Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars
Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars is the award-winning spiritual successor to the free and incredibly fun FPS Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, a game notorious for its incredibly strong fanbase. Instead of taking place in the World War II era of Wolfenstein, this time players are fighting the war in the Quake universe that takes place between Quake II and Quake 4. At first glance, it looks inspired by the Battlefield series of games, with large and open maps full of vehicles, as well as a class system with upgrades. While there is definitely evidence that the game was modeled loosely on those games, QUAKE Wars still retains elements that started with Wolfenstein and combines the two’s ideas. Do they get along to create cohesive gameplay?
The first thing to note about the Xbox 360 version is that it’s missing features that are present in the PS3 and PC versions. While somewhat minor, the lack of the stat-tracking and cockpit view is certainly disappointing, and QUAKE Wars only has a player limit of 16; on the PC it is 24 (you can surpass this limit unofficially as well). There is a party system in the 360 version, which works similar to the standard Halo 3 one.
There are four main modes: Campaign, Instant Action, Training, and Xbox Live/System Link. The singleplayer Campaign mode consists of nothing more than you and some bots playing the online Campaign mode offline, as is the Instant Action mode, though with the latter you can use other gametypes and customizations. The bots, in my opinion, are quite impressive for what they are, but are not really necessary in a game that is primarily based around playing with other people. The Training mode is by the far the most useful offline mode, and really should be played by anyone before they go online. Normally, tutorials are incredibly tedious and just there to help people who don’t want to look at a manual or check online, but this one makes sense due to the more complex ideas going on in this game. The other two modes feel even more tacked on than the Training mode, as ironic as it sounds.
There are three gametypes when playing multiplayer: Stopwatch, Objective, and Campaign. Stopwatch is a race against the clock as one team must complete the map as soon as possible, and then each team swaps and then whoever defended previously must try and beat the objectives faster than the previously attacking team. Objective is merely based around completing a map’s objective. Finally, Campaign mode is a series of maps contained in a single series, and each team tries to win the most maps out of the campaign.
The game utilizes a class system, and each team has five different classes, each unique and necessary to have a strong team (each team essentially has the same class, though they are called different things). In addition to having several classes, QUAKE Wars, like Wolfenstein: ET, has an experience points system, or “XP”. As you complete your role, kill enemies, etc, you are awarded XP. These provide you with new abilities or upgrades. Examples include the Medic/Technician gaining an upgrade to health pack drops, thus giving out more health in each pack. These stats do not stay permanently, but are present for the duration of the game. This allows the game to be fair for everyone, as nobody has anything extra above any other players.
The gunplay is fairly good, though it feels as though it may be too fast to play on a controller. The controls themselves seem standard, with nothing elevating it above any other FPS on the 360’s controls. In my experience, sniping was quite difficult due to the speed of movement, though I got used to it after enough play time. The weapons are balanced and varied, and it’s nice that each side has entirely different designs for everything. I’m not quite so keen on the vehicles, as they feel out of place, and they don’t particularly control all that well. The biggest disappointment with QUAKE Wars is the lack of variation in the maps, which mostly consist of desert environments, and are quite bland and have no characteristics that make them stand out too much. Perhaps a map pack will come out in the future, but on the PC, where maps are free to download, this is something that hurts the non-moddable 360 port.
Visually, everything looks fairly dated. The mighty DOOM 3 engine just can’t hold its weight against many of the other current-gen shooters, though the art itself is quite nice and varied. The animations seem smooth, and the frame rate is fine, usually. However, online I noticed quite a big drop in some matches, and this in conjunction with the constant lag I experienced makes me wonder if the game was truly tested enough by Nerve. It can take some time to find matches, which is the downside of a party system. It’s a shame there wasn’t an attempt to allow dedicated servers, which may have helped performance online incredibly.
In summation, to me QUAKE Wars works a lot better on the PC than it does on the console, and the lack of anything new to the game for the console ports is ridiculous in my eyes, as the game took a long time to finally arrive. It reminds me of the days of the original Xbox, where you had basic ports that differed in no way shape or form to the original versions other than inferior graphics and online options. The game is not horrible by any means, but it stands as a lazy port of a fairly good game with no effort put into making it work better on a console. Slapping a party system onto it doesn’t magically make it something special, and there are so many other things I can think of that could have been done that weren’t, such as bringing over the best community maps, the previously mentioned dedicated server option, and making the controls more console-centric. I’d advise interested gamers to stick with the PC verison and skip this affair altogether.