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Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Review
developer: Splash Damage
PIII 800, 256MB RAM, GeForce 2
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 02, 07 (released)
|» All About Enemy Territory: Quake Wars on ActionTrip|
The great eruption of 'Holiday 2007' game releases began this week with the arrival of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (ET: QW), developed by Splash Damage and id Software and published by Activision. Marrying the excitement and chaos of a First Person Shooter with objective-based goals accomplished through teamwork, ET: QW tops things off by adding dash of class-based rewards and advancements for RPG-like flavor. The trick is in taking all of those elements and creating an addictive team-based shooter. And on most levels the game succeeds but in a few areas, it doesn't fully gel.
We have been following ET: QW for sometime now (you can review the last preview here) and have been looking forward joining the never-ending battle as either Strogg or the Global Defense Force. Each side has evenly matched combat classes and vehicles (with some slight differences to keep things interesting). Apart from running and gunning, player classes on both sides have their unique roles to play during the match; such as the GDF Engineer (or Strogg Constructor), who can deploy turrets, build guard towers or machine gun nests and use their tools to repair damaged vehicles. Each class' special skills are needed at differing points in every mission to advance their team towards victory. In the process of fighting and fulfilling your class objectives you gain points that unlock new weapons and skill boosts (such as faster run speed or faster repair speed). The kicker is these bonuses only last until the end of the current match. Once a new round starts, the slate is wiped clean and everyone starts from zero again. There is an online ranking system that will record player stats when you play on ranked servers, although the ranks don't offer anything more than bragging rights.
Graphically the game is advanced enough to have finally convinced me its time to upgrade my home system. While my AMD 64 3700+ with a GeForce 7800 GTX was enough to get me through most games to this point in time, ET : QW brought my system to a stuttering crawl with its much-modified Doom 3 engine. (That's just great. - Ed) So while I wait for my new system parts to show up, I have been playing on a backup system from work. The game looks and plays well enough on reduced settings and I am looking forward to when my new 8800 SLI system is complete to experience it in all its glory. In the meantime, if you are also running an older system, this might be the time for you to consider an upgrade before the rest of the holiday premier titles hit the market. That being said, going from large, varied outdoor settings to close quartered combat indoors is handled so smoothly by the game engine that you don't even notice the transitions, which is exactly the way it should be.
The maps themselves are huge and vary in terrain and setting including urban, tropical, desert and artic locations. Maps usually feature a combination of indoor settings to slug things out in as well as wide open spaces that allow for vehicular combat (ground and air). Matches can be played on a single map in Objective mode, Stopwatch mode where teams take turns attacking and defending trying to beat each others time and my favorite, Campaign where three maps are played one right after another and you keep any points earned in the previous rounds. From my experience so far, this is the most satisfying mode of play as by the second round players have unlocked more weapons and skills providing for more varied combat. However, the game ships with only 12 maps and while each one has multiple objectives in order to win the round, hardcore players are going to grow weary of the small number very quickly.
Overall, gameplay is fun as you run around fulfilling objectives, piloting differing vehicles and blowing the enemy away with a variety of weapons. The only frustration I have experienced does not apply to ET: QW alone, but to any squad-based shooter. That is if you are on a pick-up team and you find that your allies are a bunch of doorknobs that have no idea how to work together; you are not going to get very far. ET: QW is loaded with prompts that will guide you along as you accomplish the goals for the map and your class. So even a brand-new player will be able to play his class correctly and score points in each round (if he pays attention and can follow instructions). But to really dominate, your team MUST pull together and work as many parts of a well oiled machine. So in reality, the developers should be given credit for allowing the coconscious player a way to enjoy the game even when grouped with a bunch of helmet wearing short bus riders. If you share my frustration, the answer, of course, is to hook up with a clan for a more rewarding team experience.
Since the maps are so large, it is a real drawback to play them with anything less than full teams (8 vs. 8 when playing against bots offline, 16 vs 16 online) makes for a somewhat lonely experience. Having played with both humans and the much touted bot system, I prefer playing with humans (Umm what about that Real Doll you have stashed in the back of your closet? -Ed). For aiming and tactical skill levels, the bots can be customized to perform as if they are total amateurs all the way up to Terminator like perfection. However, since the skill setting applies to all the bots in the match, there is not enough variety in behavior and this skews the experience. The bots are so evenly matched that I was forced to class hop quite often in order to move my team forward from one objective to another. I will reserve final judgment on this one until my usual group of death match comrades gets their own copies of the game and we can try a mixed match of humans and bots to see if it's just me or if they feel the same way.
8.1 Very Good
Easy to get into and play the class and style you prefer, players don't have to be good at shooting to gain points and advance, mission system helps players accomplish map objectives;
Not enough customizability over bot behavior, maps are too big to play with anything less than a full team, some weapon sounds could use more punch, canned voice responses get old quick, taxing hardware requirements.