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PC Preview - 'Quake IV'

by Matt Mefford on Aug. 15, 2005 @ 1:36 a.m. PDT

In Quake 4 the Strogg are quickly regrouping, however the Strogg’s planetary defenses still destroyed, Earth's forces can deliver a full and final assault. This time, you're not alone. You are Matthew Kane, an elite member of Rhino Squad, and part of Earth’s next invasion wave. An army of soldiers are fighting with you and an arsenal of weapons and vehicles are at your disposal in this heroic and epic battle between worlds.

Genre: FPS
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Release Date: Q4 2005

Location - Dallas, Texas
Time - Our Future

Long shadows claw desperately away from your dusty combat boots, fueled by the relentless sun of a late Texas afternoon. Shading your eyes against the glare, you squint for the thousandth time at the line of soldiers ahead of you. It stretches on endlessly across the rubble, disappearing at last into the cool shadows of a troop carrier. Soon you’ll walk up the ramp into the ship, climb into your one-man cocoon, tear through the interplanetary gateway, and smash down light-years away from the blowing sand and blasted ruins that surround the Dallas-Metro crater.

“What the hell is taking so long?!” you snarl, slamming the battered barrel of your side arm, the blaster, against your scarred palm. “I’ve waited long enough. Time to kick some Strogg ass…”
--The Nameless Soldier
(Excerpt from the Quake 2 Manual)

Location - Dallas, Texas
Time - Today

The sweltering heat of a Dallas sun beats down upon the masses…masses lined up not for war, but for Quake 4. Exiting the plane, I survey my surroundings to confirm that Dallas-Metro is still here, and not a Strogg crater…at least not yet. On the verge of the 10th anniversary of QuakeCon, I, like so many others make the pilgrimage to Dallas. In 2001, Quake 4 was first announced on these “hallowed” grounds. Today, we come to see it unveiled.

At this year’s E3, the buzz around the Activision booth was Quake 4. Up until then, all that the press had been shown were screenshots and scant details on the Strogg “Nexus”. We had to rely on our previous knowledge of Doom 3 to predict what it would be like. All predictions, for me at least, went out the window when I got my first hands-on glimpse. Behind closed doors, I bared witness to what can only be termed the “Stroggification of Matthew Kane”. You, playing the role of a Marine Corporal, are captured by the Strogg and strapped down to an assembly line. You are sliced and diced, and a “loyalty chip” is implanted in your head. In a matter of minutes, you are upgraded with cyborg parts that would make The Borg green with envy. Thus, we now we have the particulars of Quake 4: you will play a marine…this time with a name, rank, and a mysterious past. You will fight alongside intelligent AI squadmates, some of whom despise you. You will fight the Strogg, as you did in Quake 2. In a dramatic twist, however, you will also become one of them. Who better to fight the enemy than one of their own…?

Singleplayer – To Fight The Enemy…

As most of you already know, Quake 4 picks up right where Quake 2 left off. Your nameless counterpart from Q2 has just taken out the Big Gun, which defends Stroggos from orbital bombardment, and the menacing Strogg leader, The Macron. Now playing as Corporal Kane, you land on Stroggos under heavy bombardment. The Strogg, it would appear, are not as defenseless as you were first told. Yes, the Macron is dead. Yes the Big Gun is destroyed, but the Strogg still have soldiers and defenses aplenty. Not to mention, a centralized brain known as the “Nexus” running the show from an underground fortress…

Say “Hello” to the Bad Guys -- Quake 4 will come to be known as the return to the most successful chapter in the Quake franchise. Even years later, many gaming enthusiasts, myself included, speak of Quake 2 in the same sentence as seminal titles like Deus Ex and the original Half-Life. A new Quake title, with more of the Strogg, is akin to a Trek fan getting a sequel with The Borg – you just can’t get enough. Let’s face it, we all love a truly evil bad guy!

What’s in a name -- This time around, you embark on your Strogg frag-fest not as a nameless marine, but as a man with a name and a reputation. This time, you play as Matthew Kane. Your squadmates now identify you BY NAME and not just the generic “listen marine…” as they did in Doom 3. Now that your character has an identity, your allies will perceive you differently. Some are your friends, while others are not. Some will trust you to the bitter end, Strogg implants or not. Others will deem you worthy of execution. Grim? You bet. Realistic? Most definitely.

Vehicular Homicide – No longer limited to bi-pedal mayhem, you now have two vehicles from which to dole out military-style justice on the Strogg: The Walker, and The Hovertank. With the level design now reflecting open areas for combat, vehicles are a perfect fit. For QuakeCon, the id team has added a Walker sequence to the demo. With missiles (of the “dumb fire” variety) and a heavy-machine gun, you slowly advance on Strogg defense points while blasting any and all resistance.

Strogg “Goodies” – Despite the fact that some in your squad will now deem you the Enemy, your “stroggified” status does have technical merits. Your HUD will be radically changed, giving the look of the game a noticeably different feel from when you first start. You now also have the ability to receive and decode Strogg intelligence, making you a valuable asset even to those who would rather see you dead.

Multiplayer - Welcome Back To The Arena...

All the best elements of Quake 3 and Team Arena are back by popular demand (emphasis on demand – The Quake MP community would be up in arms if all the old favorites weren’t back). Rocket jumping will be the rule of the day. The Nail Gun will make its triumphant return. The physics in multiplayer will actually make a break from the realism found in singleplayer. Quake 3-style physics and gameplay will be back…and then some. For those who have never played Q3, get ready for fast, intense action with heavy use of jump pads.

None of the singleplayer vehicles will be available online. Although some may not be happy with this decision, a design choice had to be made. The Hovertank and Walker would have required heavy consideration in terms of map placement and weapon balance. In all likelihood, a number of the weapons would have to be modified to counter the sheer power of vehicles in MP. This, in turn, could drastically alter what many know as the “Quake” experience. Jump pads (ala Quake 3) will be used to advance the player across the map.

Speaking of weapons, all the old favorites are back with a vengeance. The Rocket Launcher, Blaster, and Hyper-Blaster will make their presence known. You can also bet that Quad Damage will be back for that extra punch! The BFG is not official…yet…but it is VERY LIKELY. In an interview with IGN, Todd Hollenshead stated “We do like our super-weapons at id and Raven likes them, too.” Cryptic, perhaps, but you know that if the BFG didn’t make it into the final product, there would be much fan uproar. What’s more, there is a “Super-Secret” weapon which is a tightly-held secret. What is it? We shall soon see. Given id’s penchant for making WMDs like the BFG, I’m willing to bet good money this weapon will pack a MEAN F***ING punch!

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