Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quake 4 Review

I finished off Quake 4 single player last night and overall it wasn't too bad a game. I basically feel this is the game doom 3 should have been. It managed to pull off the dark suspense and outright jump out of your seat moments just as well as doom but married this with more varied gameplay, a decent storyline, a good challenge and useful NPCs. For me the NPCs where the stand out, with just about every FPS released in the last few years including some squad elements the one thing they had in common was that your team mates sucked, they got in the way, died too easily and rarely did any damage while their were alive. Quake bucks that trend, you actually felt safer having your buddies around. I never felt they were in my way, they take way more damage that you can and they laid down some serious firepower.

The other highlight was the difficulty, playing through on the middle difficulty (as I always do) this was the first FPS game in a long time where I found myself often dying throughout rather than just at the odd challenging boss. By the end of the game virtually any enemy can knock you dead in a few second and you tend to take on more than one at a time, any mistakes and your quickly reloading. That said I didn't find it frustrating, and once you knew what to expect redoing the fight generally wasn't too hard.

Apart from this the game is fairly standard fair, the mech/tank/tramline levels do well to break the gameplay up, particularly in the early stages of the game, but the vehicle based combat is relativity easy thanks to halo style recharging armor and health and doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before. Likewise while the story contains some interesting characters and is generally an improvement on Doom that's not really saying much. Unfortunately like most other ID products Quake 4 is very linear, you're given one strict path to follow and very little chance to deviate. Finally despite the game only lasting about 7-8 hours things get very repetitive towards the end with wave after wave of similar enemies appearing in each room.

On the multilayer side Q4 plays almost exactly the same as Q3, with nicer graphics and a few weapon tweaks. Opinion seems very divided on whether this ruins the game or saves it. Personally I think Q3 was one of the best online FPS games ever so I'm enjoying it but your mileage may vary. Do be warned the online community is rather small and made up of very talented players, if you never played Q3 online or are a casual FPS player expect the get hammered for quite a while.

After completing it and dedicating some time to multilayer I still find myself divided on this game. It's a definite move forward from Doom 3 but I can't help but feel that ID and their associated developers (in this case longtime collaborators Raven) are still making games the way they did 10 years ago and that just doesn't stack up to the likes of Half-life, Battlefield, FEAR and Call of Duty. That said, those who enjoy pure, fast, shooter action or wanting a bit of a change from team-based online games should have fun.

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