Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
In the PC market, there is an overabundance of team-based war games. The success of Battlefield 1942 spawned a laundry list of imitators, much like Grand Theft Auto III did on consoles. Id Software and Splash Damage’s foray into the battleground market was the popular Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Adding more complex objectives to the Battlefield standard, Enemy Territory proved successful. That being said, it costed significantly less than its competitors. It was free. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, a sort of pseudo-sequel to Enemy Territory set in the Quake II universe (yeah, it’s complicated), is a full-price attempt to compete in the online tactical shooter market. Considering that it’s a four year old graphics engine running on a six year old game engine, How does it hold up to today’s standards?
Quake veterans are going to be in for a surprise when they fire up this latest installment. The gameplay is generally slow-paced, with large teams (up to 16 a side) spread across a battlefield. Both teams have specific classes, like soldiers and snipers, which are fairly standard team game fare. However, classes like the Field Ops are more interesting, with very little in the way of confrontational ability. This player has no chance in a fight, but sneaking around has an upside: they can call in massive airstrikes, and deploy turrets and radar equipment to give their team the upper hand. With a good team, Quake Wars provides plenty of options for strategy, including land and air vehicles. Because death comes so swiftly, it’s a good idea to try new things and find a niche to fit into. In fact, it’s a bit odd that a game about evil zombie alien things invading Earth is so realistic. While it isn’t in the slightest bit intellectual, like Halo or Half-Life, it requires some serious cooperation with other people. Thankfully, the helpful HUD will outline current objectives for your specific class, and also features a really nice command system. By clicking down the scroll wheel of the mouse, a menu pops up with different categories like Team, Need, Vehicle, and Taunt, which in turn have sub-options which can be selected for specific cries like “I need a medic!” or “You need to build the objective!” Even with these luxuries, the game is a fairly standard team-based shooter, but this coat of interface paint is very nice all the same.
With the Id logo on the box, one would expect Quake Wars to feature the very best graphics the industry has to offer. Unfortunately, Quake Wars runs on the Doom 3 graphics engine. While certainly not ugly, it’s obvious that an engine designed for rendering claustrophobic and detailed environments has been stretched to its outer limits. The character models all look nice, but buildings, vehicles, and special effects all leave something to be desired. It’s especially annoying to see a modern action game that does not feature ragdoll. In fact, not even the environment can be manipulated. Seeing a hovercraft explode next to a pile of boxes that remain completely stationary will be a nostalgia trip for some; it’s really not on for a game to look and sound like Quake Wars when the back of the box arrogantly claims “Unparalleled graphics and physics!” Then again, I suppose the lack of a rudimentary collision code is pretty unique in 2007. At least the game sounds nice, with a rousing orchestral score and appropriately cheesy voiceovers. For some bizarre reason, though, it has no VOIP chat capabilities. Expect to hear the game’s own voices a lot.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a fun game. However, PC gamers looking to squeeze the most out of their gaming rig will be disappointed by the dated mechanics underneath the game. Granted, if it isn’t broken, nothing needs fixing, but bland graphics and nonexistent physics are definitely something that should be regarded as “broken”. Come on, Id, where’s the mind-blowing feast for the eyes? Splash Damage has done an admirable job with the game interface, but the fact is that if you’re still pouring hours into Star Wars Battlefront II, Battlefield 2, or (god forbid) 2142, then there’s no real need to jump ship to Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. On the other hand, it is probably worth trying out for some, thanks to the extremely tactical gameplay. Team games are intense and brain straining, and cooperation on the battlefield can be extremely rewarding. While it isn’t a technical marvel like Doom 3 or Quake 4, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a solid crossover game.