Enemy Territory: Quake Wars PC Review
There have been a lot of great multiplayer shooters on the PC, but few had the complete package like Enemy Territory did. It was fast paced,
it was objective driven, it was team oriented, it was based on World War II, it was a free standalone game, and it had a flamethrower - what
more could you ask for? Even to this very day despite its dated feel I'd happily fire up a game of ET and be occupied for hours. Thanks to Splash
Damage, id Software and Activision, fans of ET
can finally bring their favourite brand of MP FPS
action onto the modern stage as Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is now out and about worldwide for the PC, and the online shooting genre
has never been more fun.
While the original release was most commonly known as 'ET', the actual full name goes by Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory because the game
was an extension to the Return to Castle Wolfenstein FPS shooter - a free standalone 'mod' if you will. Obviously Activision saw the huge potential
that ET offered their publishing label with its large take up in the online FPS communities across the world and decided that expanding the
series to a commercial status was worth a shot, and
this is where Enemy Territory: Quake Wars comes in. Like the original ET was based around RTCW scenery, weapons and storyline, Quake Wars is
based around the world of Quake in many of the same ways, although don't fret, as Splash Damage have made sure that fans of the original ET
should have no trouble picking up where they left off when playing Quake Wars.
As any avid fan of the Quake series would know, the series itself has not been consistent over the years and doesn't always continue the exact same
storyline or even gameplay style from version to version, so it is worth noting that Quake Wars is an extension to the storyline we saw in Quake
II, which consists of an alien race known as the 'Strogg' and their desire to conquer the Human race on earth, although not without resistance. The
Humans are represented on the battlefield by
a global defense force known as the, er, Global
Defence Force (despite the odd lack of accents beyond American), and this Strogg vs GDF conflict across various locations on Earth forms the entire premise
of the game.
But lets not play into the storyline or premise too much, as Quake Wars is really all about the gameplay. There is no single player story mode on
offer here (although there is the ability to play offline with bots), this is all about team vs team objective based combat with a heavy emphasis on
teamwork. Like the original ET, Quake Wars isn't just about racking up kills - in fact there is no kill count viewable during gameplay at all.
This game is about completing the game's objectives both
primary and secondary, which can range from defending a certain target, to carrying a data disc to a comm center, and killing whoever may get in your
way. How you go about tackling the objectives will depend on a few factors, but easily the most important factor comes in the form of
your chosen class.
Much like the original ET, Quake Wars revolves around the presence of five major classes - the front line grunt, the medic, the engineer, the
long range weapons expert, and the covert specialist - all of which are represented on both the Strogg and Human sides, albeit with different names. Even
though all classes come equipped with enough basic weaponry to foster traditional deathmatch style MP shooting gameplay, the class that you choose on any
given map is basically going to dictate how you operate,
so it is definitely in your best interest to try and play to the strengths of your class as each and every one of them can be quite potent in their own
way on the battlefield.
For example, if you choose the 'Field Ops' or 'Oppressor' class, you're going to want to take advantage of the fact you can build long range artillery
weaponry which you can then later direct to more or less any part of the battlefield for bombardment. If you chose to be a 'Medic' or a
'Technician', then you'll want to make sure you're actively looking to re-supply friendly players with more health packs as well as tend to as many fallen
comrades as possible. If you're an 'Engineer' or a 'Constructor', then
you'll want to make sure any friendly deployable units are kept in tip top shape as well as build turret deployable's of your own. Now, this all sounds fine
and well, but how does the Quake Wars make gamers want to do these niche things when the inclination may be to just pull out your main weapon and
treat the game like Quake 3: Arena?
Simple - by integrating the objectives to cater for each and every class on the battlefield, and by connecting these objectives with an 'XP' system.
