Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Review

home > PC > Reviews
Graphics: 7.5
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 9.0
Overall : 8
Review by Will Smith
To help with the integrity of this review, it’s only fair I tell you the system on which I run it;

My Rig:
Nvidia 7900GTX
Pentium Core 2 Duo (2x3.4ghz)
19” LG Monitor Widescreen
450W Power Supply

Enemies, in their territories, fighting in the Quake Universe, in a War…not guessed yet? It’s Enemy Territory: Quake Wars! The long awaited (spiritual) sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, developed by Splash Damage in co-operation with I.D Software. Guess what? Its alright, no…it’s good, hang on, let’s make that pretty good…or maybe just OK again…That might be a strange sentence, but this will be pretty much your experience with this game, but, specifically in the graphics department. Despite being able to (supposedly) run this PC on a pretty weak system, due to its native lack of visual quality it is best viewed on a much more powerful system, and even then in HD or on an LCD or TFT screen – simply because the graphics aren’t that good, and even with the latest patch, a powerful system and a good screen – they still have their flaws. Once mounted into the glory of a HD/TFT/LCD monitor with high resolutions, the graphics actually begin to look very clear and crisp and my rig can run this game on high settings at max resolution – and still achieve a wonderful framerate. When running it on my old Standard Definition Monitor, I experienced a lot of screen tearing and even distorted “rays” coming out of objects – the tearing seemed to stop on the HD screen, but the “rays” are still there – at a minimum. The strangest thing is, the majority of graphical glitches such as this are apparent in Multiplayer, I can’t think of any encounters with them in single player. But let’s face it, Half Life 2 (now 3 years old) indeed looks better texture wise than this game.
The character models however, are a sublimely different case – they’re extremely shiny, very well animated, and a pure pleasure to simply look at (sadly, this has to be done when selecting your character, unless you fancy going up to the enemy and saying “Hey, I errr…hate to ask but…. you know before I stick this shotgun up your nose…)! Good things about the graphics include reliable framerates, very pretty outdoor areas and superb modelling.

“Quickies” - The Good

  • Moving objectives focus the action on specific points, making for an overall thrilling series of battles. Compared to say, Battlefield, where the players are spread out capturing various objective points simultaneously.
  • Classes have a good variety of abilities, but still operate at the same skill level – i.e. an engineer can hold his own as well as a soldier or medic can providing a balanced game.
  • Servers are quick to join, the server menu is fast and responsive, and the load times for joining a server are reasonable.
  • Action is fast, and respawn waves are pretty quick most of the time.
  • It’s not exactly Battlefield + Quake = Quake Wars.
  • Bots are intelligent and complete objectives if you wish them to.
  • Doesn’t appear to be full of spammers and idiots…..yet.
  • Vehicles are tough and fun to use – especially the Icarus jetpack.
  • Experience system is very rewarding, and the mission selector helps tell you where to go to get that lovely Exp.
  • Good shooter mechanics, although I’m sometimes left wanting due to lack of variety in weapons.
  • Automatic turrets/artillery adds a new level of depth to the battlefield shooter genre.

The game loads up into the menus very quickly – however, below a fairly decent rig (especially in RAM terms), the map load times can be almost as bad as the (acclaimed) Battlefield series, and I heartily recommend 2GB RAM to get a decent load time out of this game.

Getting stuck into the core gameplay then, what does it have to offer veterans and newbies alike?

For veterans, an objective based campaign/gameplay that really does work – many games have tried this before and ended up lacking, or sacrificed it for the more traditional deathmatch/CTF/King of the Hill modes. This adds a new level of challenge for those who are fed up with the aforementioned classic game modes. Although, the game could well have been much better in itself if it was given the colourful Quake weapons and a good DM/CTF/TDM mode as well as objective modes. Yes, those colourful Quake weapons – the Railgun is now a bright orange streak – the rocket launcher is now a bright orange explosion – all the colours of plasma cannons, saw blades, laser guns and such have all gone and have been replaced by bland orange explosions and beams…time…after time…after time….even the biggest orbital cannon in the goddamn game is bright orange! The same as almost every other bleeding weapon in existence! The only exception to this rule is the Strogg Lightning Pistol, which basically fires a long range, accurate beam of lightning at your foe…and it’s beautifully blue…

“Quickies” - The Bad

  • Servers can sometimes be laggy – but most games suffer with this.
  • Weapon effects are very samey – mostly orange blasts – what happened to the colourful weapons of Quake and UT?

  • Objectives and missions can be quite samey – it’s either escort/destroy the MCP, defend/hack the generator, destroy/defend the door – and so on.
  • Screen tearing and distorted rays at times suggest the graphics aren’t well coded – my PC should be able to run this no problem – as it doesn’t even look quite as good as Half Life 2…..a 3 year old game.
  • No real campaign mode, and even the one in multiplayer is pretty shallow.
  • Graphics appear to be flawed on SD Monitors in my experience, I encountered no problems once I switched to a HD/Widescreen Monitor, and could run perfectly well on “high” settings.
  • Weapons lack weight and feel, kills are satisfying, animations for said kills are not.
  • Can’t get in enemy vehicles – why?!?!
  • Flight controls can’t easily be configured.
  • No VoIP – come on, this is the standard for any shooter these days, and there’s no excuse for it to be missing from a team based one.

