War. What is it good for? Nowadays, it’s commonly accepted that the answer is…$60. As long as people continue to hand out the cash, game companies will have us relive World War II over and over and over again. However, the war being discussed here is less about Germany and more about Strogg. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars draws the focus away from the unstoppable warrior and toward the cannon fodder. In this case, that would be you.
In a marked departure for a Quake game, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars focuses not on the usual Quake fragfest, but on team-based strategy and tactics. With this change of pace, the game mirrors the Team Fortress 2 experience but sets it in the Quake universe. Unlike Team Fortress 2, Quake Wars can be played offline as well as online, but Activision obviously wants you to play online, as the offline modes are fairly lacking and aren’t all that fun. The game makes up for this by having Achievements that require you to beat every offline campaign three times and play all the Instant Action modes. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars has you fighting as either the GDF or the evil Strogg. You’ll choose from five different classes when creating your character, with the GDF and Strogg having different weapons. The Soldier/Aggressor class focuses on bringing the biggest gun to the party and killing everything that moves. It also has access to bombs that can be used to blow up walls, objectives and annoying turrets. The Medic/Technician is logically the team doctor, and it’s generally the class you will not want to play as. You can heal and revive your teammates, which is a nice and traditional support role, but the downside is that everyone in a tri-county area wants to kill you.
Next up is the Engineer/Constructer class, the gearheads of the team who build turrets and fix vehicles. This class carries a shotgun and likes to set mines in crucial places, while the Field Ops/ Oppressor class can call-in air strikes, launch mortars and dispense ammo to teammates. Rounding things out is the Covert Ops/Infiltrator class, which allows players to snipe and disguise themselves as the enemy for some quick backstabbing action.
With so many classes, there’s obviously a lot to do in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Unfortunately, the in-game tutorial tells you little more than how to move and shoot. You’ll have to figure out how to revive teammates, call in air support, drive vehicles and set up turrets by yourself. In addition to all that, you need to learn how to pilot vehicles, which is fun other than the fact that they have goofy controls and usually lead to a medic rushing toward you. Fortunately every class dies easily enough, balancing things out in a way, although the Medic class truly is a long, frustrating journey and best avoided.
The offline mode is also best avoided, for several reasons. Normally offline bots are all too easy, but the bots in Enemy Territory are good to the point of being ridiculous, as they’ll quickly pick you out of a crowd and sacrifice themselves if it means killing you repeatedly. The bots will also be your opponents in the misleadingly named “Campaign” mode. Campaign merely consists of you and a bunch of bots engaging in team warfare on a few different maps, and it’s best considered as training for online play. In this mode, you’ll either have to complete objectives or stop the other team from doing so, all while killing bots with humorous names such as Mr. Bowels and Old Man Frankie. The novelty of killing a bot named I Own You never wears off, particularly since the bots are cheap. Not cheap in a “no-scope sniper headshot way,” but more in the “placing five mines right on the objective” way. Quite simply, the bots are jerks. But then again, so are humans, and the bots are training you for what you’ll encounter online.
Whether playing online or off, though, the game’s visuals are drab at best. The environments consist of brown hills set against brown buildings and grey skies, making the graphics easily the game’s weakest point. The sounds suffer the same “remake syndrome” fate, as they consist mostly of gunshots and explosions, with the occasional teammate yelling at you via Xbox Live. Still, online play is really the way to go, as the action is much more intense and you feel as though you’re a member of a team rather than the sole competent soldier surrounded by guys with “Please Shoot Me” signs taped to them.
In spite of its team-based changed, though, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is still designed for fans of the Quake franchise. If you really like Quake and have never played Team Fortress 2, then this might be worth the price tag. However, everyone else will be turned away be the unimpressive visuals and lack of story-driven offline play.
- Score: 7
- Not a bad game in and of itself, but there’s just not enough content here to make it seem worth the money you paid for it.
— John Dempsey