IGN Review of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
If you're thinking of picking up Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, don't expect anything like Quake III Arena. Although it is a fast paced game bearing the Quake name, this is in no way a frenzied arena shooter where twitch skills reign supreme. Teamwork is the focus here, as Quake Wars requires different classes of players on Strogg and Global Defense Force sides to use their varying skills to attack and defend objectives. Anyone who played the Enemy Territory free expansion for Return to Castle Wolfenstein will be instantly familiar with this game, as it's made by the same people, Splash Damage, and retains a very similar feel and style of play. It's also highly entertaining in its own right.
We can't review this product yet since we've only been participating in a few press sessions held earlier in the week. In the last two days more and more servers have been popping up so we'll have the full review next week after we get a chance to mingle with the multitudes continuing to sign on in increasing numbers.
Quake Wars is part FPS, part RTS. You'll be using your guns and grenades quite frequently to blast away the opposition, but also find yourself destroying enemy structures and defenses, as well as constructing your own. Before starting play you create a user profile, the name of which can be colored using an easy in-game editor, instead of having to find out the codes yourself. Next comes server selection, where you pick a campaign to hop in and start earning experience.
Each campaign, of which there are four, is divided into three separate maps, each of which has numerous objectives. Ideally you'd want to join a campaign near the beginning of its three-map cycle, as you'll gain experience to unlock additional class and general skills that last until the cycle's end. You don't have to do it this way - you could just join a single-map game or play one map in a campaign and bail out, but it's much more fun to invest the hour or so it takes to plow through a full map cycle. Upgrades, such as increased health reserves, faster sprints, special items, and better weapons, are isolated to the campaign. This means it's not such a good idea to dive into a server running the third map of a campaign, as all the players will likely have advanced upgrades, whereas you'll have to start from square one. Your actions on the battlefield are not forgotten entirely upon a campaign's completion, as Quake Wars uses an extremely detailed persistent statistics system to track all your accomplishments.
As long as you're playing in ranked servers, the game will track total kills, overall number of rewards unlocked for each class and vehicle, as well as a multitude of numbers for each weapon. You'll also find more long term achievement medals obtained by completing a specific set of objectives which require many hours of play. Acquiring the medals results in profile rank-ups, the symbol for which is displayed on the in-game score lists. It functions as a badge of pride for dedicated players. Splash Damage went even further and built an overall player ranking, located
here, where everyone can see how the community's brightest are faring, as well browse a wealth of information on various classes, vehicles, weapons, and their own profile. While this may sound superfluous, it's a much appreciated feature that serves as this game's permanent reward structure, as opposed to the temporary in-campaign unlocks. Such a structure should be familiar to many online FPS gamers, but it's surprising how many other, newer online-focused game, such as Shadowrun, release without such features.
Getting back to the game itself, Quake Wars manages to stand out by requiring players to work together to win, something that's accomplished in few different ways. Every class has unique abilities that either directly complete a map objective, like Strogg Aggressors being the only ones capable of planting dynamite to blow up a structure, or to sustain an assault, like GDC Engineers repairing your team's anti-vehicle turrets or Medics reviving Soldiers on the front lines. There are side quests as well, which dynamically become available depending on the course of battle, and, when completed, net you experience bonuses. These include capturing additional spawn points, reviving teammates if you're a Medic, planting trip or proximity mines if you're an Engineer, destroying enemy turrets if you're a Field Ops, or calling down radar towers as a Covert Ops.
If the goal is for Covert Ops to hack a computer terminal located indoors, it's a good idea to send in some Medics with them for revives / healing, and a Soldier or two for fire support and to blow open additional assault paths. When the battle moves outside, Field Ops and Engineers become more useful. Both can deploy stationary turrets, though with varying effects. Field Ops can call in artillery and other long-range armaments, and can paint targets with a handheld laser device. Bombing runs, or orbital laser strikes in the Stroggs' case, can be initiated by Field Ops as well, making them ideal for wiping out entrenched enemy defenses. Engineers are better for holding territory, as they can set up anti-infantry and anti-vehicle turrets, place mines, and call in interceptor turrets that negate the effects of Field Ops' targeted barrages.
Considering the emphasis on teamwork, it's surprising to see Splash Damage did not include integrated voice chat support. If players want to talk to each other, they'll instead need to use external voice chat programs like Ventrilo or Team Speak. What is present in the game is a detailed chat system, letting players broadcast their positions, call out targets, issue commands, and the like, but it can't compare to the amount of information capable of being communicated with voice chat.
If you're sick of playing against human opponents or are having internet connection issues, some impressively intelligent bots can be added into games. These guys will commandeer vehicles and complete objectives with surprising efficiency, and, depending upon which level of skill you set them at, serve as challenging opponents in firefights. Should you prefer to complete all the objectives yourself, you can even toggle an option for bots to ignore them.
When the beta went live a while back, many complained about the graphics. It's not that they were bad, they're not, but when compared to some of the early screenshots released from Quake Wars, they just didn't and still don't match up. The much-hyped mega-texturing allows for some varied ground textures, but the model animations are still stiff and, in general, the look of the game isn't very inspired. The sound is somewhat disappointing as well, as many of the effects just fall flat. They're still recognizable and distinct, but they lack that elusive element that something like Halo's Needler or Unreal Tournament's Flak Cannon posses. Quake Wars' weapons, in general, just don't sound powerful enough. Then there are the chat commands, which often initiate a voice response. While it's often hilarious to hear GDF soldiers call out "Hi" in an absurdly enthusiastic tone, or their "Yeah yeah
no no no," it's rather jarring to hear "owned" screamed out in a gruff, Stroggish cadence.
That being said, we're still having a lot of fun with the game. You won't be disappointed with the engaging team-oriented gameplay, and the detailed stat-tracking is a nice bonus.
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