Quake 4 Review

Whether you enjoy Quake 4 or not will depend a lot on what kind of gamer you are. If you prefer old-style shooters filled with corridors in which you fill countless charging enemies full of lead, then you’re in luck. If you’re from the new school that prefers deep storylines, smart enemies, and open environments, then you might not find Quake 4 to your liking. Quake 4 may feature advanced graphics, cutting edge lighting effects, and an impressive physics engine, but at its heart it’s a shooter straight out of the late 1990s.

A Strogg warrior.
The Quake games have always had a bit of a dual personality – DOOM-style action on the single player side and fast-paced fragfests on the multiplayer side (OK, so Quake III Arena didn’t have single player play, just work with me here). Playing the single player campaign in Quake 4 feels like an entirely different experience than the multiplayer play. You may find yourself liking one but not the other, and some of you will enjoy both the single and multiplayer action. For me it’s like reviewing two games at once, so I’m going to start by looking at the single player campaign.

Quake 4’s story picks up where Quake II left off (remember what I said about Quake III?). The omnipresent nameless space marine of Quake II has recently killed Makron, the leader of the alien Strogg, and this fortuitous turn of events has paved the way for the invasion of the Strogg homeworld. (In case you’re new to the Quake universe, the Strogg are a nasty race of ill-tempered, demon-like aliens who just need to be killed by humankind.) You are a part of this invasion in the form of one Matthew Kane, a marine newly assigned to his squad. Apparently you have a mysterious background and quite the reputation, as evidenced by the fact that everyone you run into in the game seems to know quite a bit more about you than you do yourself. Anyway, your Aliens style dropship survives the planet’s Starship Troopers style planetary defenses only to be brought down by a guided missile as it enters the atmosphere. After an indeterminate amount of tine spent unconscious, you find yourself in the midst of a heated battle and in search of the rest of your squad…

The campaign is pretty linear and tightly constrained – you’re kept on your pre-designated path with no leeway to stray or wander. You know the drill, lots of locked doors and corridors, that sort of thing. There are a lot of surprise attacks by Strogg as they break through walls, drop from the ceiling, or lurk behind closed doors. If you played DOOM 3, things will look oddly familiar at times; a sense of deja doom pervades the game, if you will. Well, except that Quake 4 mounts its flashlight on your gun barrel so you can actually see and shoot at the same time. Also, where DOOM 3 left you to fend for yourself, Quake 4 often has you fighting alongside allies. The AI-controlled allies are pretty competent, especially since their primary job is to supplement your firepower. In a cool touch, some of these allies that you’ll encounter are specialists, so if you come across a medic you can ask him for some healing.