When Quake Wars first launched on the PC in October of 2007 it was met with positive reviews and plenty of fan approval. There was no doubt that Activision would eventually port the game to consoles for the masses, but the question still remained: would anyone care and of course how good would a multi-player specific game fare on a home console. Those answers are finally going to be answered as Quake Wars has now come home thanks to two separate developers; Nerve Software handled the 360 port while Underground Development took the reigns of the PS3 version. What we are getting is a solid multi-player focused shooter that is nicely balanced and a lot of fun to play. Now comes the hard part; with Halo 3 and CoD 4 preceding it and Battlefield: Bad Company on the horizon does Quake Wars have enough to entice gamers out of another sixty bucks?
For those not in the know Quake Wars is your emblematic multi-player focused FPS with two warring factions. You have your GDF (Global Defense Force) which is basically the human side and you have the Strogg, your alien faction hell bent on destroying the humans. Of course with this being an online-focused shooter, story is all but non-existent so don’t expect an epic mythology to unfold during your playtime. The core game is based on objectives that can range from taking out communication devices to more simple tasks such as opening a door to advance your troops. You can obtain spawn points on the battlefield to help move along your progress and the game focuses heavily on team tactics.
In addition to the expected online shenanigans there is also a single-player campaign that works best as a practice ground for the online mode. This campaign is broken down into 12 maps on four continents; each continent contains three missions, thus creating your so-called campaign. While the single-player will allow you to customize yourself with the controls and weapons, it really doesn’t give you the ins and outs of each class. The 360 version at least gives you a three level tutorial to play through, whereas the PS3 gives you a video that basically tells you the game has classes-and they do cool things. The point is that Quake Wars is easily one of the deepest shooters you will come across, the amount of variation between classes is immense and it will take you hours to learn the ins and outs of them all. Unfortunately you will be doing it the hard way as the game fails to give you a grasp on much of anything, which will scare away casual shooter fans.
The best way to come to grips with the class system is to yank out the old instruction manual or go online and read some FAQs about the game. This is easily the biggest selling point of Quake Wars, and patient gamers will come to love its intricacies. Both factions have roughly the same number of classes and while they do differ on the surface they balance each other out nicely. You can also upgrade each class individually with stat boosts that will increase different attributes. There is a hidden stat tracker in there, but you will need to go online to find it and forget about carrying your character between online and off as your stats reset after each campaign when going at it solo, which further stresses the idea that the campaign mode is simply there to give you some practice.
What is really nice about Quake Wars on consoles though is the bots. Not only can you now play with a small group of friends against some wickedly inventive bots, but they are actually not bullet shields like many other console shooters. The bot intelligence found in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is some of the best I have seen in a long time. Granted you will still find the odd occurrence where calling for backup will be useless and other times where a medic is nowhere to be found when you are bleeding out, but on a while they follow orders, complete objectives and generally kick ass. You can also fill out any online game with these bad boys, and on the hard difficulty get a solid challenge.
However the meat and potatoes of Quake Wars comes in the form of online play, and if you have a reliable group of friends this can easily be the best experience you have had in a long time. The beauty behind the game is that it requires you to work as a team. There are no Rambo moments here and playing it like an Unreal will likely frustrate as you will die often and lose religiously. This is both a good and bad thing as finding a reliable team can pose a problem, especially with the mentality usually found on Xbox Live or PSN, but you can probably bet on the fact that most of those guys are playing one of the bigger games. When it works though this game is extremely satisfying, the first time you work together as a team to achieve victory it becomes an addiction. Learning which class best suits you and becoming an asset to your squad is well worth the investment. Unfortunately in this day and age of ADD gaming, Quake Wars will likely need to etch out a niche in the genre.
The last big thing that separates Quake Wars from other me-too shooters are the vehicles. Much like Battlefield there are a plethora of different transportation devices to wield in the game. Controlling them can become a chore, especially the flying vehicles, as they do not control how you would expect them. The repertoire ranges from simple transportation-specific vehicles such as the ATV, which is good for moving from point to point and nothing else, to tanks that can mow through entire squads with ease. They are not indestructible like the ones found in other titles such as Star Wars Battlefront, which is nice because it helps keep the game balanced, something Quake Wars does much better than 90% of other shooters out there.
What hurts Quake Wars more than anything though comes in its comparison with its PC brethren. Coming out so much later you would expect some special new features, extra maps and possibly some new game modes. The sad truth is the console version is easily a step backward from a game that came out last year. The first thing you will notice (if you played the PC original) is how the game has been streamlined for consoles. Weapon selection is a pain, as you only have one button to cycle weapons; the same goes with tools. This makes managing your arsenal on the battlefield cumbersome and more convoluted than it needs to be. Secondly the auto-aim feature is a bit too generous, giving you easy shots on a fast-moving enemy. Turning it off causes the aiming to feel jerky and inaccurate so you are faced with a tough decision of too easy or frustratingly unfair.
The visuals have also taken a hit. While the PS3 version is sharper and more colorful the 360 version sports some nice lighting and texture work. However, both versions pale in comparison to the PC counterpart drastically. Quake Wars was never considered a technical masterpiece to begin with, but it did have some nice texture work, all of which has been toned down drastically for a console release. There are also occasional hiccups in the frame rate (especially online) and some truly atrocious character models that really stick out when compared to other top-tier shooters on the systems.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is the kind of shooter that will garner a cult following and be loved by all who take the time to learn all of what it has to offer. Twitch gamers will likely put this game down before they even learn how to master one class. If you have the patience and a group of friends willing to dedicate to the game’s strengths there is a lot to love here, however if you are just searching for the next mindless shooter Quake Wars is not going to satisfy your needs. Even with all of it’s shortcomings there is enough here to warrant your sixty bucks, that is if you don’t own a gaming PC and have already taken the time to experience this solid team-based shooter.