A game such as this needs no special introduction. Id software's Quake was one of the first FPS's to hit the market and it was more than well accepted. A steady and interesting singleplayer campaign complemented by a fast paced and well balanced multiplayer assured its future in the years to come. This sequel, the fourth in line, leaves almost nothing to be desired.
The Railgun... can you feel the powah? Can you feel it!?
Another blast from the past is the Electro cannon, looking good as always
We now go approximately 10 years forward. Computer technology has thrived, and with it, the gaming industry as well. When Quake 4 was announced, there was a lot of skepticism involved considering its release. Will it be a worthy successor to the multiplayer franchise called Quake 3? Will it be a failure like so many games before? Well, the answer is staring me in the face as I write this, and it is a good one.
The game starts at the exact same moment where Quake 2 leaves off. A lone marine kills the Strogg leader and flees in an escape pod. In the meantime, a battle rages high above the toxic clouds of Strogg as the human marine corps try to send a final and devastating blow to the Strogg. You, Mathew Kane, have only recently been added to Rhino squad, and immediately transported to the surface of the planet. After a rather messy landing, you find yourself in the trenches on Strogg, surrounded by enemy fire and packed together with only a handful of survivors from the assault. It is your duty to rendezvous with the rest of your squad, and in doing so you venture deep into the Strogg stronghold and, as it usually is with these types of games, witness horrors beyond your imagination. An interesting twist in the game is when you are captured by the Strogg, and forced into their service... well, almost, since you get rescued just before they insert you with some sort of chip which eliminates any and all brain functions.
The graphics are based on an improved Doom 3 engine, which work pretty well, even if the hardware demands are borderline astronomic. The environments in the game are gorgeous, well, gorgeously made anyway... blood, guts and remnants of medical experiments can hardly be called beautiful. Considering the Strogg practice cybernetic technology, which of course requires human specimens; those are the kind of things you can expect to be running in to during the course of your single player campaign. An example if I may; as you enter an improvised medical bay, the first thing you see is a fellow marine strapped to the table; his chest opened widely revealing in detail all of his organs, and strange machines halfway through butchering him completely. As you turn your head, you notice a human torso, still alive, and with each limb connected to a pipeline that doesn't look the least comfortable.
Not all the environments in the game are dark, bloody claustrophobic labs
Tied and helpless... and aware of the entire process
As this is an FPS, I guess I should mention the arsenal at your disposal. Ranging from a simple machinegun, through a rocket launcher, grenade launcher, a nasty looking nailgun, all the way to a dark matter gun which consumes everything in its path; a BFG with a different name. Of course, I should mention the weapon that most gamers remember Quake by; the Rail gun; accurate and deadly as always.
Probably the most memorable moment in the game is your Stroggification. Imagine lying helplessly on a moving table, waiting in line for the dreadful Strogg machinery to find its way into your body and mind. As if that wasn't enough, there is another marine in line in front of you, and before it's your turn, you see everything that awaits you. Such as a huge needle piercing your chest, a saw hacking off your legs, and mechanical legs nailed in with brute efficiency. And just as your sanity is to be lost forever, you are rescued by fellow marines.
The multiplayer portion of the game is pretty basic. Not much deviation from the fast paced game style we saw in Quake 3. An interesting fact is that few of the maps are remakes of old Quake 2 & 3 maps; such as "The longest yard" and so on. Of course to fully enjoy the multiplayer experience, a high speed broadband connection is essential.
Another fun thing is that a large portion of the game will be fought side by side with other marines. Some providing pure firepower, and some healing you or replenishing your armor. The AI is pretty good, nothing special, but also nothing that would irritate you. For instance, teammates ducking behind crates as you open a door, or enemies finding cover in between shots. All this really makes you feel like you're a part of the game, a quality rarely seen in FPS games. I guess it would be in order to mention the vehicles. I think one word is sufficient to describe the vehicle levels of the game; boring. The game could've done very well without it, but I guess not everything can be perfect.
Some levels really have a Doom 3 feeling about them
It may seem fun... but its hardly worth the screenshot
QUAKE 4 VERDICT
To conclude; Quake 4 is worthy of its name. Most of this is because of the fun single player campaign, but the multiplayer should not (and will not) go unnoticed. Its biggest downside is the high system requirements, but nothing’s stopping you from playing on 640x480, is it? If you’re an FPS fan then you can’t afford to skip this fine product. Even if you’re like me, and play an FPS every decade or so, take a whack at it, you’ll probably like it.