Quake, Quake, Quake, Quake. An innovative way to begin my review reflecting that this is indeed the fourth instalment in the epic Quake series. This game runs on the Doom 3 engine and attempts to take the series to a new level, not in game play terms but in the terms of graphical prowess.
It is debatable (but only by fools) that this game has pioneered the graphical standards of PC gaming. So when I saw that this game was coming to XBOX 360 my heart flopped and skipped a beat. What a way to show what the 360 can do, what an immense opportunity for “id” software. Ironic really that a game that is well renowned for it’s graphics, should fail on its graphics.
See, I am going to be bitchy from the start of this review, then lighten the tone as the review goes on, because this isn’t a bad game at all; this is a flawed game. It is a real great shame for id software as the conversion of what is a solid PC title just hasn’t delivered simply because there are so many errors in the graphical side of things.
On the PC everything in Quake 4 looked lush - from the textures on the walls, to the replication of the sky, something which immediately is lost on the 360 version. Everything looks slightly blurred and dirty and it is a real blow when you realise right from the early stages of the game that the overall experience will be nothing like the PC version; then you enter the heat of battle…
… And the frame rate drops, heftily. In fact the frame rate just goes completely tits up, in some areas so much so that the whole game begins to fall to bits. While I understand that slowdown will occur in video games from time to time, it is a real waste to see the core body of Quake 4 ripped to shreds because of this one fatal flaw, but unfortunately it cannot be overlooked because the slowdown occurs in virtually every situation where there is a lot happening on screen. Quake 4 is a game that bases its laws on speed, and the serious lack of it takes away a lot of the fun.
Quake 4 picks up where Quake 3 left off in terms of the single player mode by providing a fairly clichéd but relevant storyline involving the war between war and aliens. You play as Matthew Kane, a new recruit to a squadron known as Rhino, and on your way to a mission the drop ship manages to crash land. Interestingly enough the other members of your team make it clear that they don’t think you will last, and thus when the ship crash lands you are presumed to be dead. It wouldn’t be much of a game if you were, so in a perplexing twist of human laws you manage to escape the drop ship and set on your journey.
The single player mode isn’t riveting, but it is by no means bad at all, and thus id should be congratulated by supporting a game that will be renowned for its multiplayer modes with a solid, fairly lengthy and interesting single player adventure.
There are a range of weapons padding out the game, all making for interesting and new ways to play, and ensuring that you refine your tactics in order to progress. For example using the machine gun requires a very much different stylistic of play to that of using the standard blaster you are accompanied with at the start of the game.
Online, Quake 4 has tried to take all the positives from Quake 3, from the use of jump pads, to the aggressive commentator. Online everything feels solid, and while you can only have 8 people to a room (opposed to the PC’s superior 16) the game runs pretty smoothly through the Live system with minimum amounts of lag (apart from the slow down caused by the actual software, of course). A huge problem I had with Quake 4 online was a real lack of opposition, perhaps because first person fans looked to Perfect Dark Zero to get the ball rolling on the 360’s online FPS life.
Included in the box of Quake 4 are a range of interesting extra’s: a making of DVD and a copy of Quake 2 optimised for performance on the 360. Awesomely (and ironically enough) it is the older game which manages to perform better out of the two as the game is free from slow down or frame rate issues. It also maps quite nicely to the 360 control pad.
In all, Quake 4 is a solid game, and it is something that I really want to love, and give it a score of 7 or 8. The single player while being slightly dull compared to some games, is solid enough, and deserving enough of a good score, but the frame rate issues really do kill what could have been a good game. Whether it was the rushed release of the 360 that has caused a disaster for the conversion or a lack of testing I don’t know. Still the free copy of Quake 2 is worth the money alone.