Quake 4 has everything a great game should have and should be tried by all FPS players.
The word quake usually means a shiver or any form of erratic tremble, caused by cold or strong emotions, including fear. And fear is the key word in the Quake franchise. Not because it is a horror game, but because Quake surfaces the fear of mankind when facing extinction. It unleashes the strongest instinct: survival. The main story of the Quake saga is based on a massive invasion force called the Strogg, a vicious race of cyborgs, which is keen on exterminating everything in the universe, including mankind. Just like in nature, only the fittest survives, but which one is it: the Strogg or us, Humans?
In Quake 2 a great effort has been put together to stop the seemingly unstoppable Strogg from invading Earth and victory was obtained. In Quake 4, Humans take the fight further into Stroggos and plan to put them out of commission for good this time by destroying their Nexus, the source of all Strogg forces. The protagonist of Quake 4 is a corporal, named Mathew Kane. As with Doom 3, the character never talks, being an exemplary soldier who obeys all orders and gets the job done properly. In the first part of the game, Kane is just a regular marine with great combat experience and outstanding training, but has no super abilities. After covering one third of the game's story, Kane is captured by the leader of all Strogg, Makron, who was supposedly defeated in Quake 2. However, he survived and is now back, more powerful than ever. After his apprehension, Kane is sent to the Strogg medical facilities, where humans are turned into elite Strogg units, aptly named Tacticals. The whole process is painful to watch but is nevertheless carefully put together and delivers a chilly but photorealistic experience. Just before activating the Strogg chip which has been previously implanted in his brain, Kane is saved by his squad from total Strogg brainwash. From now on, Kane will run faster, have more life and armor than normal humans do, making him a proper Strogg killing machine. His task is simple: destroy the Nexus and all who stand between him and his objective. But the Stroggs won't give up easily, putting their best troops against Kane. The fear of extermination has now been put on their shoulders.
As you've probably expected, the story of Quake 4 is marvelously done and manages to keep one's interest in it from start to finish. No doubt, it is one of the best stories to be created for a game.
This game is fairly linear, but it is of good length so it will take you about 12 hours to complete.
Quake 4 is as science-fiction as a FPS could be. So naturally, the arsenal must also contain state of the art equipment. The weapons of Quake come in a very good variety and all of them are of great quality, delivering a great satisfaction when using them. They range from the classic machine gun, shotgun or rocket launcher to the extremely powerful and high-tech gear like the well-known railgun, nailgun, hyperblaster, lightning gun or the top-notch dark matter gun, which was most likely designed to counter the BFG9000 from Doom 3. All weapons have good damage and most of them can leave a serious mark on the unfortunate Strogg standing in your line of sight. For the first part of the game, you should rely mainly on the machine gun, as it is a great overall weapon, good in both distant and close combat, also being fitted with an assault scope. However, when stronger enemies start to show and better gear becomes available, your weapons of choice for most fights should be the hyperblaster, nailgun and lightning gun. Their ammo is found pretty easily throughout the game, so don't be afraid to use them for fights with regular enemies. The hyperblaster is my favorite because most of the fights in Quake 4 take place in medium to small areas, which makes the hyperblaster a great weapon to have due to its good damage and high rate of fire. The railgun, thanks to its high damage, powerful scope but very low rate of fire, should be used primarily as a sniper weapon. Tougher weapons like the rocket launcher or dark matter gun should be kept for tougher enemy encounters with so called minibosses or true, more powerful bosses.
You should keep in mind that most weapons in Quake 4 can be upgraded by engineers of your squad or from other squads encountered throughout the game. These upgrades include bigger damage, higher rate of fire, bouncing plasma balls (for the hyperblaster, upgrade which makes this weapon even more effective in tight spots), scopes with homing capabilities and other great stuff that will make your weapons even better and more fun to use.
