The "Quake" series is an iconic image in the gaming world. It's one of the first games that used 3D acceleration; soon after, "Quake 2" followed and set a new standard in game engines and development. "Quake 3" became similar with the word multiplayer by being just that, a multiplayer focused game. "Quake 3 Arena" didn't have the success it was meant to, but it delivered one of the most versatile engines known to date which powered dozens of games until recently.
id Software became one of the most powerful and respected developer studios, lead by John Carmack, a guru figure among gamers and publishers alike. They had so much success that it actually made them immune to the laws of economics. About six years ago, they started to develop a revolutionary game engine to power future products. Such a long time in development would have sent any other company to bankruptcy, but it made them stronger. The final product, named Doom 3, provided a new standard in graphics even before it hit the market. The engine was beautiful, even if it was blamed for the lack of opened spaces or some other reasons. It was inevitable for someone else to pick it up and use it.
"Quake 4" was the next logical step. Under the close supervision of id Software, Raven Software started the development. They had a lot of success in the past with the "Soldier of Fortune" series and "Jedi Knight" so they were the right choice. How it came out... we'll see in a moment.Story:
The story picks up practically were Quake 2 left it. You are a marine from the Rhino squad on route for the Strogg planet to deliver a final punch to the alien capital. I am not entirely sure if this was the right decision because games today are mostly accused of superficial plots. Anyway, your ship is shot down (of course), but somehow you manage to survive and when you wake up, all you have is your standard issue gun with infinite ammo in hand. Gameplay:
From now on the whole game is served by step to step instructions. You have to open some door, to get to the hangar in order to blow the fighter so that you and the remaining marines can attack in large numbers. There are some breathing points along the way and some
third person cut-scenes.
This is a straight shooter. Run, something jumps in front of you, shoot it and move along. Protect, destroy and run again. Might seem simple, but it can get you addicted. The weapons are very well designed and deliver a lot of firepower, but the most reliable is the second one you find, the machine gun. Unlike other shooters, this one has a very interesting feature: you can zoom it. It has a deadly accuracy and it's very efficient. You will find everything you want: shotgun, railgun, nailgun and my personal favorite, the dark matter gun.
Every projectile now has an impact. The enemies get shaken by the force of bullets, they can't hit you right and die in various ways. The physics engine is now improved, not only for the bodies and rag doll animations but for some objects too, which is a nice touch.
The AI isn't too bad. The Strogg have different tactics like strafing (with jump), hide, run and all sorts of maneuvers. They don't act in teams. It's not a downside because they tend to come in large numbers. If they would have cooperated it would have been impossible to survive.
The real problem isn't the enemy's AI. It's your teammates' AI. Sometimes, they don't seem to have any. They mostly move in a scripted way and you can't move them out of your path. I once had a situation where I had to retreat through a door because a very large individual (who presumably wanted me dead in a very painful way) was coming with high speed towards me, and surprise, the doorway was blocked by one of my helpful teammates. I got killed. The second time I got killed again. Guess what? There was a third time. They just wouldn't move.Video:
What can I say? It's a Doom 3 engine. You can't really blame Raven because it looks the same. And yet, they have done a great job in improving it. They managed to boost its performance quite well. You have to keep in mind this is no longer a smooth gameplay with claustrophobic corridors and four monsters at a time. There is a war going on around you, with ships flying over, huge guns firing in space, explosions, mortar fire and on top of that, a lot of enemies.
Even with all this action going on, if your computer was able to play Doom 3 at a reasonable frame rate, you should be able to play it without major problems. This is a beautifully rendered game, featuring a lot of bump mapping, specular lightning and 16x anisotropy option. It has lot of small details like panels ripped out of the walls, huge machines in the background doing what huge machines usually do and even bullet decals on bodies. Raven payed a lot of attention to the small things, which in the end makes all the difference.
Being a Doom engine it means it has its very own button for Mods, right in the main screen. We should see an abundance of mods really soon, with all kind of improvement and tweaks.
Another part that should concern a lot of potential gamers is it's "The way it's meant to be played" mark. Even if the logo doesn't appear, it's already obvious that it's going to have an edge over ATI graphic cards. Nvidia launched in the same day some beta drivers (81.85) with a Quake 4 profile. The next drivers from ATI (5.11) should be able to have a better performance in OpenGL driven games.Sound:
This chapter isn't going to be very interesting. The sounds are well implemented, but they aren't going to blow you away. The music is mostly interactive and dynamic with nothing special. You can't really say anything bad about it. This whole section is good but doesn't excel at any particular point.Multiplayer:
Unfortunately, people have just got tired of plain fashion deathmatch. Even if in some way Quake invented the multiplayer, they haven't brought anything new this time. Moreover, they remade some of the old maps. Someone with a major lack of inspiration told them that if they'll make the same it's going to have a huge success. He was wrong. If there's one chapter of this game that it's going to drag the game down, multiplayer is the one. General impression:
Being just a sequel, I wasn't expecting a great game. I thought the engine will be limited in outdoor environments and I didn't give it too much credit. Raven Software managed somehow to defeat all these problems and deliver a fast paced game with a lot of fun and great potential.
You may consider it "Call of Duty in the future with a Doom 3 engine, Quake 2 characters and a personal flavor".