Usually characterized by fast-paced shooting, the Quake series occupies a prime position in the first-person shooter genre. The very first Quake came out almost ten years ago, while the last franchise release to hit the PC, Quake III: Arena, was published some six years ago. New arrival, Quake 4, runs on the extremely good Doom 3 engine, and the storyline continues right where Quake 2 ended. In Quake 2 you were but a nameless space marine, who eventually defeated Makron, evil leader of the planet Stroggos. The Stroggs were barbaric aliens searching for human remains, to which they fused metals and machineryâ€”to create yet more Strogg aliens. In Quake 4 youâ€™re granted a nameâ€”Matthew Kaneâ€”and you are a member of the elite â€˜Rhino Squadâ€™. Along with other Marines, you are tasked with defeating the Strogg race and their new, more powerful Makron. However, the narrative surprise within Quake 4 lies in the discovery that to successfully defeat Makron and the Stroggs, you have to become one of them.
Thereâ€™s a wide range of weapons at your disposal to cope with that particular mission andâ€”unlike Doom 3â€™s awkward accessory switchingâ€”some of them even have a built-in flashlight. You start the game with a relatively weak handgun: the blaster, but shortly afterwards you find the machine gun, equipped with zoom capabilities, rapid fireâ€”and a flashlight. Another soldier will eventually place a shotgun in your willing hands, which sadly doesnâ€™t support a flashlight. Another available weapon is the grenade launcher, which inflicts considerable damage, so best to employ care and consideration if you wish to avoid hurting your squad mates. The nailgun is a Strogg weapon, and it shoots, wellâ€¦nailsâ€”and it emerges as a slow yet powerful weapon. The hyperblaster is a laser gun that shoots energy bolts. It too is a somewhat slow addition to your arsenal, but it does inflict serious damage, as well as offload several bolts at a time. Other powerful weapons are the rocket launcher, which is fairly self-explanatory; the railgun, which shoots fast-moving slugs; and then thereâ€™s the lightning gun, which fires lightning coils for an extended timeâ€”though finding its ammunition is difficult. The Dark Matter gun is one of the coolest weapons in Quake 4; it discharges some kind of black hole, which hits an enemy, passes through them, and then sucks them backward into the created hole. It is easily the most powerful weapon within the game, but its loading time is rather long.
In different stages of the single-player mode, you get the chance to upgrade some of your amassed weaponry. The machine gun gets double clips, the shotgun loads full clips of shells rather than singles, and the nailgun receives larger clips, more rapid fire and, later on, it becomes a â€˜homing nailgunâ€™â€”which is undeniably cool. The rocket launcher upgrade enables the firing of 3 rockets simultaneously, and the railgun upgrade inflicts more damage while enabling the slugs to pass through multiple targets. The lightning gun upgrade sees the spent lightning bounce from one enemy to another, causing massive damage to all of them.
The single-player mode emerges as a very linear game, which contains 31 levels. In it you can experience the vehicles of Quake 4. You can use hover tanks, a tram, and mechs (remote-controlled giant robots). During the game, some of the soldiers and commanders you meet will give you orders and missions, and you also receive radio commands too. The level areas are all quite similar, which promotes the feeling that youâ€™ve visited any given area already, and a lot of the enemies are also similar to one another as wellâ€”though occasionally you do come up against a notably difficult boss. In some parts of the game you receive help from fellow soldiers, which proves handy because they usually do a pretty good job in assisting. The A.I. enemies are also fairly formidable; they attempt to evade your fire, as well as physically jump at you from ceilings, floors, and walls. As far as saving goes, you can save the game at any point, but the auto-save occurs often enough, usually at the beginning of a level or before a hard fight.
The multiplayer part of the game is arena style, in which you can play as various characters such as Kane, Marines, Strogg and others. The multiplayer modes are fairly standard and include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Tournament, Capture the Flag, and Arena Capture the Flag. In effect, the multiplayer on offer in Quake 4 is very similar to that found in its predecessor Quake III: Arenaâ€”only with much stronger graphics.
Quake 4 is certainly a good game. The graphics are great but, to enjoy the game to its fullest, a high-end computer is essential. A lot of the levels are closed, and some of them seem extremely similarâ€”which is a shameâ€”but you do get sporadic scenery changes when the action moves to exterior locations, or while riding and shooting from vehicles. Quake 4 places more emphasis on its single-player campaign, and in so doing has slightly neglected its multiplayer aspects. That said, Quake 4 can still provide you with many hours of fun-filled shooting.