|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Id Software / Underground Dev.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 27, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Back in early October, Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars (ET: QW) was released to critical acclaim on the PC. Fast forward seven months and now the title is available on both Xbox 360 and PS3. Thankfully, the essence of the PC shooter developed by Splash Damage remains intact. Sadly, technical execution is not nearly as good.
Enemy Territory titles are known for their emphasis on team play and expansive environments, and the console versions of QUAKE Wars are no exception. The massive maps found on the PC are faithfully replicated to give players a huge sandbox full of destructive toys, and the objective-driven missions foment a strategic team ethic. This is a thinking-man's shooter that places a premium on specific roles and will have you duke it out with other online players in order to decide the fate of Earth.
Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars is the prequel to id Software's QUAKE II. As such, players will side with either the human defenders known as the Global Defense Force (GDF) or the technologically advanced alien invaders called the Strogg. Unfortunately, that's about it for storyline. There is a nice opening video that sets the tone, but nothing is fully fleshed out. In other words, FPS players that enjoy a deep single-player or co-op offline campaign won't find it here, as the offline adventure is nearly identical to the one found online. The only difference is you'll be playing with and against bots rather than having human teammates and competition. Fortunately, the online component is good enough I don't expect players will feel they've missed too much.
So how's the game played? Whether on or offline, you'll choose a side and then select from one of five different character classes. The classes of the GDF are Soldier, Medic, Engineer, Field Ops, and Covert Ops. The corresponding Strogg classes are Aggressor, Technician, Constructor, Oppressor, and Infiltrator. These classes more or less mirror one another with only a few minor differences that give the game a bit of texture. Next, you'll venture forth into battle using the available weaponry, vehicles, and machine emplacements to secure various objectives throughout the ever-changing battlefield.
Each character class has a specific role to fulfill in order for your team to be successful. For example, Human Medics and Strogg Technicians heal and revive their fallen comrades. Likewise, Human Soldiers and Strogg Aggressors take the fight to the enemy. All five classes for each race match up relatively well. However, Human classes and their Strogg counterparts do have certain advantages and weakness. A great example of this is the way Medics and Technicians go about healing troops. Humans can instantly heal the wounded in order to get them back in the fight, whereas Strogg Technicians have to wait a few seconds to revive the critically wounded. To make up for this, Strogg Technicians can deploy a tool on the bodies of GDF fighters in order to create an advanced spawn point. As you can see, both races are nicely balanced, but they differ in interesting ways.
By completing objectives, making kills, and performing your role well, you will be rewarded with ranks and proficiencies in specific classes, vehicles, and weaponry. This is a nice way to reward players for mastering their favorite classes and tools of war, but it is even more challenging to unlock the top ranks in each of the five classes for both races. Even so, because each class is so different, you'll probably latch on to a few that truly appeal to your playing style. It's OK to play favorites, as long as your team has the appropriate balance of skills required to best any particular objective. You see, each objective on the map demands a different mix of classes in order to successfully secure it. That means players can't just forge ahead as Soldiers/Aggressors and take out the enemy at their spawn points. If you're someone who likes to go John Rambo, you're not going to help your team advance. However, if you exploit the unique characteristics of the five classes, you'll be able to forge ahead with your team deep into enemy territory.
In fact, teams are far better served by utilizing a cohesive strategy. If the Rambos of the group fall back to protect the Engineers / Constructors or act as a point man for the Covert Ops / Infiltrators, then construction or sabotage of the objective will be quickly attained. As such, the might of the individual is somewhat lessened in ET: QW. Accordingly, this may not appeal to those who simply want to plink domes online. However, it is satisfying to work with your teammates and break through your enemy's defenses after 30 minutes of a near-pyrrhic confrontation.
As a bonus, this team-based ethic makes QUAKE Wars more accessible to a wider range of players. If you're not great at head shots, you can simply take on a supporting role and be equally as valuable to your team. On the other side of the spectrum, those that are especially good at taking out the enemy will be happy to know half of their team will be counting on them to keep their brains intact. The variety of play options is very addictive and will make everyone feel accomplished.