LOS ANGELES--One of the more anticipated titles on show at Activision's Monday press conference was Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. In terms of gameplay, the game is broadly similar to Battlefield 2, though it's set in the hugely popular Quake universe and re-creates a number of scenarios from the invasion of Earth by an alien race called the Strogg.
You get to play on either side of the conflict, with a variety of different roles available for each faction. For example, a medic for the Global Defense Force (GDF) will carry equipment to heal injured comrades, while also having the capacity to call in air-deployed equipment as well. In contrast, the Strogg equivalent (the "technician") replenishes fellow Strogg troops by gathering a substance from dead GDF soldiers.
Each scenario plays out in a different environment ranging from woodland to wintry mountains, and the lush visuals are handled by a new John Carmack-designed system called MegaTexture. Its purpose is to yield a high level of detail without leaving too much of a "footprint" in terms of memory usage, and while optimisation hasn't yet taken place, the team at Splash Damage are hoping to keep the minimum specifications respectable.
Once you drop into the game in your chosen role you'll be given a set of objectives depending on that role. In the scenario we saw played out (from the GDF perspective), the first task for the team was to rebuild a bridge into the Strogg-controlled territory. The primary job falls on the engineer, as this is the only character capable of building. It's up to the rest of the squad to protect him and make sure he can do his job.
Once the bridge was built a GDF Mobile Command Post arrived, and the next objective involved getting it across the bridge and through a tunnel. After that a Strogg outpost was destroyed and the MCP was deployed in that area, leading to a new set of spawn points and the GDF claiming a portion of the territory previously controlled by the Strogg. The overall map appeared to feature around four or five of these territories, presumably with a string of objectives in each.
One big draw is sure to be the vehicle interaction. It's nothing new to this kind of game, but the handling of the individual vehicles looks fairly authentic. If you're in a four-wheel drive you'll be able to climb steeper inclines and make it over rough ground, whereas if you're on a smaller ATV, you'll be able to traverse places unreachable by the larger vehicles. One particularly entertaining ride looks to be the helicopter-jet combo--though, create too much havoc and you'll no doubt become a priority target for the enemy.
It wasn't clear just how important coordinating tactics within your team would become, although there do seem to be multiple ways to approach any given situation. If you don't feel like a full-on assault, there's always the option to jump in a helicopter carrier and parachute in behind the enemy front lines.
At this point, the game is still in the alpha stage of development, and we were told that parts of the user interface contain placeholder elements that won't make the final version. However, the rest of it's looking pretty close to the finished article. It's sharp, fluid, and intuitive, but console owners will be disappointed to learn that there are no plans at this stage to migrate the title away from the PC.