2005 Reviews

Quake 4

  • Review Date: 2010-12
  • Release Date: 2005-10
  • Developer: Raven Software
  • Rating: 9.0

With Quake and Quake 2 being my two favourite games of all time, and will unlikely ever be beaten, it would be hard for me not to have high hopes for Quake 4. It didn't make much difference that id Software had dropped the job into the talented Raven Software's mits. Heretic, Hexen, Soldier of Fortune, Star Trek Voyager and all their sequels; these were all solid, professional and, most importantly, fun games. So Raven taking over the Quake duties is almost as good as id doing it themselves. And as it turned out, Quake 4 felt like a superior game to Doom 3.

While Doom 3 took place almost entirely inside tight futuristic bases, unfortunately Quake 4 didn't try to re-invent the wheel here and is almost exactly the same. The only difference is there are more outdoor areas and the level design is a little better. Everything is easier to see, there's much more variety in design, although it's still only the 'base' style, so expecting Painkiller level of variety will leave disappointed. While there aren't huge awe-inspiring set-pieces, it's all solidly good looking. Sadly, the id Tech 4 engine just doesn't seem capable of doing huge, sprawling areas. So Raven are stuck with a corridor crawl similar to Doom 3.

Having said that there are some big outdoors areas, but they are lacking in detail. The three biggest levels are the vehicle-based ones. And these copped a lot of flack from players suggesting they ruin the game. As it turned out, only 3 in 33 levels are vehicle based, and one of them is only several minutes long. In all, a maximum of 10% of the game would be vehicle based.

While the engine is restricted, the way it does lighting looks fantastic, especially when your team-mates have their flashlights on and they're cast all over the inner depths darkened base. So it's a shame there have been very few games using id Tech 4, just Prey, Quake Wars and Wolfenstein following.

Gameplay in Quake 4 was all solid. The enemies had plenty of variety and all looked fantastic. It's just disappointing that they weren't more closely related to Quake 2. The Berserker, Gunner and a few others were there, but not recognisable from Quake 2. Different attacks, speeds and difficulty means they're basically new enemies. Iron Maiden was a little more obvious, but again apart from being female, could be a completely different enemy. Arguably the more fearsome of Quake 2, the Gladiator, makes a return in Quake 4. But he's quite different; slower with a railgun that seems easier to avoid. So while there weren't many similarities, in some respects and homage aside, it's probably a good thing because the Quake 2 enemies were very basic in their attacks compared to Quake 4. This isn't 1998 anymore.

Most of the weapons make a return. The Machine Gun is much better, there's no Double Shotgun but the Single Shotgun packs enough of a punch to play almost the entire game through just with these two weapons. The Hyper Blaster, now your fourth weapons, is a good switch up as it packs a punch but also has plenty of ammo. Grenade Launcher, Railgun, Lightning Gun are all very similar to Quake 2. The Rocket Launcher is a little faster but requires reloading, meaning I didn't use it much. The new gun is the Nailgun, which is very fast paced but I didn't find it to be particularly effective compared to the Machine Gun/Shotgun combination.

I played on medium difficulty and it was fairly spot on. The first half of the game was fairly easy and it was a long time before I died, but the second half steadily got tougher with some great boss battles to finish the game off.

So overall I really liked Quake 4. It did feel like another Raven game; very similar in level design to their others, but that's a minor criticism because all their games look good. And with id Tech 4, great! While it doesn't live up to the groundbreaking prequels, it's great to have a solid, fun, return to Stroggos. With slightly better level design and much more fast-paced gameplay, I preferred it over Doom 3.