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Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Acivision
Developer: id Software

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Xbox 360 Review - 'Enemy Territory: Quake Wars'

by Glenn "Otter" Juskiewicz on July 25, 2008 @ 2:40 a.m. PDT

Developed by Splash Damage and built on id Software's new MegaTexture rendering technology, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars pits the armies of Earth against the invading alien Strogg in the ultimate online strategic shooter. Featuring strategic team play, persistent character promotions, day and nighttime combat missions, and the universe's most powerful weapons and vehicles, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars transports players to the front lines of an epic new war for Earth.

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Z-Axis
Release Date: May 27, 2008

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is, in my opinion, Quake in name only. It's a first-person shooter that attempts to make itself more important by adding territory battles, class systems, and various vehicles to the mix. Rather than burden you with such things as accurate targeting, gripping cut scenes with FMV, varieties of exotic locations and maps, and a compelling story line, ET: QW cuts straight to the chase and gives you a first-person shooter where you're simply battling for lines in the sand.

The sheer fun of running mindlessly through various levels and shooting everything that moves has been replaced by a territorial battlefield where certain objectives have to be met in order to push back the enemy. The objectives can be anything from holding down an enemy waypoint to hacking a computer or opening a set of doors. I don't know, I guess hacking a gigantic computer in the middle of a war zone makes the enemy back up a handful of yards. There really isn't any subplot here; the mindless shooting has just been supplemented with mindless objective encounters. While convenient to advancing the battle, there's really nothing tactical about it. Someone of a higher rank barks at you to get over and blast open those doors, and you go over and blast open those doors.

I thought the idea of various classes could've been a clever approach, as you can dynamically change from a soldier to a medic or from a medic to an engineer. Each class has different abilities that allow you to accomplish different territorial objectives. If you start as a soldier but then find that you need an engineer to hack a set of controls, you can switch classes. Doing so will pull you out of the FPS battle and parachute you down to a safe point where you can then advance. It's clever in theory, but again, there isn't much to it. Don't even get me started on how flawed it is in the solo campaign mode. Am I supposed to believe that I'm the only person who can switch over to an engineer and open a set of doors? No one else can do that, seriously? Thanks. No pressure.

Speaking of parachuting, don't think that you'll have to run all the way back to the front line. No, there are tons of vehicles including APCs, tanks, four-wheeled ATVs, and even jet packs. I don't care what game you're playing, but everything is made exactly 10 times more fun when you can climb into a tank and fire a shell at the enemy when they're still on foot. I'm easily amused like that. I almost feel bad in saying that the vehicles are really the best part of ET: QW. The modeling and maneuvering of all the vehicles feel right. This sounds like a good thing, but when viewed in the rest of the context of the game, it's so, so sad.

You better hope that you get into those vehicles yourself, though, because the AI is just this side of mentally dysfunctional. On your team, medics will occasionally throw med packs at you to heal you, and soldiers will mostly run tanks and ATVs in the right direction, but it's so lackluster and hollow that you'll end up doing all the hard work yourself. The most frustrating thing is to attempt to call a medic over to you when you need it because odds are that the medic who is furthest from you will be the one who tries to help out. You'll see them run by you left and right and then pass you by while the guy furthest out tries to hoof it in your direction. Conversely, if you so much as have a scratch, you'll have a dozen medics lobbing health packs at you like it's a water balloon toss. I understand that you wouldn't want to play a battlefield simulator only to have the computer AI take all the glory, but a little effort now and again would be nice.

The enemy AI is equally lopsided. For every guy who goes running around you while missing his shots left and right, there is a guy a football field length away who can kill you with his deadly accurate pistol. It's annoying and unbalanced, to say the least.

As far as shooting goes, I suppose the overzealous autoaim that is on by default is partly to blame. You'll be hard-pressed to move your sights without it automatically latching onto any nearby enemy. You can turn off the feature, but then you'll spend the next 30 minutes trying to calibrate your overly twitchy movements. There is no happy medium. You either autoaim, or you move your camera like an over-caffeinated monkey.

Speaking of caffeine, ET: QW is on a seriously high dose. Have you ever played Call of Duty or Rainbow Six? Those games are rooted firmly in real physics and move accordingly. Unreal Tournament has mostly real physics with a little added boost. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, however, is fully caffeinated, diesel-fueled hyperactivity. Simply "walking" from one waypoint to another is akin to watching a cheetah chase down its prey. The whole game seems unnaturally fast, and not in a good way.

Also in the lacking department is the audio. Even when sitting in the middle of 5.1 audio, the explosions seemed lacking, and the gunfire sounded a few generations old. In a game with nearly nothing but explosions and gunfire, I would've hoped for something that sounded a bit more solid.

Let me tell you about the maps. The first one is gray with some green, there is this other one that is green with some gray, and there's that other one that has some tan in it. Seriously, ET: QW is drab and washed-out. If you think that the environments and textures are so lifeless in order to highlight the brilliant character models, you would be sorely mistaken. Even up-close, the enemies look blotchy. I guess when you're moving at the speed of a cheetah, it doesn't really matter what the enemies look like. Just hack the computer, capture the waypoint, blast those doors open, and shoot the bad guys.

To be honest, Enemy Territories: Quake Wars is really only designed for one thing: multiplayer. I wish I could say that that would be the one shiny aspect of this otherwise flawed gem, but even then, there are some frame rate issues whenever there is a cluster of people in an area. There also really isn't anything to expand on in terms of multiplayer gameplay. The good guys are on this side of the line drawn in the sand, and the bad guys are on that side. Each tries to take the other's side. That's it.

Maybe it is my age and my happy memories of a heavily polygonal original Quake that has Enemy Territories: Quake Wars leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. This title could've had any name, and you'd never have known that it was related to Quake in any way. With franchises such as Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, and, of course Halo, Enemy Territories: Quake Wars falls way behind of the pack. There is nothing done here that hasn't been done by another title, and in most cases, the other game has done it better.

Score: 6.0/ 10


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