Quake IV
Reviewed by Eva Cekanska
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-12-19 PC FPS M (Mature) Activision / Raven Software

I can honestly say that I am nothing short of a devout fan of the first person shooter genre. While I have been gaming since childhood, my family slowly stopped supplying me with games somewhere around the release of the N64. My brother and I were devastated, yes, and thus in our obviously traumatized state we turned to downloading to fill our increasing hunger for video games. Pardon the over dramatics, my point is, the very first games we successfully downloaded onto our sub par PC were Doom and Quake respectively. Of course that led to further traumatizing at the hands of the Quake baddies, but I soon discovered god mode and took to shooters like salt to a peanut. So as you can imagine, not only have I been sincerely looking forward to the release of Quake IV but while playing it, I thoroughly considered every aspect of this game so I hope this review will answer any and all of the questions you may have about the title.

Its important to note that although there have been a total of four games in the Quake series now, Q4 follows the storyline established by the second game. Which really is the only way this could have worked, as the original Quake was basically a version of Doom and Quake 3 Arena was a multiplayer game which revolved around a tournament with fighters from different eras... Ok, so the logistics weren't all there, but it was fun. Q4 on the other hand, throws you right back in the mix with the single-minded Strogg as your enemy. You'll recall them from the second game in which you thought you destroyed their means of survival, which you of course failed to do. For shame! Thankfully it means Earth is relaunching its attack on the Strogg, and you get to take part in the ensuing bloodbath (and a bath of blood it is).

Now I must admit, I didn't start out enjoying this game. Do read on though, because I grew to love it, and it turns out first impressions are often misleading. You begin as the marine named Matthew Kane; you're the new guy and on your first mission you're basically sent down to the surface of Stroggos to win the war. You do have the help of the Rhino Squad, and as far as friendly squad mates go, they're not useless. They have a surprising amount of endurance and they're capable of taking the Strogg down. Of course they aren't invincible, as you'll quickly learn while protecting various individuals on your missions. You'll also run into your little friends as they make their way through Strogg territory, and if you don't have to take them anywhere in particular, their deaths will have no consequence to you. Except for the guilt, which will haunt you till the end of time, because you could have saved them, damn it!

Alright onto serious matters, why didn't I enjoy myself at first? The answer to that is simple. While your mates are indeed useful they have this bet going on that you will not last a day. Now my personal theory is that everyone is in on this, including the Strogg, because the only other explanation for the way your enemies act would be you having raped and pillaged (and possibly raped again post-pillaging) on your previous mission to their home world. It doesn't matter if there are ten or three members of the Rhino Squad with you, it doesn't even matter if you're hiding behind a crate, the Strogg have it in for Matthew Kane. You're the only one they target! Of course this means considerably less guilt when a member of your squad dies. If they manage to get killed despite the Strogg's obvious hatred for you and everything you stand for, you really can't be blamed.

So evidently, you have rubbed the Strogg the wrong way, perhaps you shouldn't have rubbed them at all, I'm not sure. But nothing, and I mean nothing explains the way you're treated by the guys giving you your missions. You'll find that you're the one running around everywhere, opening every door, shutting down every console, you're the go-to guy. Sure, sounds sweet, you're right in the thick of the action, but lets be serious, how can they justify sending you every single time? There are at least two other guys with you and yet you are the one sent down the dingy hallway which, lets face the grim truth, leads directly to your untimely demise. We're right back to my original theory, in which the harmless bet regarding your survival has generated mad cheddar and now everyone wants you gone-diddly-on.

Since I have that off my chest now, let me go on to talk about what I love. The baddies are very, very bad. They are smart and surprisingly agile considering they appear to be constructed of severed human parts. Additionally, they wield insane weapons that will quite literally blow your mind. Quake 4 will put you against several enemies at once who engage you in their own specific ways. It's hectic and forces you to consider your weapons and your strategy, because while running and shooting is always an option, it's not the best one. Furthermore, your weapons are as numerous as they have been in the previous games, but ammo is scarce and baddies abound. At your disposal are: the blaster, the ever-so-useful machine gun which comes with a flashlight (you'll need one to find the hidden medpacks and armor), shotgun, grenade launcher, hyperblaster, rocket launcher, nail gun, lightning gun and a dark-matter gun. You'll receive upgrades throughout and those will be very useful, but you'll have to find your own way of dealing with the baddies that will inevitably lead to the frequent use of all your guns.

You also get some vehicle time which is extra easy, fun and not so frequent that it gets in the way. The storyline is not particularly elaborated but it will hold your interest.

Although the single player campaign is quite worthwhile, the multiplayer is underwhelming. I won't go into it because there's no need, but the best way to describe it is to say that it's more of the same and not much of a leap when compared with Q3: Arena. There is some fun to be had with Capture the Flag, it's just not up to snuff, so don't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Overall, Quake IV receives my (much coveted) stamp of approval. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is fun. You'll love this if you're into no-nonsense straightforward gunning of the gross baddies with your multiplicity of sweet weapons. The multiplayer is somewhat uninspired, yes, but the single-player campaign is well worth your buck and showcases the stunning Doom 3 engine perfectly.