Do you like fighting AI Bots that move in inhuman ways? Or do you like unstructured, high speed, multiplayer battles complete with lacking graphics? Enemy Territory: Quake Wars answers a solid “yes” to both these questions.
Playing ET:QW is like buying that TV dinner you see in the freezer isle. It looks good from the image on the cover, but when you open it up and cook it, it only lets you down. But despite the disappointment, you eat it anyway. Five minutes after completing the meal, you ask yourself questions like “Did I pay money for this,” or “why does my stomach feel like it is bleeding from the inside?” It may look good upon first glance, but when examined a little more closely, you realize you should have made a better decision.
The game’s single player mode solely keeps the player in the action seat, removing any sense of plot, cutscenes, or narrative whatsoever. Focusing strictly on high speed gun battles, the single player experience involves nothing more than charging head first into battle, targeting randomly controlled AI bots. Each section of the campaign is completed by finishing a few different stages. But each stage is mostly composed of lame tasks such as building a bridge or hacking a computer (all done by holding down the “X” button).
Similar to Star Wars Battlefront, it is the player’s goal to increase your territory by taking over spawn points and completing mission objectives. The Global Defense Force (GDF) is in constantly battle with the Strogg, poorly modeled demon-looking things. It is the player’s choice which side to take, but each controls almost exactly the same and suffers from the same gameplay flaws.
The first of these flaws is balance and speed. Because no side has a clear advantage over the other, gameplay should remain fairly equal. But the game’s biggest problem is the overwhelming sense of speed. Each character runs so fast, it gives the game an incredible, unnatural atmosphere. And stemming from this increased running speed is the dumbed down aiming functionality. Due to each character’s speed, shooting down enemies could be near impossible without the game’s auto aim feature. The Auto Aim also gives the game a cheap feeling at the same time. Just to test out how favorably the auto aim works, there were times when I locked onto an enemy, and completely took my thumb off the analog stick, only to still shoot down this fast moving target.
ET:QW offers little in the strategy department as well. Due to the game’s incredibly fast pace, the player is constantly in the action as it only takes a couple of seconds to respawn and sprint back to battle zone. Before you spawn, however, the player has the option to choose from a number of different professions (soldiers fight, medics can heal, engineers can fix things, etc) and weapons. Choosing to take the sniper rifle is almost always the wrong mistake because hitting distant opponents is near impossible, even with the friendly auto aiming. Instead, I found using the standard class of soldier with the default weapons to be the best fit for any situation as charging head first into battle always seems like the right move to make.
The single player experience is definitely on the lacking side of things. Friend or foe, every member of the battlefield is an AI. Sometime these computer controlled bots act favorably, sometimes not. One time, several of my fellow soldiers were running in circles aimlessly in a tight hallway, making my exit out of the facility quite difficult. Fighting baddies is also a joke as each character is horribly modeled and animated. Having a character shoot at you while facing 90 degrees in the opposite direction is a little dumbfounding. In fact, the entire game lacks in both the graphics and presentation department. Because there are no cutscenes, I have no idea why I am fighting these poorly designed demon invaders in the first place. The lacking textures and low poly count looks like this title was originally planned for the Dreamcast.
Many other flaws bring down the overall score of this game as well. One is the terrible weapons selection system. Using the Right Bumper to select a weapon, the player can only choose a weapon by scrolling through your entire inventory in one direction. And because the gameplay is so fast, choosing the right weapon when you need it can easily mean life or death. Unfortunately, using this one-button scrolling technique can also lead to user error. Believe me, there were many times when I was trying to scroll through my weapon stock quickly, only to pass up my desired weapon.
The lack of a significant co-op mode is also a major question to ask. Yes, you can take the battle over Xbox Live, but there is no option to browse through the single player campaign with a buddy. In fact, there is no local multiplayer option; only LAN and LIVE multiplayer options are available.
Playing with friendly AI medics is also a hit or miss situation. Once the player gets shot down, a medic has the ability to revive a fallen comrade. There were definitely times when an AI bot would bring me back to life or even throw me health packs, but there were plenty of times when the medics in my squad wouldn’t even move. Not relying on medics is one of the smartest moves a player can make in this game.
About the only thing ET:QW is good for is a cheap 30 minute thrill. Once you play through the first two stages, you will taste everything the game has to offer. The high action, run and gun style of gameplay forces players to mindlessly charge into battle after a quick respawn every time, eliminating any type of strategy or in-depth team work. But perhaps the overall lacking gameplay could have been subsided with high res graphics, a killer story, and a high end presentation. This again, is definitely not the case.
Gamers who like a little more structure in their FPS’s, like Halo’s mixture of skill with rock-paper-scissors combat based gameplay or Gears of War’s stop-and-pop shooting mechanic, should definitely look else where. But if you like your action fast and furious, like in Unreal Tournament, then perhaps Quark Wars might provide the type of entertainment you’re looking for.