Friday, May 29, 2015


Did you like Quake 2 more than Quake 1? Well, good. Then this sequel's right for you!

Are you ready to take on the Stroggs once more? Suit up, soldier.

Hell awaits your soul, will you dare face more id Software reviews through the following links?

VGR: QUAKE 4 alternatively known as simply Quake 4 or Quake IV
From Raven Software/id Software/Activision
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PC & Mac

Type FPS
Year 2005

If one thing, Quake III marked a huge success for id Software. In its own right, it was as much a milestone for the developer as the original Doom was.

The game was for a pretty long while the incontestable most played multiplayer shooter on PC. Despite being open since 1996, no wonder id officially established QuakeCon in 1999 following the success of the game, organizing there in Texas the first ever Quake 3 tournament (which are still held up to this very day, only now run by ZeniMax Media).

But how could you even top that success? A completely new multiplayer game? There's a sense of limited life span, if you're not able to bring in the fans of the original around, plus Quake 3 was already way too well established for that.

Going back to the original Quake 1 setting? But by the mid 2000s there were already too many gruesome horror shooters, including id's own rejuvenated Doom 3 that had just come out in 2004.

The answer was the least expected one - a sequel to the science-fiction/horror Quake 2. Which had something the others didn't (specially Quake 3) - a simple enough and intriguing storyline. And narratives were now taking a much bigger roles in videogames. Doom 3 was heavily story-driven. QUAKE 4 would do just the same.

Since id was far too busy working on a whole new engine - the future id Tech 5, which would only be usable in 2011 - work on Quake 4 was relegated to an external studio, Raven Software. Raven has a long history working with id Software, they've used id's various engines over the years, they're the studio behind the games Heretic and Hexen (which... I should probably also review at some point actually) and their various sequels, and would also get to work on Wolfenstein in 2009.

Since the next engine was still in the works, Quake 4 runs on Doom 3's id Tech 4. The game even shares a couple of assets with Doom 4.

With all that in order, what the game needed next was a story. And the game actually managed to get a pretty decent one at that.

Quake 4 is the direct sequel to Quake II. During what is called the Second Invasion of Stroggos. The Strogg, the alien race of QII makes a return here after a cameo in Quake 3. The Stroggs is a cybernetic race that takes prisoners of war and through assimilation "stroggify" turns them into more Strogg forces. They've already completely ruined their native planet by killing all life on it.

After the success of the mission of the lone survivor Quake II (Bitterman), their leader The Makron had been destroyed.

You play as this Rhino Squad marine named Corporal Matthew Kane, part of an elite trout that was sent at the heart if the conflict to put an end to this Stroggs opposition. Rhino Squad is tasked to secure Stroggos. During the flight, the ship is shot down and crashes somewhere in the middle of a battlefield. Kane is lost. He meets up with various soldiers scattered across enemy territory.

During the assault he locates the rest of the squad and the ship USS Hannibal. They try to infiltrate the Strogg stronghold with a bomb, but instead get ambushed. Kane finds a newly re-constructed Makron!!

Kane later wakes up strapped in a Strogg facility, in the middle of stroggification! Where he finds those that were not strong enough to survive the bio-mechanical additions end up as living human batteries! Before a neurochip is implanted on his brain, Rhino Squad breaks through and they're all able to escape.

After fighting through all these stroggified zombies, they now see Kane's new Strogg physiology as a possible answer to their prayers. It might just give 'em the edge they need to defeat the Strogg in one last attack. Strogg!Kane is now able to infiltrate and use the teleporters in the Strogg areas. Kane reaches the Nexus Core, where this huge brain-like center control the entire alien forces...

As far game the game goes, Quake 4 is a fairly standard first person shooter. The gameplay is in fact pretty close to Quake III's all things considered.

The game has a pretty fun weaponry as per id game standard, the weapons being directly taken from the previous Quake games. You start up the game with the likes of the machine gun, shotgun or rocket launcher, before being able to get your hands on the much bigger railgun, nailgun, lightning gun and finally the dark matter gun (which replaces the BFG this time around, it's basically a reverse-BFG) to name a few.

