Anyway, old man rants aside, Quake Wars: Enemy Territory is the latest feather in the Quake empire's hat, and also the series' first gracing to the Playstation 3. Quake Wars was a successful multiplayer FPS on the PC, but as we've seen so many times before, success on one platform doesn't necessarily mean success on another.
After a slick pre-rendered introduction, Quake Wars dumps you on the doorstep of a menu screen with the options to either play a single player (with bots) or multiplayer battle. No story, no tutorial (which oddly enough is present in the Xbox 360 version), and no suggestions of what to do or what this game is about.
Humans versus Strog is the name of the game; the Strog being a humanoid alien being. I don't doubt there's some form of storyline between the two leading to a feud over the last zillion years, but hey - they forgot to include the story... remember? Regardless of the game type you choose, you'll find yourself fighting for either the humans or Strog, who each have their own weapons and abilities. Furthermore you can choose your player class, which matches up similarly with those we've come to expect from similar games, ranging from your heavy weapon-carrying assault class through to spec ops and the spawn-camping sniper.
Remember the aforementioned player classes? This is where they come into play; many of the different objectives of each level have only certain player classes which can perform them. For instance - bridge need repairing? No good getting a medic to do that - that's what the engineers are for. This works fine in principle, but the game is really, and I mean *really* poor in letting you know what to do. Changing objectives flash up as little blips on the mini-map and some sargeant/strog mumbling audio if you're lucky, but it's just too hard to follow. In single-player mode it's even worse because bots being bots end up having a cup of tea in the heat of the battle, or just keeping the driver's seat of a tank warm to stop you from using it.
But wait! In almost a nose-thumbing move by ID, they actually have included the objectives for each level in an easy-to-read and accessible format... in the instruction manual, and it takes up half of it! It's quite bizarre that with 25GB of Blu-Ray space available (and even 50GB if they really deemed it necessary - Dave), they couldn't find anything spare to include the objectives in the game. And I mean... who even reads the instruction manuals these days? Sorry ID, but reading the manual mid-game is something best left to the 8-bit era.
That said, while this is a multiplayer stab at the market of big online FPS battles which were created by Battlefield 1942 back in 2002, why is it that we are only limited to 16 players at a time? How is it that 6 years later with the 'almighty' power of the PS3 we are only scraping together a match with a quarter of the players that BF 1942 could manage to support? I'm sure ID have a reason for this (they're not just doing it out of spite of whining reviewers like myself), but it just feels like the game is a fraction of what it could have been otherwise. One only needs to look at the upcoming M.A.G. with 256 players, or Resistance 2 with 64 players to see what could be done with effort.
Looking at the screenshots, Quake Wars isn't what you'd call a 'bad' looking game. At times there's plenty happening on screen without the frame rate dipping (though it does occasionally have its bad moments), and lighting and shadows are up to par with what you'd expect. And while it's not bad, it's also not 'good', particularly when compared to the PC version. Player model detail is lacking, and while the maps look great at a glance; up close the textures and building/scenery models aren't anything super special.
Aside from the (repetitive) bot voices in-game, there isn't a whole heap more to listen to other than muddy explosions and gunshots. Sadly there isn't much variety in the noises, and while the menu screens have your patriotic GI-Joe style soundtrack, backing music isn't anywhere to be found during game play. Once upon a time big chunky sounds used to be a trademark of the Quake series ("Quad Damage" followed by a bunch of rocket explosions, anyone?), but listening to Quake Wars you'll see that these times have since passed.
Quake Wars is like one of those sitcoms whose heyday has passed, and the old episodes are still great, yet you can't help but wince through the new episodes which are just trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of the franchise. It had potential for a great arcade-y take on games like Battlefield, but has fallen short in enough aspects to make even devoted FPS or even Quake fans think twice before purchasing. Perhaps the E3-announced M.A.G. might be the answer to our prayers for a wide-roaming FPS, or even Killzone 2? At the end of the day ID's efforts can be summed up in the words that you never wanted to hear from the Quake 3 announcer... "HUMILIATION".
Review By: Chris Gobbett