| |

Quake 4 Review

Developer: id Software Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: PC

There are good first-person shooters out there. Those shooters contain a story that captivate the player enough to blast through a dozen or so levels of shooting, dodging, and grenade-lobbing. Those levels generally have multiple objectives that are varied, from bombing a structure to rushing a certain location and killing everything from point A to point B while staying alive. Those shooters are generally accompanied with attractive graphics and pulse-pounding music. The Xbox 360 version of Quake 4 doesn’t have many of those qualities. It’s not a terrible game, but it’s one of the least impressive shooters I’ve played this year.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

In Quake 4’s brainless campaign, you’ll strap on the armor of the space marine Matthew Kane, a member of the Rhino Squad that is attacking the evil Strogg on their home planet. The biomechanical beasts are foul, dirty, and ruthless–and a small twist near the middle of the game will show you and Corporal Kane just how dirty the Strogg can be. I thought that it was nice for Raven to throw in a truly unexpected story twist but I never really found the rest of the game to be very interesting. At least the second half of the campaign is fast, frantic, and intense. It’s preferable to the first half. Overall the game is about 10-12 hours long, clocking in at or near the shooter average.

It’s the gameplay that had me letdown and shaking my head. Quake 4 plays like a good first person shooter…from 2001. The fragging is so ridiculously generic from the start of the game until the very end. Some will say it’s just Quake’s traditional gameplay; I say it’s boring. You’ll pick up progressively stronger and better guns but at the same time your enemies get a little faster, a little bigger and a little more deadly. There’s a balance established between strong weapons and strong enemies. However, most of the action consists of running forward throughout similar rooms, finding the Strogg, and shooting them until they fall over and their corpses disappear. They don’t move around much at all, they often don’t even try to evade your fire, and they don’t try to outsmart you in the slightest bit. Usually they’ll stand in place, move towards you, and shoot you without taking much cover or attempting to get around you for an easier kill. A few of the enemies have different tactics but these tactics are usually just slight variations from the “stand-and-shoot” or “run-and-slash” strategy. It’s disappointing when games like Call of Duty 2 have such impressive intelligence.

The guns you get can be pretty cool but I discovered that almost anything can be killed quickly and effortlessly with a few well-placed shotgun blasts or an entire clip of machine gun ammo, even near the end of the game. The enemies don’t take much cover, which is an example set for the player–running around and mindlessly shooting doesn’t have many repercussions, because it isn’t necessary to hide very often. Because of this, even inexperienced gamers can plow through this game’s action. If you have to play through this game, play it on a hard difficulty setting unless you simply want to cruise right on through it.

The only things that break up the action even the slightest bit are a few vehicular distractions, which are admittedly a lot of fun. One of them puts you on the back of an on-rails truck, shooting off the Strogg with your own weapons. The next throws you into the cockpit of a hovering tank, where you can quickly fire off missiles and pound the opposition with machine gun fire. The most exciting and last vehicle is the walker, which can use lock-on missiles and machine gun fire to rapidly take down enemies. These distractions are a lot of fun and it’s a shame that the rest of the game is so generic.

Multiplayer, on and offline, isn’t any more interesting than the single-player. What should have been a frantic set of games turns out to be pretty dull and generally unexciting. Eight people can join up in a single game and of course you can frag each other in deathmatches but there isn’t anything here that impressed me in the slightest bit. All these years I’ve heard about how much fun Quake can be in terms of multiplayer and I’m let down by gameplay that simply isn’t interesting. Not to mention, Xbox Live is very inconsistent with the already-low frame rate (which I’ll mention momentarily) makes Quake 4 more frustrating to play than it ever should have been.

Visually, it is very difficult to classify Quake 4. There were certain parts during the game that I was admittedly impressed with Raven’s choice for art and style. There is a lot of detail throughout the environments, from blood-splattered walls to gears and mechanisms scattered around the various rooms. Even the nicely-lit interior locations, which compose most of the game, are interesting. Corridor shooting isn’t nearly as repetitive when the bulk of the graphical factor isn’t stale and boring.

On the other hand, player models are very generic and almost every marine looks like his partners. One marine might have different hair and another might have a different skin color. The models also look so jagged without a high-resolution screen that it appears they have spikes or fur. Quoting a friend, “Quake 4 has cactus graphics.” The effects are extremely dull, whether it’s the Nintendo 64-calibur muzzle flash or the fire and smoke effects that would look at home in a generic PlayStation 2 game. The music isn’t very good, either. Where Perfect Dark Zero set a mood with its tunes, Quake 4 does nothing to pump the player up for any battle or confrontation. It’s not epic, it’s not exciting, and it fails to impress me at all. The voice acting is alright, but the dialogue is so clichéd and generic that it cancels out any sort of impressing aural quality.

Overall, Quake 4 is a big disappointment. What was supposed to be a visually stunning, pulse-pounding shooter ends up being one of the dullest launch titles on the Xbox 360. The story is interesting enough to pull you through 10 hours of generic and brainless action, and the vehicular distractions are a quick and effortless blast, but that’s about the furthest Quake 4 goes. If you’re a Quake fan, I wouldn’t question you if you rented the game but I’d have to frown down on anyone who decides to buy this game. There isn’t enough here in terms of depth or new, modern shooter attractions. Pick up Perfect Dark Zero or Call of Duty 2 instead. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.6
Written by Cliff Review Guide