Review by G_K_K

Reviewed: 10/28/05

An average shooter in an age of excellence

I bought this game without reading any reviews, simply on the reputation of its predecessors and Raven Software, its developer. Unfortunately, that was my mistake.

It's not that "Quake 4" is a bad game--it's just that it isn't a stellar game, and when I can get "Half-Life 2," "Far Cry," or "Call of Duty 2" for equal to or less than the price of "Quake 4," average just isn't good enough.

Part of my disappointment, honestly, was a bit of disgruntlement over the advertising. It seems that id and Raven made a big fuss over the sweeping scale of the next Quake installment. The gameplay videos showcased a sweeping war where your elite squad of marines fights alongside armored walkers and tanks against a relentless and overwhelmingly numerous enemy. I was expecting a sci-fi epic of massive proportions, "Saving Private Ryan" in space.

What I got was a "Doom 3" knockoff with a couple outdoor levels. Therein lies "Quake 4's" problem: it's not the least bit original.

"Quake 4" is basically a retread of "Doom 3." Most of the time, you're alone and fighting small numbers of enemies. However, unlike "Doom 3," which was largely successful in scaring the bejesus out of you with frightening-looking enemies that got up-close and personal FAST, "Quake 4" throws decidedly un-scary cyborg aliens of a slightly varying nature at you for most of the game. They are easily dispatched with even the early weapons, though damage can pile on quick when you don't remember to dodge. AI sucks; enemies won't do much more than sidestep to evade your fire, and basic tactics like flanking maneuvers are miles beyond them. Eventually, the enemies get bigger and harder to kill (in the sense that they have more hitpoints; even the bosses aren't that big a deal if you just circle-strafe), but no more original. Hell, at one point you're crawling through a zombie-infested sewer. Sound familiar? It's like the developers at Raven said, " 'Half-Life 2' had zombies, and it moved product, so...."

The weaponry of "Quake 4" is enjoyable, but nothing you haven't seen before in other games. Even the uber-gun, the Dark Matter Cannon or some such thing, is a retread. At least they didn't try to half-ass a physics gun like the "Doom 3" expansion. Thankfully, some firearms in the Quake universe have flashlights on them--but only the nigh-useless blaster and the standard assault rifle, meaning that you'll be somewhat in the dark if you want to use the more powerful guns. Since you can largely get by with the assault rifle, this discourages you from playing with the other guns, which is definitely a negative for a shooter.

Graphics are Doom 3-engine-powered, so character models look good and wall textures are still low-res (just more noticeable in the lighter areas). Weapons models are okay, not the best I've seen but not bad, either. The engine apparently doesn't do so hot with sweeping panoramas; the outdoor sequences are the most visually unsatisfying of the game. Sound is serviceable, though I wish for surprise's sake that monsters didn't announce their presence before showing up.

Multiplay is decent, though for the basic CTF, DM, and TDM, there are better options. I was continually lusting after UT2004 for its levels of raw carnage and far lesser lag.

That's not to say "Quake 4" isn't fun for the 10-15 hours it lasts. It's just that it's not worth the $50 people are charging now. I'd suggest waiting till the price gets knocked down about 20 bucks before buying it--or going for something else. "Doom 3" does the lone marine schtick much better, while "Call of Duty 2" will give you a sweeping war epic--both of them looking, sounding, and playing better than "Quake 4."

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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