The same guys that made Enemy Territory made Quake Wars, yeah, sod the preamble. I'm not in the mood for a long-winded opening speech this morning. I want to get back to playing the game (cue Triple-H's theme). Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Splash Damage's foray into the world of Battlefield style online Multiplayer madness that the likes of 2142 and Modern Combat have held supreme for a while.
Even Lucasarts have had a stab at this particular style of game with their Battlefront series. ETQW however is a pretty good attempt at getting a dynamic frontline war into a game. It keeps the player focussed on the action and allows for some nice story-driven campaign maps. The controls are simple enough that anyone familiar with a FPS on PC with a mouse and keyboard can use, there are some specific keys for various things but a quick look at the control settings will give you a good knowledge of the ones that you need to memorise.
WASD and the mouse are my chosen control method and the game has enough tweaks in terms of control, graphic and sound options to allow it to run on a variety of machines fairly smoothly. There were some jitters on mine and those vanished after the first patch. You probably don't care about all this anyway, so let's dive into the meat and bone of the game. The campaign and combat. It works really simply; the story is set as Earth's forces the GDF (Global Defence Force) face off against the first invasion of those loveable alien sex-machines: the Strogg.
The Strogg are bent on taking over the Earth and it's time for the humans to show them, they're not going to take it lying down. You can play maps how you want, set them up how you want with bots and a mix of human players, it's got that level of control you want from a game that dares to have the word: Quake, in the title. Let's face it, Quake was awesome and there's nothing that'll ever change that. Once you're set up and you're ready to rock, it's time to get into the fighting.
There's a short warm-up where you can run around and frag things until the match starts proper, the teams are divided and it's time to check your objectives. Quake Wars offers the prospective player a lot of choices, in terms of the classes (that are superbly balanced) and in terms of what you have to do. Along with the dynamic frontline there's also dynamic mission objectives that change per role. There's a role (and counter role if you're a Stroggie) available for everyone.
I picked Recon, because face it; I'm a sneaky sod that likes to backstab the enemy. Your chosen class can be outfitted with a different weapon load-out before you spawn and you can always change class by hitting up the limbo menu and making the requisite alterations before you spawn in again (when you die you can go to the limbo menu, respawn as you are or wait for a medic) so it's not like you're stuck in the same old class forever.
It was my task to place a radar unit, hack an anti-vehicle turret to begin with, but quickly the list shifted as objectives were completed and new ones added. Even Bots can complete objectives in this one and the AI is often that good it's hard to tell them apart from the human players. As you complete core objectives the frontline shifts and you're always kept close to the action. If you're far enough away, then there's a plethora of vehicles to get into and most of them are pretty decent with a number of firing and control positions. The only thing I can't stand are the flyers, the control system needs refining a lot. You also earn upgrades and perks as you gain experience and rank up, to do so, you have to use the various elements of your class. Like a pistol for instance can rank up and give you a bonus etc.
Once you complete your objectives and win the map, you move onto the next in the list, or in campaign mode you'll move onto the next objective based part of the campaign set you're playing at the time.
That's about enough for the gameplay, since it's more about you picking up the game and playing it than it is me twittering on. Next up is the techy-side of things, well, not really. The graphics of ETQW use mega-texturing and it provides a pretty slick looking game right from the get-go even on just auto-detected options, play around with the settings and depending on your rig, you can have a nice looking game that plays as sweet as a nut.
The level designs are great and there are numerous interior and exterior locations, all waiting for some serious mayhem. The maps provide a lot of tactical options as well as having big enough areas for some serious confrontations to occur. The effects are top-notch as you'd expect for such a game and the weapon graphics are just as good. We're talking a nicely rounded package in terms of those areas.
The animations can look a little flat and once again the Quake engine developers don't quite seem to have mastered the art of getting models to climb ladders, this always does my head in and breaks the immersion for me when I see someone run up a ladder holding the gun and basically using the same god damn run animation that they've used for the past million times. Come on, if CDProjekt can turn the Bioware Aurora Engine into something that looks better than KotoR (with the Witcher) you guys can make a dude climb up a ladder!
That minor rant out of the way, the AI! As I mentioned previously, it's good. It's got a grasp of objectives and it'll usually complete them with the minimum of fuss. At times you won't know the difference between the Bots and the human players and the game's just as fun offline as it is on, good training too. You can toggle the Bots complete objectives setting on and off as well, so if you want to be the ultimate hero and take all the glory you can.
Sound: Yeah, it's got sound? Anything else! Ok, seriously. The sound in the game's good, the weapons are chunky and they don't sound like Halo 3's pop-gun-tart weapons with their pif-pif weak noises and whisper-quiet gun reports. These have BOOM-SHAKKA-LAKKA to them and that's what counts.
Voice: Don't get me started, weakest part of the game; they picked the most generic sounding worst voice actors on the face of the planet. I know it's not meant to win any kind of vocal awards but would it have killed them not to use people who sound like they're gargling a half-block of cheese and the grater to go with it? The repeated voice work gets right on my nerves and makes me want to kill people, so mission accomplished. No Jack Thompson, this is not a Terrorist Training Simulator, if you want one of those go bother someone else's video game.
In short then, Quake Wars is a great game let down a bit by some online networking issues that I didn't really mention so I'm telling you now, since you scrolled down all the way to the end hoping for a summary. It does suffer from some disconnects, but these will vanish in a patch or two since Quake's code has always been solid. You can play it over a Lan as well or on your own. It has a good mix of classes for both sides and the maps are large enough to remain interesting but not boring.
If you like the B-Field games and want something new, grab this. It's good.