Developer: Raven Software
Release Date: TBA
I can honestly say that I won’t forget Quake IV anytime soon. The FPS has reached new heights of deliberate immersion lately; games like Breakdown have placed us behind the eyes of people who are, for example, puking, throwing punches, or doing a backflip.
In Quake IV, among many other things, you get to see the world from the perspective of someone who’s being forcibly converted into a cyborg. This process involves, among other things, a giant needle being thrust directly into “your” face.
So yeah. That’ll stay with me for a while.
Quake IV returns the player to the planet Stroggos, the setting for 1997’s Quake II. In that game, you were one of a squad of Marines loaded up and shot at the surface of Stroggos, in a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of a losing war between Earth and the half-machine Strogg. In the end, your lone Marine somehow managed to overcome the Strogg’s armies and dispatch their supreme leader.
In Quake IV, we find out that while losing their leader didn’t exactly do the Strogg any good, it wasn’t the final blow that Earth had been hoping for, either. The war continues.
For the first time ever in a game from id Software, Quake IV’s main character has a name and a personality: Corporal Matthew Kane, a living legend in the Marine Corps. You’re also not alone, as Kane’s a member of the Marines’ Rhino Squad. Past id shooters have forced you to take on impossible odds all by yourself; in this, you and your AI-driven squad will rely upon each other to survive.
The same goes for the Strogg, which’ve never looked nastier. Quake IV runs on a modified Doom III engine – yes, there are flashlights attached to most of your weapons; yes, you usually can see what you’re doing – and it uses that extra power to create some truly disgusting-looking enemies. Soldiers and Grunts will attack you en masse, meeting you with squad tactics of their own, while Berserkers will go crazy and rush into the thick of the battle.
A lot of attention’s been paid to Quake IV’s singleplayer campaign, and it shows. There’s a lot of really intense action, with plenty happening in the background and lots of smaller side quests to find and accomplish. Kane can commandeer vehicles, climb into suits of power armor, and wield an arsenal of classic Quake weapons like the nailgun, machine gun, shotgun, railgun, and rocket launcher. Every weapon in Quake IV can also be modded for greater carnage; for example, you can modify the railgun so its slugs bounce off walls, or adjust the rocket launcher to fire guided missiles.
The big twist in Quake IV, however, is part of what I mentioned above. At one point, Kane is captured by the Strogg and modified into one of their cyborg soldiers. However, thanks to Rhino Squad, Kane’s allowed to retain his free will. This’ll let you run faster, take more damage, tap into the Strogg’s computers, read their language, and, most importantly, wield their weapons.
Of course, the game also ships with a heavy emphasis on multiplayer. While there’s no online co-op (dammit), the multiplayer mode is an optimized version of Quake III Arena, set up to run on the new engine. Game modes will include the usual suspects: Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and the variants thereof.
Quake IV, like most id products, will be done when it’s done. It’s currently being developed simultaneously for the PC and the Xbox 360; in the case of the former version, it’ll require a rig that runs “a little bit faster” than what you’d need for Doom III.
That’s about all the information we’ve got handy on the game, as id and Activision are keeping their mouths shut on the subject. At this point, though, I’ve made up my mind; Quake IV is a sequel to my favorite FPS of all time, and it’s another FPS from id Software. I don’t really need to hear much else to know I want to play this thing.