“The most anticipated game of the year! Pilot over twenty five different vehicles in your fight to save mankind from an alien threat! Revolutionary new multiplayer with up to 500 players on a server! Stunning graphics that will melt your monitor!”
How many times have you seen statements like these plastered across magazine adds and game boxes? It seems the more developers and publisher’s marketing teams try to distinguish themselves with new features and claims, the more most titles end up looking like pathetic imitations of the great games of yesteryear. This is especially true of the bloated FPS genre where most recent attempts at innovation have done little to improve the basic gameplay experience.
But now we are actually nearing the release of one of the most anticipated titles of this year, Quake 4. It’s the long awaited sequel to one of the progenitors of the FPS genre and many gamers are wondering what insane new features have been concocted up to differentiate the game and compel us to reach into our wallets. None really. And after my recent time with it – that’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, Quake 4 does have a dropship full of exciting elements, but they have decided to focus on what makes the core of a game fun, rather than flashy.
Besides, they just finished pushing out the graphically impressive Doom 3 engine, so it could be said that they already had “flashy” taken care of. All the technical and graphical power that made everyone “ooh” and “ahh” in Doom 3 are still present. You’ll see the heat shimmer from burning wreckage distorting the air of exploded vehicles, computer console panels will look alive, and the particle effects will have you wiping your eyes from the smoke. But what you’ll also see is a game that has expended far beyond what many called “the tech demo” that was Doom 3.
Recently I was invited to spend a few memorable hours in the tortured universe of Quake. Activision assembled a few gaming journalists together in front of some high end PCs and gave them just two directives – have fun and raise your hand when you finish a level. With the game still being worked on, they wanted to make sure we didn’t explore into any top secret areas.
But they did start us off at the beginning which established the setting for the whole single player campaign and started out in typical ghoulish id fashion. Gazing into the vastness of space a player’s view quickly becomes cluttered with space debris including the dismembered limbs and battle ravaged torsos of mechanically-enhanced humanoids. Then, straight out of a space opera, countless space vessels crowd your vision. Cut to a ships interior and you are now privy to an officer gruffly motivating his men. You hear of the prior events that have your unit, Rhino Squad, here orbiting the planet Stroggos. Veterans of the Quake series will immediately recognize the short exposition’s recap of Quake II’s plot.