Review by BusterMcNutty

Reviewed: 03/01/06

Plut it in, blast away


Quake 4 is the story of Corporal Matthew Kane, a new addition to the elite Rhino squad as it prepares for the human raid on the Strogg home planet of Stroggos. It follows Corporal Kane from his initial crash landing on the planet's surface, all the way to the game's conclusion at the heart of the Strogg military machine.

Gameplay, 9/10

The gameplay in this game is absolutely one of its strong points. It’s fun, straight forward, and guaranteed to keep you blasting away with a wide variety of weapons. Speaking of weapons, the game does a good job of balancing your implements of death across the technological spectrum, meaning that you’ll find a trusty shotgun as well as an extremely advanced dark matter gun in your quest to kill as many things as possible.

Another strong positive is the interaction between Kane and his squad mates. Rhino squad is made up of an eclectic group of the galaxy’s toughest, meanest S.O.Bs and it shows in the way they interact. Plus, when Kane goes into combat with these guys, they do more than just get in the way and take up space. They actually move in quasi-coordination, provide accurate covering fire, and even patch up Kane if the Strogg start laying a beat down on him.

All in all, the gameplay clearly demonstrates the three F’s, it’s fun, it’s fast and it’s fresh.

Story, 8/10

The story in this game is fairly well done for a FPS. A lot of games in this genre leave out the story just to focus entirely on mindless destruction. Personally, I like games with at least some semblance of a plot; I want to know why I’m putting my butt on the line in a totally hostile environment. The game does a good job of showing who the Strogg are and why humanity is fighting them. It also adds a nice wrinkle to the plot about 1/3 of the way through the game when Kane is captured by the Strogg and subjected to the process known as “Stroggification.” The results of that experiment not only change Kane’s physical appearance and abilities, but also the way his squad mates interact with him, which provides nice depth to the story. The only criticism is that it requires a pretty good knowledge about what happened in Quake 2. There is almost no background information given before the game starts. I found myself going to the Internet several times to figure out what was really going on in the Quake universe.

Graphics, 7/10

While the graphics in Quake 4 are good, they’re far from great. There is painfully obvious slowdown at several points in the game, namely the opening and closing credits and the Tram level. Also, while the marines show different personalities, many of them share the same face model, which is kind of a let down when you’re trying to keep people’s identities separate.

The levels themselves are very nicely done, although towards the end I noticed a few problems with the rendering of walls in the later levels. The only problem is that so many of the levels take place in low light it becomes hard to really appreciate the detail that’s been put into their design.

Sound, 7/10

The voice acting in Quake 4 is quite good, when you can hear it. It seemed that if I wanted to hear a player that was talking to me, I had to be directly in front of the person and giving them my full attention. If there was background noise, or I moved away, their voices quickly tailed off into the inaudible. In addition, the noises made by the Strog minions get very repetitive. However, the guns sound authentic and convincing.

Controls, 8/10
I found the controls in Quake 4 to be adequate. While the weapon-cycle system can be a little cumbersome at times (especially since it’s lacking any hot-key assignment function), the rest is standard FPS fare. Left analog stick moves, right stick looks around, and right trigger fires. The good news is that I never felt like I was fighting the controls, which is the death-blow for many FPS-type games.

Overall, 7/10

This is a solid game that’s definitely worth a rental at the least. If you’re into FPS and the Quake series, then this is something you might consider dropping $60 on. However, for me, I’m glad that I just picked it up for five days from my local videogame renter. It’s a fun game that’s fast-paced with a wide variety of weapons at your disposal and a huge amount of bad guys to pump bullets into. But if you’re looking for something awe-inspiring or jaw-dropping, then this probably isn’t for you. While all of its aspects are solid, there’s just nothing about this game that makes it standout in the FPS genre. Couple that with the occasional graphical problems, and you’re left with a good, but not memorable, game.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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