Quake Wars follows the general visual style of Quake 4, so most of the Strogg units look similar to their Quake 4 counterparts whereas the GDF soldiers look slightly more primitive than Corp. Cain and his buddies. Because the game takes place on Earth (and not the war torn, ultra-industrialized Stroggos), it’s the first time the Quake series has explored some more realistic locations. To accomplish this, Splash Damage used a newly developed addition to the Doom 3 engine called MegaTexture. This basically lets the game load one gigantic high-res texture across the entire terrain, making a unique environment across the landscape with no tiling or seaming.
I appreciated this technique where it was apparent, but to be honest most of the time I was concentrating on the battle at hand. It certainly makes the environments looks more seamless and realistic, and probably helps keep the framerate smooth. There’s some decent variety in the maps—desert, industrial, forest, snow—but it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before in this type of game. The Doom 3 engine is still a very impressive piece of programming but the games built on it are all starting to run together. It looks fantastic every time, with that signature leathery normal-mapped appearance, but I wish someone would do something besides dystopian sci-fi with it. Quake Wars looks great but it suffers from the same problem Quake 4 had—it looks too much like Doom 3 and not enough like Quake 2, giving it a sense of identity crisis.
Quake Wars sounds much as you’d expect it would. Many of the sound effects are new, surprisingly, but there are some recycled one from Quake 4 in there too. The weapons and vehicle turrets have the same “clanking” sounds that made them feel a bit underpowered in Quake 4, but at least we get to play around with some better weapons this time.
The music reminded me of both Quake 4 and Doom 3. It was sparse, only used when necessary, but had the epic flavor of Quake 4. There were pieces for the menu and loading screens and various fanfares for events in-game, but there weren’t any tracks that looped ad nauseum during the matches. I appreciated this minimalist approach; with matches lasting as long as they do, the last thing I want is some industrial track repeating over and over again.
It’s a little hard for me to recommend this game as a sure buy, because there are a number of circumstances that have to fall in place before Quake Wars is really enjoyable. Despite the inclusion of bots, Quake Wars is only a lot of fun when you have at least ten or so people playing, and the more humans on the field the better. The solo campaign is completely computer controlled, so you aren’t getting the epic sequel to Quake 4—this game is a prequel, and a multiplayer themed one at that. It also takes some thinking and planning to win a match, and the complexities might turn off newcomers. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a game for the Battlefield fans, the hardcore crowd who play games like a team sport. One thing is for sure: Quake Wars will be a blast at any LAN party.
The Quake series takes an unexpected turn into Enemy Territory. While it is multiplayer based, Quake Wars isn’t much like Quake 3 Arena, so you’ll have more fun playing it with a tactical approach. The hardcore people will enjoy the huge maps, complex objectives and deep class systems, but more casual players looking for a simple shooter might get overwhelmed.
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