Quake 4

by Aaron on October 24, 2005

in Gaming News & Reviews 

There was a time when the idea of a new Quake game would be enough to send me into paroxysms of spastic nerd ecstasy. The first Quake was seriously that cool. How could it not be?  It was Doom times a 1000, and it even had Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails) doing the music and sound effects.  Whether ID has lost there way (or I’ve just outgrown that style of game) remains to be seen, but in regards to the just released Quake 4 the fact remains that it’s just a ‘meh’ experience.

Quake 4
3 Stars

There was a time when the idea of a new Quake game would be enough to send me into paroxysms of spastic nerd ecstasy. The first Quake was seriously that cool. How could it not be?  It was Doom times a 1000, and it even had Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails) doing the music and sound effects.  Whether ID has lost there way (or I’ve just outgrown that style of game) remains to be seen, but in regards to the just released Quake 4 the fact remains that it’s just a ‘meh’ experience.

A Strogg soldiers unleashes the Disco Attack

  I’m not going to to spend any time dealing with the plot of Quake 4 beyond the fact that Earth is still at war with the Stroggs, and once again your character (Matthew Cain) is going to be singlehandedly responsible for turing the tide of the war.  I personally think it’s a little sad if Earth’s army has to rely on ONE GUY to get all their shit down, but apparently ID likes living up to their name by providing unrelentingly ego-stroking game experiences. 

Basically, Quake 4 and Doom 3 are nigh-interchangable.  Swap techno-demons from hell for techno-zombie soldiers from space and Mars for the Strogg planet and you’ve got Quake 4.  I will say, however, that I got bored FAST with Doom 3; a game that’s nothing more than monsters jumping out of dark corners with creepy sound-effects only holds so much appeal to me.  Quake 4 is marginally more engrossing, but that may be due to the fact that it lacks the cheesy Heavy Metal pentagrams and pseudo demons.  (A note to ID:  I’ve seen Ronnie James Dio album covers with a scarier portrayal of hell than what was in Doom 3.  Just a quick FYI.)

Quake 4’s gameplay is smoother than Doom 3, as you would expect from new software that can capitalize on the hardware changes in the interim.  Only occasionally did Quake 4 have any real performance issues, and I was running it on a 2.8GHz with 1GB of Ram.  My Radeon 800 X series card had no trouble handling the load when running in high-quality mode, and performance mode ran even smoother.  So good marks for efficient use of the hardware.  The suround sound (via Creative EAX) was well done, though when I played with headphones I had to turn my character to the side if I wanted the NPCs to not sound like they were half a room away. 

I prefer team-based shooters nowadays, but if a game is engrossing enough I can get into a straight FPS.  Half-Life 2’s story was weird and interesting enough that it hooked me completely so much that I could ignore the one-man-saves-the-world aspects of the story.  Indeed, Valve seemed to realize that they had to come up with a decent explanation for why that might be possible in the first place.  ID and Raven, however, seem to be stuck in a kind of thematic rut.  Though it did seem like they were trying to expand the game play, with the inclusion of Mech Walkers, tram cars, and tanks.  Sadly, most of these levels were either very, very short, or you were on a pre-determined path with no ability to explore the world around you.  Of course, when there were times were you were allowed to explore the world, it actually comes across as rather annoying.  On multiple levels, there are points both pre and post mission where you have to navigate your way to a certain point to either finish the level, or start a new one well after the mission goals have been accomplished.  That got really annoying, really fast.  For instance:  You’ve boarded the carrier ship to meet up with the rest of your (apparently useless) squad, and you have to find your way to the briefing room.  Why?  Why make a player waste 10 minutes wandering around a ship that you’re never going to have an action level on?  Just so you could hear the snippets of dialogue from the NPCs that don’t do anything to further the story?  To add insult to injury, most of the ship is off-limits to you, so it’s not like ID and Raven were showing off this amazing feat of engineering.

Thankfully (or not, considering it’s +50$ USD price tag), Quake 4 is a pretty short game.  I got through it in about 11 hours to be rewarded with the boilerplate ‘You’ve done good!  Now here’s your next mission……’ final cutscene.  Huzzah. 

Of course, some might argue that the first person game is secondary to the Multiplayer experience.  For playability and enjoyment, I should hope so.  Quake 4’s multiplayer side is an improvement from the company, though in the end it’s just a prettier version of more of the same.  I’ve never liked death-match style games where I automatically respawn after death.  It just seems weird and pointless.

In the end, Quake 4 is a technically well-made game, but I would have preferred ID to explore the idea of mixing Team Based with FPS.  After all, you’re surrounded by other Marines thorughout the game, yet you can’t control them in the least (In fact, they pretty much control you.  You’re bossed around like the coffee boy in this game.), which ends up contributing to the overall ‘What’s the Point?’ factor. 

Fans of straight FPS games will probably enjoy the game for what it does get right, but gamers craving something new or innovative should just stay away.

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