Fun fact: while in the single campaign you need to reload your weapons, they kept the multiplayer free from having to reload your guns just like in the older games.

What I really like about this game is how it finally ditched the long-run thread of the lone soldier facing an invasion all by himself like most id games (like, say, Quake 1 & 2 and the entire Doom series), for a war-type scenario this time. Giving a sense of a much larger-scale war, which was pretty common at the time in games like Halo, Half-Life 2, etc.  You get to fight alongside CPU-controlled squad mates from time to time, joining you during a lot of segments of the game.

You're also able to get control of a few vehicles this time, like a mech and a tank.

Most of the game has you trying to complete a few objectives, instead of mere linear levels. 

Since Quake 4 came out after Quake 3 (well.. duh!), despite putting the emphasis on the single player storyline the game also came packaged with additional multiplayer modes unlike Doom 3. Nothing as innovative and original on the same level of Quake III mind you. But it was still pretty good and even allowed fan modification (like the addition of similar bots and whatnot). It's all fairly standard. There's Deathmatches, Team Deathmatch, a Tourney, Capture the Flag, Arena CTF and the decent if forgettable gimmick-y DeadZone. The multiplayer is also the only part of the game that acknowledges the previous non-Quake 2 episodes in fact, where you're both able to do rocket jumps and "strafe-jump", which was great for most fans no doubt. You can also use teleporters there as well as the addition of the all-new improved and more realistic physics the new id Tech 4 allowed.

All in all, it's a fair amount of gaming. A pretty good entry in the series that was able to make the best with the most the series had to offer (despite a just decent online mode). Expanding upon the lore and offering a fresh fun new experience.

Speaking of - once more this was yet another id game that would be quite heavily censored in some places around the world. The German version was famously heavily modified to tone down the graphic violence. (sigh..)

Finally, a word on the sound department. The music was composed by Chris Vrenna and Clint Walsh. It's a fairly decent modern action-oriented videogame soundtrack. The ex-drummer/songwriter for the band Nine Inch Nails Chris Vrenna returned from Doom 3 to provide yet another kickass and moody atmosphere for the game. 

Overall, Quake 4 is definitively one of the better and already most memorable entires in the less publicized id series (compared to Doom or Wolfenstein). The game was released in 2005 to both PC and Mac to much success. Most fans loving the return to the space-faring lore of the fan-favorite Quake II.

Most people noting the really good campaign, the fantastic visuals and the top notch voice acting that really brings it all together. A very fun singeplayer campaign and a decent multiplayer, if it leaves some to be desired. 

The game was also released on PC in a special DVD-Collector Edition with all kinds of promo material art and Quake II (and its expansions) as a bonus. The Xbox 360 port would be released later that same year, which also included Quake II by default (which even contained some achievements, although no gamerscore points). Compared to what I played of the original PC release game, the 360 version had its fair share of issues. There were a few framerate drops and much longer load times, but otherwise it looked, played and felts pretty much the same, just like the multiplayer it was pretty decent, but nothing more. Probably rushed since it was a launch release on the 360, one of the very first games to be compatible with the Xbox Live.

While Quake 4 never received a proper direct sequel, there were some sort of continuations to the series to some extend. id released a sequel to the 2003 multiplayer spinoff Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, which was called Enemy Territory: Quake Wars in 2007. This online-only multiplayer allows players to join the ranks and play both sides of the Human-Strogg conflict.

There were some talks for a possibile Quake sequel. John Carmack said at Quakecon 2011 the team at id wanted to explore a return to the more bizarre/horror Cthulhu-ish nature of the original Quake 1, rather than simply make another installment of the Quake II/Quake 4 scifi storyline with the Stroggs. To try something different instead of more Strogg. Granted, it's been far too long since the original, I would love to see a modern return back to the very first episode nowadays.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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