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Quake 4 - PC - Review


Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 8.8 Great

“All right you maggots, haul ass or die!”

“Who’s the new guy?” 

“Matthew Kane, one certified bad-ass.”

“A guy like Kane could get us killed.”

“Shut up!” 

Language, gratuitous violence, the horror of war – you want it, Quake 4 delivers. But unlike some games that toss all that stuff in for shock value, Quake 4 has a purpose and everything you see or hear is well with the theme and mood of the game. This is a combat scene where the action never seems to stop, where you are always moving from one location to the next and with a few rather horrifying twists and turns in an otherwise linear plot.

id Software, Raven Software and Activision are the parties responsible for Quake 4 – as ain the fourth in the franchise, but to really understand where this iteration of the series is coming from, one has only to venture back in time to 1997 and the release of Quake II.

It seems that some people want a bit of a story to drive a first-person shooter and Quake 4 has a decent one to fuel the action. If you played Quake II, you may remember the Strogg tried to invade Earth and the fight was taken to them. But Earth’s initial assault fell short when a huge planetary defense weapon started to wipe out the returning invasion force (sure, it’s Ok when we do it to them, but don’t EVEN think of doing it back). A lone Marine was able to get through all the Strogg ground forces and disable the weapon, and Quake 4 picks up with the beginning of the assault on the Strogg homeworld. 

Not all goes according to plan, though. Resistance is plentiful. You see, the Strogg have a habit of taking prisoners and ‘Stroggifying’ them. What this entails, and what players will see in a horrific cutscene, is an assembly line where parts are removed in the most brutal fashion and cybernetic parts are added. The final process is a brain wipe and Strogg programming. As you might have guessed by now, Kane is captured and undergoes a lot of the ‘Stroggification’ process. He is rescued just short of the giant brain wipe and reprogramming. Essentially, he is a freak, part-Strogg, with enhanced abilities, an understanding of their language, and more reason to kill them on a planetary level – or attempt to.

There are vehicles to commandeer and drive through the levels, auto save points, and different enemies to enjoy blowing across the map. A nice little rag-doll effect enhances some of the Strogg deaths, but in closed areas, some of the Strogg died and instead of falling down, stood there until they dissolved. While it did not happen often, when it did, it resulted in a waste of ammunition until it was determined they were not moving to attack. The AI is also a little simple at times, especially at the lower difficulty settings. The mobs will run at you and you merely go into that stock shooter mode – stick your head into a room, mobs pop, you back up as you shoot to keep your distance while riddling them with whatever you are firing at them, they die and you repeat the tactic – to clear the area. Die and you can expect the same type mobs to appear in the same locations. While it does cut down on replay value, just crank up the difficulty setting to get a whole new feel for the game.

When in a vehicle, you will encounter some moving mobs that can do damage. First they whittle away at your armor, and then your health starts to drop. The walkers and tanks regen armor, and health, if you find a niche where you won’t take fire. Handy, but perhaps a little too forgiving on the game’s part.

And, of course, you will find ammo, health and other power-ups throughout levels, which is also somewhat standard for this style of game.

What sets Quake 4 apart, though, is the way that the game integrates the story with the seemingly non-stop action. If you are continually moving in the single-player game, there is always something to shoot at. The flow of the game will definitely hook players in and keep them glued to their chairs for a long time. Minutes will slip into hours here.

The control elements are all fairly intuitive and players won’t be bogged down fumbling with the control scheme.

Other shining areas for this game are the graphics and sound. The graphical default is merely Ok, but up the ante to what your system can handle and you will be impressed with the look of this game. The levels carry the right moods visually, and the sound, while maybe not all that inventive, just fires out of the speakers and rumbles with aural delight that you can feel in your bones (maybe my woofer is pushing too much?).

The multiplayer has the usual array of modes with 16-player caps over 14 maps with online support.

Quake 4 is not particularly innovative, but it sure is a lot of fun. Some of what is presented is quite graphical and the “Stroggification” process came from a very sick mind and is rendered out in a very nightmarish and haunting manner. Get past that and you have a diverse shooter with incredibly delicious production elements underscoring the story.

The game carries an “M” rating.

Review Scoring Details for Quake 4

Gameplay: 8.4
Linear levels and some suspect AI (mobs that run at you until either they or you are dead) detract a bit from the game, but the controls are intuitive and there is a diverse amount of weapons and vehicles you can use to liven up the game. The pacing is great.

Graphics: 9.2
This game is eye candy and will have you looking on in awe or wincing at some of the violence as it unravels before your eyes.

Sound: 9.2
5.1 system? 7.1 system? Then just crank it. Do yourself a favor and crank the volume now. Feel the chaos as well as hear it as that woofer pounds you and the storm of violence surrounds you. The staccato of gunplay is somewhat stock, but the underlying musical score is great at setting and maintaining the mood.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
Four settings, from private to general. Private allows shooter neophytes to succeed; General will challenge even the hardcore. Private comes with the description of “try not to shoot yourself in the foot,” whereas General’s description is “An unstoppable death machine.” Those are referring to gamer attributes, of course.

Concept: 8.3
Nice touch on advancing a great Quake storyline, good emphasis on the single-player aspect, but the tactics can be stock FPS and mobs popping out at the gamer is a DOOM tactic that is still fresh.

Multiplayer: 8.4
There are two kinds of players in the multiplayer universe here – those who can move, target and shoot, and their targets – a.k.a. those who stand, try to target and squeeze off a few rounds. This is a lot harder than chewing bubblegum and walking. The game does have a nice array of maps although the game types are somewhat standard.

Overall: 8.8
A bit linear in level design, but the game has a variety of attack styles and some truly horrific cutscenes. Strap it on and prepare for the chaos of an invasion force biting off more than it can chew. The game’s sound rumbles and roars, the graphical elements are both delicious and horrific, and the action is non-stop – all exactly what was called for, and what was delivered with style.

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