by Chase Streetman
Cost: $1.79 and 6 hours
In 2005, when the Xbox 360 launched, Quake 4 was meant to be one of the major system sellers. The Quake series has long been the leader in the twitch shooter market, and has arguably influenced more than half of the first-person shooters to be released since then. Coming from a series of prestigious pedigree, much was expected of Quake 4, and many will say that it met every expectation.
Nine years later and $58 cheaper, is it still a worthwhile purchase?
Quake has long been the go-to title for arena-based, twitch shooters. Its multiplayer focus is so strong that Quake 3 all but removed the single player component.
Quake 4, on the other hand, went the complete opposite direction, and that probably paid off in the long run. It features a six to eight hour campaign that follows much more in the vein of Id’s other title, Doom 3, than its predecessor, Quake 3.
The story is still on par with a lot of the shooters that are coming out, but that has never been the real draw of the series. The single player experience was still fun, but some technical limitations really bogged it down.
The first of these limitations is in the enemy AI. Until late in the game, the most enemies will do is simply bum rush you, or shuffle side to side while shooting. This kind of AI is unacceptable given that games like Halo, which released 4 years prior, featured enemies that would flank and use cover. When enemies just run out into view and then dead stop, it makes for a much less strategically engaging game. It’s far too reminiscent of a light-gun shooter to be a truly great FPS.
The second major limitation is that the frame rate is incredibly inconsistent. It runs as high as 60frames per second if you’re doing nothing at staring at a wall, but, in combat, if can drop well under 10 FPS. This wouldn’t have been that bad in 2005, but having seen what the same console can do in 2014, it’s a bit aggravating.
It also suffers from some questionable design decisions, primarily, the lack of local multiplayer. The decision is probably based on the series’ PC history, where LAN parties were common, but this doesn’t really translate well to console. It’s much less likely for gamers to get together with a collection of consoles and televisions. This lack of local multiplayer is emphasized by the now completely empty online servers, which have been empty since about two years after the release.
The one match that I was able to get into was rather enjoyable, but it felt like it was just a map pack for Quake 3. After waiting for 35 minutes, I was dropped into a match with three other players, who I believe were in a party with each other. The map that we were playing was a remake of the Quake 3 map “The Longest Yard,” which is my personal favorite map from Quake 3. After trouncing me for the remainder of a match, the three dropped out, presumably to play a private match. I waited around for another match for another hour to no avail.
On a related note, anyone seeking to achieve perfect games should avoid this title entirely, as it is a nearly impossible 1000 points. This is due to a large number of the achievements being multiplayer-based, featuring gems such as “Achieve the number one rank in the All Gametypes leaderboard.” Anyone familiar with Mike Kroon’s quest for 1000 points in Quake 4 will know all about this.
To be honest, Quake 4 would absolutely be a worthwhile purchase if there was local multiplayer, but the single player and the ghost town multiplayer is just not worth the time it takes to play them. If you want to play a better version of the single player, pick up Doom 3. On the other hand, if you are now waxing nostalgic for the good ol’ days of multiplayer twitch shooters, play Quake Live, which is now free on Steam.