Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Xbox 360 Review
When you think about consoles and online together, only one thing should really enter your mind, and that is Xbox Live. The service really did justice for the console market; it showed how a dedicated online service could work for a console. There was none of this rubbish that came with the Playstation 2 and oh god, don’t get me started on how awful the GameCube’s online attempt was. All you needed to do was make a Gamertag and then every game that had an online featured would use your Gamertag to ID you in the game. It worked wonders and was taken one step further with the release of the Xbox 360. Other companies decided that Microsoft had the right idea (well Nintendo didn’t think so, god damn those friend codes!) and rightly so because it is still the best online service out there. Even if you hate Microsoft, you really do have to give it to them for kick starting the, what was at the time, lacklustre online console market.
It’s because of how well the online has been shaped on consoles that a lot more developers are creating games that are specifically made for playing over the internet. A few years ago you would only find these types of games on the PC, but now they are coming by the bucket load to infest your TV screen. The latest one to come along is Splash Damage’s Enemy Territory: Quake wars. Nerve Software is the developer who has been given the task to port the game to the Xbox 360, and that’s what they have done; it’s a straight up port with nothing new added. What’s left is a game that actually isn’t as good to play as the PC counterpart.
If you don’t know what the name is tagged in front of Quake Wars, then you’ve probably not heard of Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory; a free PC game that was all based on multiplayer class based team work. It was set during World War 2, with the players taking either the side of the Allies or Axis, doing team based objectives while shooting each other in the head. Quake Wars was the next step in the evolution of the Enemy Territory series. It takes the same concept but applies it to the Quake universe. That means it’s now the GDF taking on the Strogg. If these names mean nothing to you, then don’t worry as the game has no story what so ever. It’s got an introduction that sets the scene of the war, then you’re free to go in and kick alien arse, or human booty if you’re feeling nasty. For people who are fans of Quake, the game is supposedly set before Quake 2, but really you wouldn’t be able to tell if it didn’t say.
To play Quake Wars you need to select one of two sides to play as. The GDF are the good guys, the guys who are doing everything they can to protect Earth from alien invasion (I’m sure our planet has been in this situation time and time again). The Strogg are the alien gits who think they can come down and take over our lovely world. Once you’ve selected a side, you’ve got to select a class. They are five classes to choose between, it doesn’t matter which side you pick because even though they have different names for the classes on each team, you will be doing the same role, just with some different tactics or weapons. The Soldier/Aggressor is the main attacking class, the standard soldier. Field Ops/Oppressors are the backup class, supplying help with ammo and support strikes. Medic/Technician doesn’t really need explaining (they heal stuff!) and I’m sure the Engineer/Constructor class doesn’t need explaining either (they fix stuff!). The last class is the Covert Ops/Infiltrator. These guys are the sneaky sniper dudes who have to get behind enemy lines to hack or spy on the opposition.
Quake Wars tries to make the classes play deeper than other class based multiplayer games on the market. Normally you would take your class and go help other squad members take flags, kill or whatever it is you do in those other games. You’ll also be doing that in Quake Wars, but also available to you are specific objectives that only certain classes will be able to do. For example there might be a shield blocking a way to a generator that needs destroying. The only class that can hack into the shield system are the Covert Ops class. That means if no one is that class then you can’t do the objective. It’s a neat idea because it actually makes those classes distinctive. It adds that touch to the game, so whichever class you choose to be, you feel important because they are jobs you’ll have to do in the game to help your entire team progress with the mission. The game is a lot more objective based than, say, others like Battlefield. It acts as a campaign rather than an all out capture game.
Speaking of campaign, the game includes an offline A.I. bot filled campaign mode. This is essentially the online campaign game setting, offline. When I say campaign, I don’t mean story filled cut-scenes and the like (this game lacks any sort of story remember). The game has four continents, with each location having three maps. Once you start a campaign game setting on one of the continents, you’ll start on the first map of the three. Whoever wins that map keeps the win, then the next map is loaded and the fight continues, and you’ll keep all your stat increases and any other things you’ve gained during the first map. Playing with bots is, like with a lot of multiplayer centric games, a bore fest. They are predictable and quite easy to kill. The only times when they aren’t predictable is when you are trying to get them to help you, instead they go bugger off somewhere else with their own agenda in mind, seems like they should be in a squad known as Bad Company. You’ll only play this single mode if you want achievements as there are a few to gain from playing the offline campaign.
