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Xbox 360












M (Mature)



Q4 2005



- Looks good

- Tight controls for the most part

- A good variety of weapons

- Outdoor combat to mix things up



- Stutters a lot

- Floaty vehicle controls

- Linear approach doesn't offer many surprises


Review: Quake 4 (PC)

Review: Call of Duty 2 (360)

Review: Quake III: Team Arena (PC)



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Quake 4

Score: 7.5 / 10


Something the Quake franchise has always had trouble with is a telling a coherent story to connect the games.  The original Quake was long on action and short on details -- your nameless soldier blasted his way from entrance to exit and that was about it. (I wouldn't even include the brief text at the end of the game that explains what you just did.)  Quake II provided a storyline of sorts (a battle between humanity and the cyborg Strogg) but it too was short on detail or any connection to the original.  Quake III didn't bother with a story at all, instead concentrating wholly on multiplayer death and co-op matches.  Now comes Quake 4 with a whole-hearted attempt at providing a story to accompany the action by picking up where Quake II left off.


quake 4          quake 4


Humanity's battle against the Strogg -- a more grotesque version of Star Trek's Borg -- is going well.  Humanity has managed to make an organized assault on the Strogg homeworld.  Indeed, apart from the horrible crash landing you and your Rhino squadmates suffer as the game opens, everything is just peachy.  That is until you're captured by the Strogg and "modified" somewhat.  From there it's not only a battle for survival, it's also an exercise in revenge and humility as your Stroggification puts many ill at ease.  The plot elements are stitched together by the occasional in-game cutscene where a lot of dialogue is spoken and a few movie-like cuts.  It's an admirable shot at a compelling storyline but because the mission objectives are so predictable -- escort tech #1 to a terminal, find a way to open this door, etc. -- the story feels almost unnecessary because at Quake 4's core is (still) blowing away enemies and finding the exit.  While it's not necessarily a bad thing because the action is solid enough to keep you playing for the most part it feels like the story was used as padding to the gameplay.


The included multiplayer also feels a bit like padding, as if it was included because the Quake franchise has always been known for its online fragfests and only for that reason. Find the right bunch of people and it can be enjoyable, otherwise you're not missing much.


The single-player campaign is where it's at.





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The campaign is broken up by indoor and outdoor mission, which let you leap behind the control of some powerful weaponry.  If the controls were a bit tighter for the vehicles I wouldn't have any complaints but as it is they feel a bit "floaty" -- that description is ambiguous, I know particularly when the tank actually does float but the controls don't feel "on."  During the bulk of gameplay (while you're on foot) the control is just fine with a bare minimum of adjustment (turning speed, etc.) required at the start.



Your considerable arsenal includes first-person shooter classics like the shotgun, rocket launcher, and pea shooter.  Quake classics return like the rail gun, hyperblaster, grenade launcher, and the nail gun.  Most of them have some sort of upgrade available for them, which are handed out by various soldiers along the way.  Most provide a satisfying whomp! against the Stroggs, which is a good things because most of their forces have a tendency to run straight at you.  While this does alleviate the need for accuracy it doesn't eliminate it and there are plenty of chances for long range sniping.


quake 4          quake 4


Strangely enough the graphics are a mixed bag of great-looking environments and characters, and some relatively bland textures.  As a supposed next-gen title I was expecting more.  This judgment is also applicable to some of the framerate stuttering during encounters with multiple Strogg units. (On rare occasions it can become annoying and will throw off your aim.)  As you rarely face more than three units at a time, I'm not sure why the engine wasn't tweaked more to suit the 360 hardware.


Quake 4 also comes packed with an extra disc which includes a good amount of bonus material, including the original Quake II, which plays brilliantly.  There is also behind-the-scenes footage and visit to the Quake 4 kiosk at E3 2005.


As one of three first-person shooter launch titles for the 360, Quake 4 doesn't have much competition.  In comparison to Call of Duty 2, Quake 4 doesn't quite meet the same "exceptional" level but it is a solid game with a strong adherence to the conventions of the genre.  It's a must try to Quake and first-person shooter fans but as an outright purchase... rent it first.


- Omni

(December 29, 2005)


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