PC REVIEW: QUAKE 4

Often spoken in the same breath as Doom, Quake shares many similarities.
Quake 4 utilizes the Doom 3 engine and the gameplay elements are often interchangeable. I suspect that other words spoken in the same breath concerning both games will be "awesome," "amazing," "ass kickin.'" And those are just listed adjectives under "A."

Quake 4 gives us exactly what we want in such a first-person shooter. It's not loaded with gameplay variety or depth because the developers have really focused on the shooting aspect and have delivered a game that's full of action with no filler. Get involved immediately in the gameplay and start killing those alien bastards. If you can whack-a-mole you've already navigated the learning curve but it doesn't mean the game is easy.

You won't believe how well developed the single-player mode is. Considering that the multi-player aspect of Quake is the most popular element of the series, the single-player mode is basically considered an afterthought, or at the very least a training mode. The single-player experience in Quake 4 is nothing short of astounding, (another adjective brought to you by the letter "A".)

From the storyline to the gameplay and all production elements in between including the technical aspects of gameplay mechanics, framerate and control systems, Quake 4 is a shooting masterpiece. Even though the multi-player modes are still up to par the single-player mode outshines them, thanks in part to the abovementioned features - but I have to mention the AI which really displays a sense of random realism.

As a corporal of the Space Marines you will lead your team in battle against the aliens known as the Stroggs. This time the war takes place on their home turf which includes many outdoor areas eschewing the repetitive-looking, sterile corridors of many a shooter, including old Quake and Doom games. The aliens have different attack patterns and respond to your style of attack by strafing, hiding, running and retreating. Some do come right at you but others will prove sneakier. Some of these guys will require plenty of dead-on hits to kill. They aren't wimps and they will give as good as they get. Unlike Doom 3 these freaks don't pop out of nowhere and they don't swarm you. They approach like warriors, knowing where you are and that they too are vulnerable to attack.

Missions range from rescue to search and destroy. A great storyline will keep you motivated and immersed in the action. It's not detached from the action but actually explains developing situations as well as setting mysterious tones that begs for resolution. Some missions require AI accompaniment. These guys can handle themselves and seldom get in the way. They don't just stand around waiting for you to make the first move, although there are some instances of that, but for the most part they will take the initiative and start gunning down as many aliens as you. There's another good reason to have these guys around; they will help heal you and/or repair your armor. It's like having your own personal power-up in human form.

Ammo, armor and weapons are plentiful. The weapons deal a significant amount of damage and they are very accurate - almost arcade-like if you will. Expect a shotgun, assault rifle, nail gun, hyper blaster and grenade and rocket launchers. There are no secondary weapons, only a zoom. Vehicles make an appearance in this version since there are plenty of outdoor locations. They are very easy to use and come with unlimited ammo.

Some gamers may be disappointed by the multi-player modes which can only accommodate 16 players. Sure the map is smaller but it's tighter and leads to more overall action. Some of the locations tend to be somewhat generic, including the outer-space map that has you jumping from various floating platforms.

Quake 4 is easily one of the best looking shooters on the market. It's easily the best Quake and it even rivals Doom in production values. The characters models are rich, colorful and finely detailed, as are some of the environments but there are some maps that suffer from dreary textures and sparse terrain. The voiceacting is Hollywood professional as are the music and sound effects. The soundtrack is almost more chilling than the monsters.

Quake 4 is not pretentious. It's a hardcore shooter in which you don't have to be a hardcore gamer to experience. The single-player mode is great but it's relatively short. You will definitely want to get the most out of this game if you purchase it and that will require becoming addicted to the multi-player modes. I don't think you'll find that to be much of a problem.

System: PC
Dev: Raven
Pub: Activision
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1 - 16
Review by La Grange
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
4.0