Review: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

ETQW - PS3.jpg Even amid last year’s crazy-packed fall/holiday game release season, id Software’s Enemy Territory: Quake Wars stood out as a top PC shooter, mainly for its satisfying shooting model and dynamic mission-based multiplayer warfare. Now the Global Defense Force-versus-Strogg war has broken out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 promising the same online thrills.

So did the porting process go according to plan? In a word: no. In two words: hell no!

What went wrong, you ask? Unfortunately, pretty much everything. The core game is still in place. You hop online, take up arms as one of five different classes for either the human Global Defense Force or alien Strogg and go to war against the opposing faction with your fellow comrades. During a match, one team attacks while the other defends, and it’s up to the attacking team to work together and complete three or four successive mission objectives within the provided time limit while the other team does everything in its power to thwart your efforts. One map, for example, you must first construct a generator, then infiltrate the enemy base and destroy a vault door to then access a console to insert a disc into and transmit the data. There’s an exciting progression to this play structure that keeps the action focused and intense.

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The team-oriented, mission-based matches provide a fantastic change of pace from the typical online shooter modes like deathmatch, capture the flag and zone control, the 12 available maps are massive and laid out nicely, the class system is diverse and incredibly well balanced (though I wish the in-depth reward and proficiency upgrade system was persistent), and the gunplay is thoroughly enjoyable. Seriously, everything about the core of the game exudes excellence.

But in the transition from PC to console, all this good gameplay has been crushed by numerous design concessions and game-breaking performance issues. For one, the 32-player limit of the PC version has been halved to only a max of 16 players, which makes battles on the huge maps less chaotic in comparison. Secondly, the load times are almost unbearable at times, even on the PS3 after a mandatory HDD install. Thirdly, the graphical quality has been significantly compromised. Much of the texturing, animations and level geometry isn’t a whole lot better than that of a last-gen PS2 or Xbox game. It quite literally looks like the PC version running on its lowest possible settings, and even that is a generous comparison.

And finally, even with the visual downgrade the game engine struggles to keep up. When played offline against bots (that’s all you can do single-player by the way, there is no story campaign of any kind) it runs smoothly, but online the frame rate is abysmal. There’s a constant jitteriness about the game that throws off your timing and ability to aim with any sort of consistency, and for an online shooter that’s simply unacceptable.

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Somewhere deep down there is a great game to be found in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, last year’s original PC release proves that point quite clearly. But unfortunately the quality of the PC version didn’t translate over to the PS3 and Xbox 360, leaving console gamers with two terribly shoddy ports until hopefully Nerve Software and Underground Development can put a couple of patches together to get the game running properly. With so many stellar online console shooters out there right now (Metal Gear Online, Frontlines: Fuel of War, Warhawk, Battlefield: Bad Company, Call of Duty 4, etc.), Quake Wars is completely forgettable and simply not worth your time. Do pick up the PC version, though. You should be able to find it for as low as $30 nowadays, which is half the price of the far inferior console versions.

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Pros:
+ Solid shooting model makes killing foes satisfying and fun
+ 12 huge, well-designed maps
+ Mission-based play style brings something different to the online shooter landscape

Cons:
– Technical flaws, particularly a choppy frame rate, cripple all positives the game has going for it
– Ridiculously dated graphics; looks like crap compared to the PC version
– Pointless single-player mode
– Lack of persistent upgrades and a generally unsatisfying ranking system

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Underground Development (PS3), Nerve Software (Xbox 360)
Release Date: 5/27/08
Genre: FPS
Players: 1-16

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!