Ported for the console, gamers have the chance to get into the large battlefields in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. In a crowded genre of online frag-fests, we are putting Quake Wars through the ringer to see if it has the lasting power to be the next online masterpiece.
Last October Enemy Territory made its debut on the PC making a lot of Id faithful gamers happy. Id’s rich history in the first person genre is legendary with hits such as the original Quake and Doom under their helm. With success comes expectations, and it seems Quake Wars doesn't have the steam to climb up the acclaimed hill of its former Quake counterparts. Sadly, the objective-based game play in Quake Wars isn’t leading the pack anymore, it’s following. Quake Wars is playing catch up with other titles that have done everything Enemy Territory does and possibly even better. Even with the stack against Quake Wars, Activision hopes the console brand of gamers will enjoy this Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 port.
Quake Wars takes gamers deeper into the 'Quake' universe pitting on both sides of the Strogg and human war. You either play against the Strogg war machine that has invaded Earth, or with the evil forces trying to salvage the planet for their own means. These famous villains from the Quake franchise of games are similar to Star Trek’s Borg, a cybernetic race of aliens with plans of destruction. On the other end of the struggle is the Global Defence Force that represents earth millitant forces armed with modern styled weapons, focused on grunt warfare. Really... Quake Wars doesn’t even give you that much in its bland presentation and short bits of back story information. Besides the point that Quake Wars happens before the events in Quake II (1997) you’ll be fighting a pointless battle with much reason besides upping your kill count online.
The war field battles take place on cross over 12 maps that are quite large in scale. This would have to be one of the major strong points for Quake Wars; it does have some impressive sized maps. It's too bad that the this doesn't go beyond a selling point because even though the maps are large for an online shooter, they just aren’t too interesting. The terrain has the same bland look over all the maps filled with some lacklustre city, jungle, desert, and tundra environments. You can fight inside structures and outside as you try to complete the objectives to get the win. Really, Quake Wars sounds a lot better than it is and frankly running through the original dungeons in Quake, or the industrial styled halls in Quake II is far more interesting.
The objectives also lack any star stuck qualities and basically come down to little advances and blowing something up. This is fine and understandable given that Quake Wars is online an online shooter. The flair in the objectives is that you can chance class during the game to become the character class that is needed to clear the objective. This means you can have a little more fun then being stuck with one character. Each side has five difference classes with their own unique abilities.
Not surprising, the medic plays an important role like other class oriented shooters being able to heal players. On the human side the medic is simply a medic, for the Strogg these helpers are called Technicians who give out Stroyent to ‘fix’ fallen Strogg. There is the standard warrior Soldier, or Aggressor who have more health then other characters and can take out large machinery like tanks or something that requires explosives. Next choice is Field Ops, or Oppressors. These characters can give out ammunition on the battlefield and place airstrikes that become an important part of the team online. Strogg Oppressors can also place little Covent-esq bubble shields to protect allies.
The last two classes are the Engineer, or Constructor. On the GDF side Engineers can place defensive units like anti-vehicle turrets, trip mines, and have the added bonus of being able to repair vehicle and turret units. The engineer is very helpful and needs to be used like the medic. Stogging it, the Constructor can also repair units and build other useful stations. Lastly, and quite possibly the most interesting is the Covert Ops who can hack enemy deployable and game set objectives. Hacking is more like an EMP that temperately disables units, but in any case it’s a useful to scramble when you can. Best of all the Covert Operative can take the form of an enemy Strogg which allows to bypass security or backstab enemies. On the Strogg side the Infiltrator has an Unreal Tournament styled Teleporter Beacon along with being armed with the powerful Railgun, a personal favourite of mine from Quake II.
Switching class can be done when you re-spawn to a deployment point adding some variety to every re-spawn. You can also gain levels of experience in each class with some related achievements for those looking to pump up their Xbox 360 gamerscore. None of the fancy classes will mean a thing if your team doesn’t get on the same page. In Quake Wars success means co-operation. A united team is needed to work towards the in-game goals on both sides of the coin. Defence teams need to be strong and relentless with properly placed turrets and the attacking force needs to out think the enemy and work quickly to achieve their goals. In this regard, Quake Wars has a little more dynamics than a normal shooter with the abilities of each class and is one of the attractive qualities of the game.
Given the dynamic nature of playing Quake Wars means you’ll need a little bit of time to get used to the game. A single player campaign is provided which is basically the same is online with bots instead of other players. I would strongly suggest running though the missions against bots first before you hop online. It seems a lot of gamers haven’t been doing so, and rightfully get confused in the thick of battle online. Like any focused online game finding the right group of players in your skill range is essential. Quake Wars doesn’t have the matchmaking skills of Halo, so you’ll need to find a good group of lads and stick with them for some real meaty game time. This one will take some time, so be prepared to walk before you jump.
Now we have some interesting character classes, giant maps, online bot support and the classic Quake license behind the storyline arch... so why doesn’t Quake Wars rock? That question is simple; it’s repetitive and a little dull after you initially run through the maps. Good competition is the only thing really going for Quake Wars and from my time spent online this was hard to find. Hacking a computer terminal or planting explosives on every one of the twelve maps gets a little old and is one reason why people have felt a little ripped off given the normal price tag on the game.
I was surprised with the lack of punch in the Quake Wars graphics since the graphics engine boasts John Carmack’s gigapixel ‘MegaTexture’ mapping. The MegaTexture (yeah, it sounds cool) is coding that is exclusively used on Enemy Territory to allow large sections of the game to be developed without reusing similar textures. It’s a pretty wild deal considering the texture maps run 32K x 32K in size. This tech will surely benefit another Id game in the future. Sadly, this new tech didn’t seem to help Enemy Territory: Quake Wars look better than its last generation counterpart and Doom 3 which the engine was built up from.
Besides the underwhelming graphics, Quake Wars lacks a bit in the art direction. Quake Wars felt a dull and too similar in its colour scheme, character design, and overall vehicle design. I felt like Quake 4 had more diversity and use of colour than Enemy Territory. It’s not like I expected rainbows, I know the ‘Quake-World’ is a dark and dusky version of the future, but Enemy Territory has a taken a few too many depressants and doesn't have enough polish to compete with other finer tuned products.
Quake Wars falls into enemy territory with its porting to the console world that is already full of spectacular online shooters like Call of Duty 4, Team Fortress II, Frontlines: Fuel of War and the list continues. Quake Wars might be a game that needs to drop a little in price before more gamers ignore the press and try this one out. If you’re curious, I would pick this up as a rental before you open your wallet a spurge. Being a fan of all the Quake games that have come before Enemy Territory, I’m a disappointed on what could have been one of the year’s biggest releases. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars had the right idea, but this war might be a little too much for the mighty army of the Strogg.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.23.08
Two playable armies, each delivering a totally unique gameplay experience, with distinctive technology, abilities, weapons, vehicles and structures.
Combat focused on key capture, construct and destroy objectives, but open-ended to allow limitless strategy and improvised missions and tactics.
Complete individual assignments and objectives to gain experience and rank during a single mission or an overarching campaign of three linked missions.
An array of land, sea and air vehicles, with multiple combat positions including driver, gunner, passenger and even commander.
Unlimited strategic options with deployable radar, fire support and defense turrets.
Cutting edge technology, where stunning visuals, realistic physics, and optimized networking combine to deliver an unparalleled online gaming experience.