Like I’ve said, this is an online shooter and so it needs to be online, bots can never cut it like us humans can. Now I know I said it was a straight port of the PC version, which it is, but going online reveals that some stuff has actually been removed for the 360 version. If you are a Quake Wars PC veteran, you’ll instantly notice the player limitation in online games. The PC version allowed for up to 32 players to square off at each other. The Xbox 360 version is squished down to half of that. I don’t know why they couldn’t add more players. If games like Frontlines can do it, then surely something could have been done to help add more players to the servers. It makes the game feel less hectic and crowded because the maps are unaltered to fit in with the less players that occupy them.
The rewards you get for levelling up your class is also altered somewhat. If you do well as the class you are playing in the level, you’ll be rewarded with some goodies that upgrade you. You’ll keep these throughout the three map campaign, but will lose them once you move onto the next campaign. In the PC version, you would be able to see what you’d unlocked in the classes and each class had specific unlockables assigned to it, along with some general ones. In the 360 version, it doesn’t allow you to look at what you’ve gained; you’ll see 3 symbols appear on the screen to tell you what you’ve just gained from levelling up that class. It seemed that each class got the same upgrades; also the ones you got from vehicle usage in the PC version don’t even make the cut in the Xbox 360 game.
Stat tracking was a major thing about the PC version. You could login into the Quake Wars website and look at your army rank and stats. There were thousands to look at, each broken down to what class you played with. There’s no website on the 360 version, which I guess is somewhat understandable since not many games on the 360 do the webpage stat collection. Even so the game does keep a good amount of stats, not quite as many as the PC version, but it’s safe to say you can see what army ranking you are, what badges you’ve unlocked and how well you are doing with a certain class. This is done by going to the leaderboards section and finding your Gamertag on the list. It’s nice to see most of them still there as everybody loves random stat information.
Control wise there have been some weird decisions by the development team. You can only cycle one way through your weapons. This means that if you’ve gone past the weapon you want to use, you’ve got to cycle all way through them again, pretty screwed up if someone is popping your arse with their machine gun, it’s same for the tools too. Another one is that the d-pad is used for displaying a larger version of the map, thing is the map doesn’t stay on the screen when you let go. A problem if you are in the heat of battle or want to get somewhere, you’ve got to have bent fingers to run and have the map up at the same time. Loading is somewhat of an issue as well. When you first put the game in to the system, before anything comes up, the game will show a loading screen for around 20 seconds. The levels themselves take even longer to load.
Player count isn’t the only thing to have been reduced in this Xbox 360 port. The graphics have taken a bit of a beating as well. The game uses the Doom 3 engine along with a new feature added in called the MegaTexture technology. The PC version did shine out at points with some pretty lighting effects and some nice looking levels. The same levels are included in the 360 version but have been toned down to make way for a decent frame rate. To get an idea of the graphics, it could be said that all the developer has done is taken the game from the PC and moved the slider from “very high” to “medium” on all of the graphical settings. Everything looks as if it has had the life and soul sucked from it. What you are left with is a game that looks less clear, muddier and duller than the PC version. On a plus side the draw distance seems to be still as far as it was on the PC.
The sound is pretty mediocre as well. Weapons never really seem to have that “UMPH” sound effect, like the weapon is missing that packing a punch sound. Nothing really seems to standout in either graphics or sound in this game. It’s a good job the gameplay is fun enough to divert your attention.
There are probably two types of people who are looking into this game. Group 1 doesn’t really play PC games and are wondering if it is worthwhile to test out Quake Wars. I can say that if you are a huge fan of shooters than Quake Wars might just be worth your time. If you are a fan of fancy graphics then the game won’t do anything for you and you’ll probably be turned away by the ancient look of the game. People who don’t care for graphics will find a game that’s quite fun and somewhat unique in its multiplayer shenanigans. The classes are more complex and objective focus driven then any of the other multiplayer shooters out there.
The other group will be people who have played the PC game, or have a decent gaming PC machine. If you are in this group then it’s easy to tell you that you should stick to the superior PC version. If you’ve not played it on the PC and have a decent machine then it’s a no brainer that you should ignore this one and go find the PC version, which is better, with more players, and also £20+ cheaper.