Every time you complete an objective in this game you are granted 'XP', and the best part about this is these objectives aren't always primary 'win or lose'
type things - some of them are as simple as taking out an enemy turret or deployable that someone on the opposing team just built. Better still, your current
objective can be chosen by yourself from a
list at the top left of your screen by pressing the 'M' key, and your chosen class can influence which missions are available to choose from, which is a
great mechanism as it makes sure that objectives are spread across all players on a team more evenly. How you actually tackle an objective is naturally
down to your chosen class, and this is where the game's awesome class variation and sturdy team based framework meet.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars PC Review
Of course, gaining 'XP' wouldn't be much of a
big deal if it was just a meaningless number, so Splash Damage made sure to build on the original ET's system of granting upgrades to players based on XP,
although this time around there definitely seem to be more on offer, or at least more important upgrades on offer. For instance, you can gain more accurate
weapons and even a scope, increased running speed, more health, and other class related enhancements such as lower build times and quicker target
times. It was very important if not down right vital that 'XP' mattered in this game and Splash Damage have done a grand job of making this so, as these
upgrades truly come through on the battlefield. For example, the second you gain a scope for your Assault Rifle as a GDF Field Ops, you're basically capable
of changing the tide of a fight from well behind the front lines. These XP upgrades and your XP number itself doesn't stick with your online account
(although there is stat tracking), but it does
span across an entire 'campaigns', four of which exist by default, each featuring three unique maps, which by the way are all nicely designed and well
stocked with useful buildings and terrain, not to mention plenty of vehicles and air craft to drive or fly around in, such as the 'Titan' tank and
'Anansi' Helicopter for the GDF, or the imposing 'Cyclops' mech-warrior like machine and personal 'Icarus' jet packs for the Strogg.
With all these options going on at once, it's no wonder that this classic ET gameplay is so damn fun. Even though you're likely only out to enhance your
own XP so you have a better chance of killing other gamers, this selfishness as a whole across all gamers comes together in a team sense almost flawlessly,
and even though the maps are quite large and the
player limit per server quite small (24), it's very rare to see more than one battle going at any given time, meaning just about everyone playing any
given map will be in the same general location fighting over the same goal. The result is pure mayhem where, at times, you can expect to die,
re-spawn and kill maybe 10 times for each respectively in a span of 2 minutes. But then it all comes back to your class - you may hardly die
at all pointing our bombardment targets from a distance, or as a sniper perched on an obscure hill, or as a Strogg 'Infiltrator' as you deploy your deadly
flying drone from a safe location and detonate it amongst
an unsuspecting group of GDF engineers fixing their MCP. This control to do what you want isn't meant to also allow for such team oriented gameplay, but
somehow Quake Wars pulls it off perfectly, offering so much variation and possibilities while at the same time maintaining balance amongst classes and
both factions. The end result is quite simply multiplayer gameplay that can't be faulted, it is just that fun and that well done.
Unfortunately though, the system isn't perfect. The trade off here with all this carefully crafted team based gameplay is that Quake Wars is
not exactly the most user friendly online shooter out there. There is nothing more simple than a basic deathmatch online shooter, so when you start to
introduce the more complex notions of teamwork, objectives and classes, that's when you also start to introduce somewhat of a learning
curve. I must admit at first, when I started playing the demo some weeks
ago, the amount of action and information being processed in-game was a little overwhelming, not to mention the initial confusion of understanding the
responsibilities of each class which can change depending on the map. Quake Wars is a game that will take a fair bit of experience and
experimenting to become accustomed to where you will often learn things the hard way. With this in mind, some people may be put off which could limit
the amount of gamers online at times. This is fantastic
for those wanting to take the game seriously because it means you're more likely to play against other serious and experienced gamers who know what they're
doing but, in a way, it might make Quake Wars somewhat of a niche title compared to other online shooters, just like the original ET
And this is really the only significant point you can make against Quake Wars - it is exceptionally similar to the original ET. Obviously the
graphics (which looks great by the way) have been updated moving to the newest Carmack created engine, and obviously the shift of focus to Quake
themed gameplay has added some new weapons and capabilities such as vehicles and expanded deployable's, but ultimately the gameplay has remained
much the same. This is not a negative in itself because the
original ET was a great game, but if you gave the original ET a go and it didn't take your fancy, you'll probably have the same reaction here. On one hand
this somewhat conservative approach may limit ET: QW's ability to attract new attention to the series, but I tend to believe the simple fact this is
now a commercial mainstream PC title and not a free download hidden in some file archive will help to attract the attention it deserves. The
Quake angle offers enough fresh content to separate
this game from the original enough that a purchase from ET fans is warranted, but at the same time it retains the same feel and balance that made ET so
popular. If you loved the original ET or just want some extremely fun and addictive MP FPS fun with quite a lot of depth and detail, you simply can't go
wrong with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, it truly is a multiplayer master piece that will remain in the upper echelon of online PC shooters for many
years to come. It's just uncanny how awesomely fun this
game can and almost always manages to be.
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