Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Review
The Enemy Territory name has been around a while, first appearing in the form of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, followed up by Enemy Territories: Quake Wars (ET: QW) for the PC. After quite a wait, ET: QW has finally reached our beloved consoles, but does it make the transition smoothly, or fall apart like far too many PC to console ports? Read on to find out.
ET: QW is a team-based shooter, similar to the likes of Battlefield 2 and Frontlines: Fuel of War. With that being said, it should be fairly obvious that this is not the game to choose if you are after a deep and compelling single player game. This is about multiplayer warfare, and it is quite the war. However, before I dive into the multiplayer aspects of the game, lets just focus on the single player aspect to begin with.
The single player modes in the game consist of the Campaign, and an Instant Action mode. As you can probably guess, the Instant Action mode thrusts you straight into a match filled out with AI bots. You can select various options such as the level you wish to play as, which team you want to be on (the human GDF or the alien Strogg), and also the level of difficulty of the bots. Whilst this mode can have some enjoyable moments, it is best to think of it as a sort of training exercise to prepare you for the online play. The bots do a reasonably admirable job of putting up a fight, although there are frequent moments where you will want to rip apart your team-mates for being so stupid. A fine example of this is when you are trying to bomb a target. You will plant a bomb onto the objective, and then have to defend it until it detonates. This all sounds fine. However, when the enemy engineers show up to disarm the bomb, your team mates will seem completely unaware of the fact that there is an engineer stood next to them disarming the bomb, and will instead focus on shooting some other enemy who happens to be a mile away.
The Campaign mode (and boy have they used that term lightly) simply consists of 3 levels per Campaign, which play out exactly the same as the Instant Action mode. Seriously, there is zero storyline elements, and nothing unique about the mode at all. I quite frankly felt cheated when I entered into the Campaign only top find out that it is just Instant Action missions strapped together. Bottom line, unless you are desperate for the achievements, the Campaign simply isn’t worth it.
So, the single player modes are pretty poor, but what about the actual gameplay? Well, I am pleased to report that ET: QW is one of the best team-based shooters that I have played in a long time, and there are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, the level designs are pure genius. A game of this type really depends on good level design, and ET: QW has really nailed it. There are numerous different ways to attack objectives, along with some beautifully designed choke-points, and brilliantly placed respawn locations, all of which mean the action is thick and fast, and never far away from you.
Of course, great level design doesn’t do much if the gameplay mechanics don’t match up to the same high standard, and thankfully they do for the most part. The guns feel great to use, the characters move nicely, and overall the whole gameplay engine feels very smooth. There are however a few possible issues with balancing. Some of the guns feels far too weak compared to others, and the Medic class is just ridiculous. Whereas in most games of this nature the medic has to kneel down and inject the wounded soldier (or something along those lines), in this it is pretty much an instant affair. This means that after I had killed 4 Strogg Agressors, a medic came along and managed to revive them all within the space of a couple of seconds, which is somewhat frustrating.
The final key gameplay element which sets ET: QW apart from the competition is the use of the various classes to complete objectives. Whereas most games of the same genre allow objectives to be completed by any class, the objectives in ET: QW can only be completed by certain classes. Need to blow up a vault door? Send in the Soldier. Need to hack into a satellite system? Send in the Covert Ops. This setup generally means that you end up with varied and diverse teams consisting of all the different classes. Unfortunately, this does not happen all the time, and fairly regularly I would be in a game where everyone was the class required to complete the objective. It is somewhat annoying to have 16 Covert Ops guys charging to hack a satellite, and then all switching to Soldiers in order to complete the next objective.
However, as great as some of this is, there are numerous elements that have been changed in the port from PC to console, some for the better, but most for the worse. The character movement speed has been increased for the console version, which I actually really liked, although it may put off some people. The big change, however, is the removal of the class rank system which occurred when your character ranked up during battle. Instead of the different abilities that were granted to the different classes, there is now generic boosts to your attributes which are shared between all of the classes, and this is really a poor decision as it takes away from the game so much.
Now we move onto the multiplayer of the game, and this is where ET: QW really shines. There is truly some great moments to be had when you team up with your buddies to organise a monstrous assault on the enemy base, with ground and aerial attacks all heading in to battle in tandem. This is the kind of experience that the game was built for, and it can only be done online, because regardless of how good bots are, you simply cannot strategise with them like you can with a human player.
There are 12 different levels to play, each of which sports three varied objectives; ranging from the basic capture the flag setup, to the intense task of escorting a vehicle through enemy lines. Also, each mission can be played as either GDF of Strogg, meaning each level can be played from an attack or defend scenario. All of this adds up to some nice replay value, and should keep you amused for quite some time.
While the gameplay of ET: QW stands up well, the graphics sadly don’t. The texture work is pretty poor and very bland, and the character models look nasty up close, and still fairly poor at a distance. The various weapons and vehicles all look horribly generic and the whole graphical package leaves you wanting so much more.
The sound in the game doesn’t fare any better, as hardly any of the weapons actually sound believable. The machine guns sound horrible and tinny, and explosions from grenades and rockets simply don’t give off any kind of satisfying boom. Voice acting is equally as poor, with the lines sounding like they were read by someone who is a hostage being forced to read them. Put simply, this is not a good sounding game.
Whilst ET: QW is a good team based shooter, the sound and graphics really let it down, and it is very disappointing to see some of the features from the PC version not making it into the port. If you don’t have Xbox LIVE, steer well clear of this because the AI simply doesn’t cut it. Still, if you have LIVE, and are looking for a fun online shooter to tide you over, you could do a lot worse than ET: QW.