Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Review for Xbox 360 (X360)

To Pown a Strogg…

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: QUAKE Wars screenshot

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.

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars screenshot

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.

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars screenshot

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.

The move of Enemy Territory to the realm of consoles is not all roses, however. Actually, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the addition of voice chat really brings home the camaraderie, and allows players to issue commands instantly rather than frantically firing off abbreviated emotes from their keyboard. On the other, the gigantic 32-man conflicts on the PC have been pared down to just 16 players at once. Don’t get me wrong, the action is still frenzied, but considering just how large the environments are, it would have been nice to play against even larger forces.

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars screenshot

Along those lines, due to the sheer size of the levels, the graphics aren’t quite as detailed and intense as they might have been otherwise. That’s not to say they’re bad; they’re simply not nearly as stunning or sharp as they are in other FPSs. Nonetheless, they do an acceptable job of reproducing the various settings and conveying a sense of realism to players. Sadly, one major problem I found was a ton of shuttering due to framerate issues. What was really weird is we were given the debug code for the 360 and the full retail copy for the PS3, but the shuttering occurred far more often on the PS3 than it did on the 360.

The biggest differences between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are found in the menu interface and online matching. Both versions are well organized, but I’ll have to give the nod to the 360 once again, as the 360 version’s interface is far more accessible. I did like being able to choose from a list of available matches on the PS3 though. Astoundingly, this is not available through the 360 version; you’ll simply be matched according to your preferences and host connection quality. Another big difference between versions is the quality of the voice chat; the PS3 produces some terrible echoes and painfully distorted feedback.

One thing I had troubles with on both systems was getting kicked out of games and general connection issues. I know Activision was having some server difficulties pre-launch, and we were having a bunch of trouble with a D-Link WBR-2310 router. Moreover, in the QUAKE Wars instruction booklet it specifically states that not all routers are supported. They go on to say that players should have a broadband connection of at least 786kbps network bandwidth to play QUAKE Wars smoothly. Subsequently, we have changed out our D-Link for a Belkin G Plus MIMO router and things have greatly improved. Nevertheless, we continue to get dropped from games and experience a ton of lag despite the fact we connect at over 3000kbps. Disappointingly, it seems like router compatibility and connectivity may be an issue.

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars screenshot

The controls in QUAKE Wars are very good, but they are not perfect. Switching between weapons and tools via the RB / LB and R1 / L1 buttons is wonky. This is especially so when trying to access your knife / spikes for a quick melee strike, or when you want instant access to a secondary weapon such as grenades to lob at enemy emplacements.

The sounds are funny, but they’re also fairly weak. The intensity of the battle action doesn’t seem to be accurately reflected by the sound effects, and battlefield comments such as “Grenade!” and “Thank you!” had me feeling like I was liberating POWs in Metal Slug.

All in all, Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars is a solid team-based shooter that should appeal to a lot of players out there. If you loved games such as Frontlines: Fuel of War or even Unreal Tournament you’ll be happy with this title. On the downside, there is a spate of technical issues and if you don’t have a fast internet connection or regularly experience connection issues, I wouldn’t suggest to pick up this game. Sure, there’s an offline component that is identical to that of online play, but playing with and against bots just doesn’t capture the strategy to be found online.

Finally, the move to the consoles should make this game available to many more people, but it costs twice as much as it does for PC and isn’t as good. If you have a solid gaming rig at home, I would suggest playing from your PC. However, anyone who picks up this title for the PS3 or 360 won’t be disappointed assuming all the features and functions are working tiptop.

The visuals are decent, but nothing to write home about. 4.0 Control
The controls are familiar to any FPS fan, but accessing grenades and melee weapons via the shoulder buttons is not ideal. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds are only passable. I don’t feel they do enough to convey the onscreen action. 4.0 Play Value
When functioning properly, this is a really fun game. The team-based strategic ethic is great. Plus, this online shooter will provide you with months of enjoyment. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Critical Acclaim: The game that won over forty E3, Editor’s Choice and Game of the Year awards now comes to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
  • Intense Mission Based Combat: QUAKE Wars pits teams against each other on massive maps located in desert, arctic and tropical environments.
  • Players battle through intense skirmishes with real military style objectives.
  • Offline & Online Modes: Hone your skills against surprisingly lifelike AI offline, then join the battle online with friends.
  • Unique Teams and Character Classes: The GDF and Strogg are two distinct armies with different soldier classes, weapons, vehicles and tactics.
  • Enjoy a modern military style of play with the GDF, or wield unearthly alien technology with the Strogg.
  • Team-Based Combat: Using class specific skills, players can be the linchpin of an entire operation. Players are rewarded for working together as a team to accomplish mission objectives.
  • Upgradeable Capabilities and Statistics: Over the course of a multi-mission campaign, players earn experience and promotions, and gain new skills to help the team. In addition, stats are globally recorded for players to track their rank and prestige in the Enemy Territory community.

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