The enemies of Quake look good and behave well. They are basically cyborgs, most of them being fitted with both flesh and metal body parts. Some of them are former humans, while others can't be classified. The Strogg also features some awesome mechanical units, which are greatly designed and will leave you impressed. The AI varies from enemy to enemy, with a few being just aggressive but not to sharp melee attackers, and others being extremely well equipped and trained. For the most part of the game, the enemies from Quake 4 may give you a hard time, because most of them have indeed good AI and tend to come in great numbers. Some of them make decent use of tactics and cover, while others are fitted with huge amounts of hp and powerful gear, making them impressive foes, especially since some can fly or evade your fire with sudden changes in direction. They also use most of the weapons that you have at your disposal, so encounters with Stroggs that carry railguns, hyperblasters or rocket launchers are destined to get nasty, especially on higher levels of difficulty. There are four of them. I played on private (easiest) and lieutenant (second hardest) and the difference between the first and the third level is quite noticeable. Enemies have basically the same behaviour pattern although it is a bit enhanced, but have more hp, they do bigger damage and come in slightly bigger numbers than usual.
Nevertheless, all enemies from Quake 4 look good and the fights you engage are very satisfying, quite brutal and fast.
It is important to add that although you will blast your way on your own through the most part of the game, you will sometimes be accompanied by other marines from your squad or other squads. Their AI is also pretty good and will follow and help you in the fights you engage. It is highly recommended that you make use of their help, especially on higher difficulties and against tougher enemies. They can die however and even if the game story won't be affected by their death, some of them are imperative in order to accomplish your objectives at certain points and must be protected when the situation asks for it. The most important squad mates you can meet are the medics and tech engineers. They differ from regular units, as they are differently colored and so are easier to spot and are much more useful because they not only fight, but help you when you are low on health or armor. It is recommended that you try to keep them alive when encountered, since they have infinite amounts of med packs and armor with them, so whenever you need help, just interact with them and they will restore your health or armor. Engineers are even more useful, since they are the only ones who can upgrade your weapons. You don't have to worry about finding them, since all of this guys who can help you out with your upgrades will be encountered at some points in the game.
Quake 4 also features some very cool vehicle sequences, which are not only very satisfying, but also easy enough in order not to get frustrating. All the vehicles you will be fighting in will have regenerating armor and some will have shields too, which can also regenerate if you are not taking fire while this happens. For most of these sequences you will be manning a turret which is installed either on an APC or a tram. The other sequences involve the usage of a tank and mech unit. The tank is very well designed and since this game is set into the future, it has no tracks, but it hovers, creating a great sound effect. It is equipped with a powerful main gun and a machine gun. The gun round is a one shot one kill for most enemies encountered while driving the tank, but it can easily be evaded by flying units at long distances. The machine gun is great for taking care of the lesser foes but can also do decent damage on heavier enemies. It is also worth mentioning that machine gun fire can destroy missiles launched at you while they are in mid air. The mech unit is by far the most awesome vehicle sequence in the entire game. When you climb into one and start moving around, you will instantly get a "you want some, come get some" feeling. It is really superb. Although it is weaker than the tank, it is a bit more fun to use. While in the mech, you can either use the machine gun attached to it or the rocket launcher, which fires 6 rounds in short succession, after that having to wait for a couple of seconds for the rockets to refill. Just like the tanks, the mech also has armor and shields that regenerate when you are not fired upon.
The graphics of Quake 4 are outstanding. Even by today's standards, this game looks legitimately awesome, having both great visuals and good physics and effects. The sounds are also over the top, everything in this game, from weapons to enemies and vehicles, sounding great. The music from Quake 4 features great themes that builds up your adrenaline and prepares your for the engaging fights to come.
So why is this game not getting a 10? Well, Quake 4 has superb parts, both in gameplay and technology, but when added together they don't form the same greatness that other games like Doom 3, Half-Life 2 or Call of Duty have and somehow provides a little less satisfaction. However, you should definitely try this game if you call yourself a FPS fan, because even if Quake 4 somewhat lacks the excellence of the aforementioned games, it still delivers an amazing experience. Great story, very cool arsenal and enemies definitely make Quake 4 a superb game, all things considered.