Quake 4 is even better than Doom 3, and may be one of the best shooters ever.
+ Tough, hardcore action.
+ Singleplayer boasts a 10-hour strogg-blasting marathon.
+ Great graphics.
+ State-of-the-art modding capibility.
+ True ambient builder with some groundbreaking visuals.
+ Awesome, awesome, awesome level design and detail.
- Somewhat insane system requirements.
- Some shooting sequances feel awkward.
- Software developer tools could've been layed out a little better.
- Permeately disapointing in comparison to Quake 2.
- Multiplayer could be better.
The Quake series has always been a favorite computer shooter series. While Doom flondered with networking values, Quake has never disapointed with singleplayer, and if not, golden multiplayer. Almost immediatly after the sucess of Quake 3, Id went to Doom 3 to keep their fans happy. Naturely, Quake fans also want a piece of Doom 3 action translated into Quake 2 language, so Id turned to Raven Software to sequalize Quake 2. The result? My computer is subjected to a disapointing but fun shooter that does not at all live up to Quake 2's mill-busting gameplay. Not a huge surprise from Raven Software, the game is littered with little flaws that add up to a mess, but the fundementals of a great shooter is here in Quake 4.
In Quake 4, you are Matthew (which is my name, so I guess I will say "me"). Anyway, I'm a newly assigned scout for the human squad known as Rhino squad, as part of the resistance against the Strogg aliens. The nameless marine from Quake 2 was able to bypass into the city of Cyberon, the Strogg Homeworld, and defeat the Macron. Quake 4 takes place a few minutes after Quake 2, where my squad just got word of it. My squad's tasked with delivering the final blow to the Nexus, the centeral brains of the alien world of Stroggos. The story is certainly more catching than the tasteless idea of demons invading mars, but there is no grip to it either. A ship is crashed. Shoot some aliens. Plant some explosives. Shoot some aliens. Destory this and that. Shoot some aliens along the way. There's a few plot twists that are interesting, but its still a similar formula that you've probably done a million times before. I never speak in the game either and I use a voice file from Quake 3 whenever I am shot, which makes my personality as interesting as a pinecone, but at least my game is decently fun.
Quake 4 is powered by the Doom 3 engine, or Id Tech 4. And let me tell you now, the red stuff flying in the air from your demised foes is not the only attractive thing on Stroggos. Like Doom 3, most of Quake 4 takes alot into the cold, grime industrial alien-robot theme with dim lighting and some pretty ridicous shadowing. A quick glance at an entire room during the game shows that the engine defines the planet of Stroggos in a visually impressive matter, whether its large outdoor areas or in ambitious future hallways similar to those you've witnessed in the Mission Impossible movie series. Between the walking speed, superb level design, or ambient atomesphere, somehow you always feel like you are actually there. I don't know how or why, but you just do.
At least, with a fine computer to substain such graphics.. The system requirements are somewhat silly, as you might not even be able to play in medium quality with a Gefore 8000 series, let alone at all. Its a boggle really, since the Quake series has always seemingly tried to lean over to the minimum, but with the shoe on the other foot, Quake 4 comes out as a huge hog.
There's no reason why its named Quake 4 when it should be Doom 4. Through the game, you trudge through buildings, sometimes outdoor areas (which look nice), but generally corridor after corridor. Your squadmates will ocasionally accompany you, but that's a rarity. The enemy's A.I. is improved; the Strogg aliens you face will side-step while shooting and dodge around, which is more than what you can say for the Doom 3 imps. Apart from that, Quake 4 tries too hard to structure the gameplay combat with little to no substance behind it. They might occasionally pop out of the shadows or ambush you, but the enemies often resemble roadblocks to your goal, like any shooter. You may push a lever, open a door, or stand your ground protecting somebody, while the game aimlessly throws foe after foe at you with little to no scripting. Its a bit weird shooting at a bunch of yellow sentries in the air.
Of course, its the weapons that confirm that this is actually a sequal to Quake 2. In the beginning, you'll get a blaster that comes complete with ulimated ammo, a charge-up ability, and the kick of a staple gun. Then, you'll get a machine gun with a flashlight attached for looking in the dark shadowy areas (wow, why didn't the UAC think of this?) Then there's another machine gun called the hyperblaster, the shotgun, the nailgun, the lightening gun, the disapointing grenade and rocket launcher, and finally the Dark Matter Gun that shoots a large chunk of magnetic blackness into your foes like the BFG. Also, there is a railgun, though it is massivly disapointing by shape. Instead of a powerful, bulky, piece of metal in your hands, Quake 4 turns the railgun into a lame, skinny red rifle that has a 3-bullet clip and is twice as less fun to use. Nevertheless, the rest of the weapons sound tough and powerful. The combat, though feeling kind of aged, is almost always engaging as fleshy organs fly out of the strogg when you shoot them with a shotgun or gib them to pieces with the DMG or Lightening gun. Furthermore, throughout the game, some marines on your side will upgrade your weapons for better performance. Your shotgun will eventually be upgraded with an expanded clip. The Lightening gun can be modded to shock multiple enemies at once when fired. The Nailgun will soon be able to lock on to enemies with a zoom feature. Not at the maximum glory of what Quake 2 had to offer, Quake 4's weapons are well layed out and praise the gameplay.
Strangely for a Quake game, the multiplayer is actually the most disapointing aspect of the entire game. The multiplayer is basically a copy paste of Quake 3's similar structure, though its aged and it applauds that fact in Quake 4. The same levels, platforms, weapon layouts, and even same annoucer lines all rear their head in with very little freedoms. One half of the Quake 4 multiplayer feels tackled on, whereas the second half of it feels as if it was degenerated into a classic negstalgia modpack. Nevertheless, its fun enough, but just so disapointing compared to something that I have played time and time again. Not a moment sneaks past a couple "Hey, I did that millions of times in Quake 3!" lines. Even with patching, the whole thing feels like a rebirth of Quake 3, littered with bugs and technical issues, and for that its slightly more than a major kick in the shin for Multi-Quake fans who see repetiviness over anything new or worthwhile. But if you want online competition, you'll find the Quake 4 servers jam-packed.
As drab as the multiplayer is, it shouldn't affect the game's replay value whatsoever. Specifically, the game's modding capibility is endless. A PC copy of Quake 4 ships with a built-in map editor -- accompanied by gui editors, script editors, and decl file editors -- for maximum replayabilty. To say that modding the game is user friendly would probably be a white lie, though if you catch the hang of it, you'll be amazed at how much you can do to the game's files -- like creating your own singleplayer mod or weapon texture -- using just what's out of the box. Levels can be constructed, new textures can be generated, and your own weapon mods are all easy to make with the tools that Id provided. Its a very shiny bonus to the package.
Because its Quake 4, not Quake 2. Generally, when compared to any other shooter, Quake 4 is an easily respected shooter that doesn't take any huge step in our technolegly but frags 10 hours of your freetime with fun gameplay and awesome graphics. If you feel any mercy for the drab multiplayer, the experience is timeless, but as it is, Quake 4 barely qualifies as a Quake game will such a disapointing multiplayer component. Its price tag shouts out "I'm an awesome sci-fi shooter" and the box yelps "I'm an overrall accomplishment". But after playing the masterpiece that is Quake 2, you're computer and monitor will shout out "You love Quake, but is this really Quake?"