Anyway, for newbies to Quake, it provides a shallow yet accessible insight into the Quake universe, a generally fun objective based gameplay mode and competitive action niches in otherwise bland looking levels.

Overall, the core gameplay mechanic is really good, you pick a class – each having its own strengths and weaknesses, yet both having a same (but slightly different) counterpart in the other team, you spawn in, and slaughter your way to the objective.

Along with all this is the experience system – for each objective you complete or enemy you kill, you receive experience points in four categories of performance, which all lead to temporary unlockables. Experience is persistent between maps in campaign matches, but beyond that the experience/medals system is pretty uninspired. It starts with “get 2K aggressor XP and destroy 200 objectives” or something to that effect – to get your first aggressor medal – then that escalates to 6K exp, 12K exp and such forth. This then continues in the same pattern with every class in the game. Once you start getting experience points though, you won’t want to stop, and the game does little to stop that craving, as simply pressing M will cycle your available missions (class dependent in some cases), and detail the experience gain for completing it. So you’re never, ever short of something to aim for on the battlefield. This system of moving objectives creates action pockets, which keep the game flowing – as opposed to say, Battlefield, where people will be split all over capturing different spawn points. The missions also provide something extra for players to fight over, and are often not far from the main objective – you may be a GDF engineer fighting to repair your anti-artillery turrets, but, out of nowhere, a Strogg aggressor who has smelt 2 experience points coming from your general direction pops up out of nowhere and riddles your crotch into Swiss cheese using his hyperblaster. Exhilarating.

At the end of the day, all the classes can hold their own just as well as each other, despite their differences. A medic can easily take down an aggressor, the only difference in their combat abilities is that the aggressor has a bit more HP than the medic, and a few more weapons at his disposal (from which he can only choose one anyway). So don’t worry about the perceptions of medics, engineers and snipers being “weak” – they aren’t. Not in this game.

The vehicles are pretty fun to zoom around in, although you cannot – cannot – mount into an enemy vehicle, (I can only assume this is down to Human-Strogg interfacing mismatches, as I can’t see any other justification for this blatant miscarriage of the idea of fun). For example, the Cyclops is a fantastically huge walker with two modes of fire – Walker, and Siege. Walker mode is simply mobile, but with slowly charging plasma cannons. Siege mode is stationary only, but the cannons recharge much more quickly. Toggling between these two modes are as simple as pressing your crouch and jump buttons.

GDF Challenge – Mow down 4 enemies, run under a Cyclops, plant a HE charge on its knee (or if you’re seriously daring, on its crotch), arm the charge, run like the dickens and see if the driver notices in time to get the hell out of there.

The deployable system also adds a new depth to the battlefield shooter genre, simply use your deployable tool, choose the spot, orientation and press enter. The deployable will be there shortly, where, depending on your class, it will be Anti-vehicle/personnel (by far the most useful), or even artillery interceptor turrets (although, surprisingly, I haven’t seen artillery used that much).

Most of the weapons have the right force and feel to them, although a few feel a bit light such as the machine pistol and the shotgun. The shooter model is pretty accurate and your bullets don’t often stray far – which in a game as fast paced as this, is the way it should be. Shooting your enemies with weapons such as the shotgun and sniper rifle/railgun is very satisfying, but due to fixed animations and the unconscious state before death where you can still be revived other weapons lack this feel. Especially when you disguise yourself, stab a prone enemy whilst he’s on the floor and see him magically flip onto his back.

Pen-ultimately, the audio is nothing special, the voice acting is pretty nice, but explosions, gun fire, what little ambience there is etc., is nothing that really stands out.

Mode wise, the “campaign” mode is basically a three map series with persistent experience, which doesn’t provide much depth or story. The game would actually be much better with a single player campaign, but second thoughts suggest such a fine option is better left well away from this particular multiplayer focused game, to avoid it meeting the fate of; “tacked on afterthought”.
However, the maps and the beauty of the battles far make up for this lack of depth and overall, the game is a fun experience and, if you put the time and effort into exploring the maps, you can find some really good vantage points, with a surprising margin for strategy.

If you’re looking for a deep, interesting shooter, where the story goes a bit beyond the map description….then this game isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something a bit more in depth than the quick fixes Unreal Tourney provides, but not quite as sluggish as Battlefield, then feel free to open up your wallet, just don’t blow the budget on it.

*Buy this if you liked; Battlefield series, Star Wars Battlefront, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Dark Messiah: MaM, Halo series.

*You may notice Quake is missing from this list, due to the ups and downs of this game, Quake fans may actually be disappointed at the direction the game has taken – Quake fans – tread carefully.