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Sunday 23 October 2005

On Quake 4 [Spiny]

If you've caught a few of the Q4 reviews you'll notice that the distinct theme is one of underwhelment. While the single player is lots of things: graphically impressive, less brown that Doom, pretty well scripted, the feeling is that Raven let the side down on the gameplay. There's no apparent attempt at clever AI with the Strogg running & gunning straight for you. If you're after Half-Life 2 levels of enemy intelligence then I suggest you check out the rather excellent F.E.A.R. The overall impression is gameplay stuck in the late 90s, albeit within an explosive spectacle of Jerry Bruckheimeresque proportions. If running & gunning with brain out is your thing then you'll probably find some solid entertainment here, but be warned it falls a long way short in terms of gameplay than other recent titles. Far Cry, HL2 & F.E.A.R.

There's also a few annoyances that really don't do the game justice. A couple that really niggle me is that a lot of the sound assets seem to have been lifted straight from doom3 with minimal tweaking, and Stroggos seems to look an awful lot like mars Prior to release, a few of us in the clan dusted off our railguns & rekindled our love of Quake 3. Despite the excelently constructed gameplay mechanics of the Unreal Tournament series (Onslaught out battlefielding, the battlefield series), nothing ever came close to the visceral brutality of a good old Quake 3 deathmatch. Even now I go misty eyed over the memory of seeing my frame rate tank as I waded through clouds of offal on a packed server. Ahh those were the days :).

Well the good news is that they DO make them like they used to. The feel of the gameplay is very Q3 with a best-of selection from the Quake series weapons. I do have a niggle about the default weapon, the machine gun. While it's OK, I find the sound a bit annoying on packed servers & the effect is not unlike a legion of children banging on crappy snare drums. [Edit: someone's done a tweaked pak here] Old faves like the nail & lightning guns reappear while the rail is as sweet as ever. The BFG AKA the "Dark Matter Gun" has been given a bit of a tweak. Unlike the plasma on steroids version in Q3 it now works a little more like the Quake 2 version, dealing a slow moving bubble of ribena coloured death with a huge splash area. Multi play was the main reason I picked up Q4 & a graphical lift Quake 3 gameplay was all I was expecting. After all this time, I'm still a fan of the simplistic adrenelin rush of twitch shooter gameplay. Hey! I think for a living, can't expect me to do it on my time off too ;) As such I don't feel too short changed by the single player campaign. There's one thing that's a must for on line play though - Turn Down Your Video Settings. Although the network code is no longer linked to the frame rate, the game still lives & dies by the lack or presence of lag. While I found 1280x1024 "high" perfectly acceptable in single player, I've gone to 1024x768 "medium" for multi. The result is far more playable. Having gone back to the single player game I didn't even really notice the difference. The gritty vista provided by Doom 3 seems very tollerent of lower resolutions.

There's also a rather nifty instant tourney mode that will manage a bunch of mates scrapping for the title of King Fragger, just the sort of thing we could have done with when EED used to run Voltfests! Maybee if I can persuade enough clannies to stop hugging trees for a bit we could even have a couple of nights where we relived the glory days when the EED name was ph34red accross european Q2 servers...

For those that have the game, those Upset Chaps have started their very own Q4 guide. You may also want to check out the video review courtesy of Burger King.

Edit: Around half way through the sp now & enjoying it, seems to get better as it goes along. There's some very impressively designed interior levels.


  1. I had fairly low expectations for q4. I got F.E.A.R first because I knew that if I bought q4 I'd only be getting a dreary single player game and a prettier version of q3 for the multiplayer. My desire to see what it looked like finally got the better of me and I went and picked up a copy of the DVD edition last night. Sure enough, I was right, about the singleplayer at least. The single player is just your standard corridor shooter, but strangely enough the multiplayer is a highly entertaining experience.The gameplay remains largely unchanged from q3, but it has subtle elements of q2 style gameplay thrown in, weapon switches are longer, rockets are a bit slower - all the stuff the quakeworld players used to complain about in q2 - check!The actual game experience is quite strange. On the q3 remake maps, like the remake of The Longest Yard, it's just like playing q3. On the otherhand, playing on the remake of q2dm1 - The Edge, I feel like I'm playing q2 - bizarre.I feel that while the gametype is stale and outdated in terms of mass market appeal, it brings a new iteration of the quake deathmatch genre thats fresh enough to hold the attention of a hardcore crowd who long for the frenzied, twitch reaction bloodbath gameplay that quake4 delivers on. Short video of deathmatch gameplay on the q3 remake: - 10MB Xvid

  2. Any idea on how to do weapon toggle scripts? The doom engine dosen't seem to like the vstr method from my q3 config?

  3. Can't say I do, I've always just bound individual weapons directly to mwheelup/mwheeldown/mouse3(wheelclick)/q/e/x/2/3/4/ctrl.In light of ASE not working, I tried Kquery and found it was a bit clunky. There is a server browser called Quake 4 Echelon that is working well for me at the moment.... like ASE works now though :)