Quake 4 - nothing like an original title to get your blood going huh? Ok, so this is Quake 4 which is based on the Doom 3 engine. The game ditches the Multiplayer-Only that Quake 3 Arena was based around to go back to be basically Doom 3, with more lights. Going out on launch-day against Call of Duty 2 on the 360 was one of the more stupid moves the Raven/Activision guys could have done.So, in Quake 4 you have a plot that doesn’t really matter, but boils down to you playing the role of a marine who is part of the Rhino Squad. The lead character from Quake 2 has defeated the big evil bad guy, and your squad has been sent into Strogg territory to mop up the rest of the baddies. Along the 10-20 hour game, you fight all kinds of man/machine twisted freaks. You also get to get into several vehicles, and deploy a wide array of weapons as you fight alongside AI controlled marines. You also can get weapon upgrades, and health and armor replenishes from some of the NPCs. Finally you eventually… well, everyone has spoiled the plot twist, so I’ll refrain from doing it here. Take a peek at the gamer pics, or even watch the intro trailer of the game if you want the secret ruined.
The game comes with a bonus disk that has trailers, and info from Quake 4, as well as a full version of Quake 2 which you can play split screen multiplayer - death match, or co-op. This was very cool, and the nostalgia factor was pretty high for me. Q2 was the first game I played with a 3D card (a 3DFX Banshee to be exact.) The controls were extremely tight using the Xbox controller so I commend this bonus feature. It’s a shame this 10 year old port was one of the high points of the game.
The graphics in the game are very pretty. The lip synching is fairly decent, and the fact that you have a flashlight attachable to your main weapon, will mean you aren’t fighting blindly like you were when the game was called “Doom 3″. The issues with the nice graphics are that the frame rate takes a severe hit when there is any type of firefight. Much of the game, even with no one around, you can tell the X360 is struggling to keep up with the graphics. They should have done much more optimization before releasing this thing. At least on the PC version you can dumb down your settings. No such luck here.
The sounds in the game are nice. The guns pack a wallop. The voice acting didn’t make me vomit, and the music was pretty tolerable. There’s not much more to say here than the sounds and audio were moderately good.
I was pretty surprised that the controls worked as well as they do in Q4. The aiming was very well done, and I could easily swap weapons between the nail gun, shotgun, dark matter gun, and several other weapons without any mis-clicking by using the D-Pad and shoulder bumpers. (I’ve been told that the shoulder buttons which aren’t the triggers are called bumpers.)
The controls of the vehicles were equally easy to use. The hover tank was a joy to pilot, even easier than Unreal Tournament or the Battlefield games. This thing is a beast; the problem is that it’s almost impossible to die while driving it.
The biggest problem, aside from the horrible frame rate, and the forgettable story, is that there’s so much backtracking. There’s no map, so you are lost much of the time as it is, but add to this the backtracking factor and you won’t ever get out. This problem is amplified because you are really looking at the same metallic textures over and over. Everything is shiny and metal, so there are few landmarks that you can use to help you navigate the levels. The level design is just out and out poor.
As you can imagine, the game suffers from “Doom Complex”. It’s got a “been-there-done-that” feel because nothing new is brought to the table. Enter room, fight a bad guy or two, and continue on. Backtracking will find you fighting more monsters in the rooms you just cleared because somehow they magically respawned. Very 1994 of you.
The online modes are ok, but are plagued even more so by the frame rate issues. You also should watch the length of the 8 player games. You can set the frag limit in the multiplayer games which is nice to get you playing, however using the quickest setting you will find yourself loading the level, and finding a host for 2-3 minutes - only to have the frag limit hit in literally 30 - 45 seconds.
The achievements given by the game are fair. You will not get a huge boost in your gamer score with this one, although you get what you earn. The auto saving is also pretty well done, the times I did die; I didn’t find myself having to worry about retracking the last 2 hours. I didn’t do many manual saves at all - which is a testament to the development team.
Overall, I found Quake 4 to be a slightly enjoyable (due to the futuristic weapons, complete with butt-kicking sounds), yet frame rate-plagued game. The score would have been 1-2 points higher if the frame rate was fixed, and a little more thought was put into the multiplayer. I really wanted to like this game, but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to. I feel like I’ve been playing this same game for the last 10 years, except now is has a brand new coat of “shiny” on it. This is the next generation of gaming?
If you are a Quake fan, you may get this just for the Q2 version, as well as a fairly enjoyable 10-20 hours of game play. FPS fans, or non-Quake die-hards, avoid Quake 4 and get Call of Duty 2 or Perfect Dark Zero instead.
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