Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
The recipe: you take one of the biggest franchises in the gaming world, you combine that with one of the most surprising multiplayer games ever to be released for free, and soup things up with all kinds of stats and achievements that make you wonder whether you’re playing on Xbox Live. The result: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. But how does it taste?
First let’s start with some historical info. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is the spiritual successor of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and is somewhat of a combination of that game along with Quake 4. Where the latter was primarily focused on the single player experience, ET:QW is pure multiplayer fun, nothing more, nothing less.
The setting is during the first Strogg invasion on Earth about six years into the future of our current time but since there’s no single player I won’t bother you anymore with plots and such. After all, all you want to know is what you can expect and how the game plays, no?
You can play as a Strogg or as part of the GDF but either way there are plenty of options to choose from. Several classes are present with their own (dis)advantages as well as weapons and even deployables. You read that right, deployables. Radars, anti vehicle turrets, anti personnel turrets, air cannons and such are all present and at your disposal and if you want you can even call in an air strike to help out a bit. Depending on your class of course, a Covert Ops for instance will be able to deploy a radar but no turrets.
The weaponry won’t come as a surprise as they’re standard Quake arms and veterans of the series will certainly feel familiar with things like the Railgun, Nailgun, Hyperblaster and such. The human weapons aren’t very exotic as we’re not that far into the future but I doubt anyone will mind that. Shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenades, … all the standard equipment is present and does its job as it should. The biggest difference between Strogg and human weaponry is that the aliens have energy weapons that don’t need “reloading” but will have to recharge to be of full effect. The railgun is one of the best examples: your first shot is the strongest and if you don’t wait until the energy meter is filled white again your next ones will have less impact. Of course that doesn’t mean that hitting someone in the head won’t give you an instant kill, but other parts of the body (or vehicles for that matter) will receive less damage.
Since a couple of years vehicles have made their way into multiplayer games so those can’t be left out either. Tanks, buggies, bikes, helicopters… are all available but compared to when I played the game in London the Strogg vehicles have lost some power and aren’t as strong anymore. To give you an idea: when playing the beta, going against a GDF tank was no problem with a Strogg Desecrator but if you do that now you better watch what you’re doing as you’ll be dead before you know it. Also killing foot soldiers with a tank has gotten more difficult so vehicles have less of an advantage than they had (which is a good thing for balance)
Talking about balance: the most played mode is Campaign (3 maps in a row with multiple team objectives per map) and the maps that are present are reasonably well-balanced. Personally I found that several environments have a slight advantage for one side or the other, but after playing for almost 20 hours I do have to say that with a decent team you can win any objective, no matter which side is easier to play on. Clans will also be happy to know that the maps in Campaign mode are decently combined so that neither side will have an obvious advantage.
As said, the maps have multiple team objectives but next to that there are also personal objectives. So it can happen that more than half of your team is defending a barricade for instance while you’re supposed to be hacking a deployable turret or liberating a spawn point. This makes the gameplay quite interesting as you can choose to go for the overall team objective or decide to play for your own stats. Either way, there are experience points to be won and depending on which mission you choose to do you’ll gain more or less. Of course some people might argue that on ranked servers people will focus most on getting personal objectives completed and earning points but in practise you won’t experience a real problem due to this.
When you’re done playing, the fun can continue with checking your progress and skill. Your actions get transformed into stats (when playing on ranked servers) and there’s an entire website that shows you just about anything you want. There are rankings on kills, deaths, accuracy, … you can obtain achievements, there are rewards that can be received by doing certain actions in-game, you can see your progress in tons of areas and so on. You can even compare yourself to your friends as well as the best players in the world. It’s really like Xbox Live but on PC.
To enhance the community feeling in-game, you can start up your own (registered) clan and manage it as well as make a friends list so you can see who’s online and where they are playing. All quite fun and makes playing together a lot easier.
Technically, ET:QW is a pretty decent game. By now there are games that have better graphics, but if you compare the shear speed and perfection of detail (as well as absence of all too annoying bugs) with other titles you’ll have to admit that Splash Damage did an excellent job with this one. Quake Wars plays fast, really fast, and you don’t even need to have a 10.000 euro system to be able to enjoy it in all its glory. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me but not really shocking seeing that we already reported in our preview that the MegaPixel technology did an excellent job on that part. Also the sound is decent and you’ll have no problem identifying where your team members as well as the hostiles are. Voices and effects are as they should but that probably won’t surprise anyone.
I haven’t mentioned many negative points and that’s with reason: there aren’t that many. In fact, there’s only one thing that really bothers me about this game and that’s the server browser. For a multiplayer-only title this one is really way too simple. Not that you don’t find what you’re looking for, but even Call of Duty 2 managed to have more options. And that, dear reader, was a single player game with a multiplayer component…
Another thing I’ve noticed quite often already is the fact that even seconds after refreshing, you can try to join a server to find out it’s offline. This may happen now and then, but it’s not something you would expect on a regular basis from ranked servers, let alone from major server farms like ID3.net, Jolt or 4Netplayers. A server doesn’t get found, then suddenly appears to be offline for a couple of seconds and then out of the blue “reappears” with the next refresh seconds later? Fishy!
I could go on and on and tell you about every little detail that’s present in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars but in the end the only thing you need to know is whether this game is fun to play and worth your money. The answer to that is plain and simple: yes!
In the introduction I started with a recipe and raised the question how it tastes. Well, just imagine Quake combined with the multiplayer of Enemy Territory added with reasonable low system requirements and a whole experience/achievements system that makes you think of Xbox Live and the taste you’ll get is that of a steak béarnaise for the price of a cheeseburger.