Review by Leper_Lord

Reviewed: 08/10/06

It comes with a pack of goodies that make up for some flaws.

One of the most horrid mistakes the developers behind the X360 had the shame of committing was the lack of general backwards compatibility; I have no idea what criteria the developers used in order to decide which games were worthy of being compatible with the new hardware and which weren’t, but it is a sure bet to claim that this criteria screwed quite a few of us. Some of my favorite games are not BC with the 360 hardware, and I have no idea if Microsoft has updated the list, since I still haven’t got around wiring my unit to be on Live, nor do I seem to be eager to do so in the near future. Therefore some of my favorite games, like Thief: Deadly Shadows and Doom 3 remain as playable only in my old system; thank gods I didn’t sell it already.

Seeing how things turned out, Quake 4 is one of the best alternatives to all the people who hoped to play Doom 3 on their X360s and found themselves unable to do so. The game uses the same Doom 3 engine and seems to borrow many of the most “fleshy” elements of the game engine into its own mix, although in a grosser manner. The game even expands somewhat on the general feel of Doom 3, although it is not without its flaws.

Id Software is not exactly known for its engrossing story lines, they all include machos with big guns (interpret that in any way you want) blasting their way through hordes of demons/aliens/robots/freaks, and this game is not exception. The game’s set shortly after the destruction of the Makron, the supreme leader of the Strogg, in Quake 2; you play the role of Mathew Kane, some space marine and part of the elite Rhino Unit, sent along with other units to attack Stroggos, the home planet of the Strogg; your adventures will lead you to the heart of the Strogg communications grid, to facing a reconstructed Makron and to visit, first hand, the bloody workshops where the inhuman process known as “Stroggification” (something akin to Cyborgination) takes place; resulting in some of the best gory visuals to date.

The game’s standard FPS fare with weapons ranging from an ordinary energy handgun of infinite charge to more standard weapons of several ranges of destruction; they go from machineguns, to shotguns, nail guns, grenade and missile launchers and several forms of energy weapons. The choice of weapons is actually quite varied on this game, although it comes to a point where you’ll probably be using a couple of them for the entirety of the game. The most impressive weapon this time around is the Dark Matter gun, some form of experimental Strogg technology that shoots small, albeit incredibly powerful, balls of dark matter that like black holes suck everything on their path. This gun was actually the replacement of Id’s already classic BFG10K, of Doom and Quake fame.

Enemies are also varied and impressive in their own way; you get everything from ordinary foot soldiers of different skills to various forms of heavy artillery and even deficient half Stroggified humans, Quake’s answer to standard zombies. By far my favorite enemies are the Harvesters, gigantic four legged arthropods armed with rocket launchers and mechanical appendages under their main body segment; the overall thing looks like the spidery creatures from the Matrix series.

However here’s where the variety ends; level design is in no way different to that of Doom 3. The whole thing feels like a dungeon crawler in an industrial wasteland, but whereas in Doom 3 it served a purpose (You were, after all, trapped inside an abandoned research facility in Mars, there was no way for you to explore the outside without a half assed special suit) in Quake 4 it feels like lazy level design, so much it sometimes gives the impression that the levels are unused Doom 3 maps. There is some variation, though; the Nexus tower, all clad in blue coloring, feels like a darker form of The Citadel (in Half Life 2) and you can sometimes visit exteriors, but that’s it… even the trash yard of the Strogg (were you’ll encounter the most creepy enemies in the game) feels somewhat generic. Mind you, the levels all have small organic details that will remind you a lot of Doom 3, but that’s where any novelty ends.

To complicate matters, the game can sometimes be subject of noticeable drops on the frame rate, sometimes to a damn annoying level, and for the most part, the ambient sound is so loud you won’t be able to hear a single thing your team mates are telling you. On the other hand, the ambient effects are very good some of them eerie and grotesque in a very organic way. The soundtrack is nothing special.

The truth is that it took me quite some time to be done with this game, and not because of its difficulty, which is pretty fair, but because the game gets tedious after some time. Standard FPS fare, “all guns blazing” is still fun on these days of overtly complication in gaming, but when the environment has little to offer visually and there is nothing new to be found on the flesh and bones of the game, the experience quickly becomes routine… There are some good frights to be found in the game, and this game is best played at night, although it in no way compares to the Doom 3 experience.

The retail game comes with a bonus CD that includes a fair amount of extras, all of it on the making of the game. The extra CD also includes the full version of Quake 2, fully ported for the 360, it runs EXTREMELY smooth and it is very fun to play, although if you are a graphic fetishist you can expect the worst, the game’s engine is quite dated, although in no way does it affect the enjoyment of it.

If you really enjoy FPS and are interested in playing and owning a classic game on a next-gen system, this game warrant a purchase; otherwise you can pass and consider this a nice weekend rental.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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