Reeses products aside, some things go well together. First-person shooter and role-playing elements prove to be no exception to this rule and where thereis hope for a good game, Enemy Territory QUAKE Wars delivers (i.e., ETQW), albeit with room for improvement.
The commercial sequel to the popular free Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory modification, takes place in the Quake universe wherein the humans (known as the Global Defense Force) battle the aliens (a.k.a., the Strogg) in mission-based maps. An expanded version of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, ETQW follows up on the role-based style of the originalis gameplay while adding controllable vehicles, larger maps and the option of computer-controlled bots to fight with and against.
Like Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, ETQW allows the player to log into the game as a given role (Soldier/Aggressor, Fields Ops/Oppressor, Medic/Technician, Engineer/Constructor or Covert Ops/Infiltrator), each with its own unique abilities. Once logged into the game and inserted into the battle, players can work to complete a variety of missions (such as destroying an enemy structure, repairing a vehicle or planting explosives on a nearby barrier) to earn experience points, achievements and character upgrades.
Roles make all the difference and the developers at Splash Damage realized this when designing the game. Unlike similar games, ETQW can change the larger mission the player may need to accomplish within seconds. The title allows for the player to move with this and in cases where the larger mission may switch from capturing a forward base to building and defending a mining laser with which to destroy a large barrier to access the final goal of the map, players can quickly switch from a purely aggressive role such as Soldier/Aggressor to an Engineer/Constructor in order to complete their mission.
Once complete, players can switch back to a preferred class and fight the battle their way, becoming involved with the larger goals of the mission or simply hanging back and harrying the enemy with methods such as sniping, laying down covering fire for teammates, setting traps or calling in air strikes. Part of the joy within any role-playing game is discovering what each role is capable of and players will find plenty to choose from here.
Even exempting the fact that rewards and achievements offer cool new weapons and items (for example, Engineers/Constructors will be able to unlock a grenade launcher, etc.), no class feels left out in ETQW and where the Soldier/Aggressor class has a wide choice of weapons from the get-go, other classes will find themselves able to make spawn points out of their victimsi bodies, drop ammo packs for teammates, call in supply crates to be airdropped to specified locations, disguise themselves as enemy units, build support structures such as radar stations and anti-personnel structures and hack enemy structures depending on the class chosen. Nothing feels left out, no class feels like a chore to play with in order to support the team and thereis literally something for everyone.
ETQW became the first Enemy Territory game to sport vehicles and the title does this well, but has a different take on it. While a wide range of vehicles are present and easy to use, the vehicles themselves have their own limitations and will decay if used and then abandoned as the round continues. Standard light vehicles allow the player to zip around the map quickly but provide little armor while heavier vehicles swap speed for armor. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping vehicle is the Strogg Cyclops, a giant mechanized robot capable of both walking over enemy units as well as firing plasma cannons to easily suppress enemy vehicles. Though this unit can only spawn at the Strogg home base, it quickly becomes the center of attention and a good distraction unit as the opposing team focuses its efforts on taking it down before it does too much damage.
Strategic elements have always been welcome in first-person shooters and a few well-placed deployable units can make all the difference in the world for a team. Once the round begins, players can quickly drop in radar, anti-vehicle, anti-personnel and artillery units to guard their position and strike from long range if need be. These units, if placed correctly, can quickly become the bane of the other teamis existence, showering the other team in gunfire while your teammates set mines and other traps with which to give your opponent fits.
Albeit ETQW is meant as an online game, the titleis single player modes are interesting and can be fun, even though the program doesnit allow a campaign (typically three maps) to be saved. Players can take on the computer in individual campaigns as well as objective-based and stopwatch modes and various difficulty levels make practice entertaining before trying out the competition online.
Where graphics and sound are concerned, ETQW is on par with any marquee title currently available for the Mac. Detailed models and particle effects catch the eye and a quick, steady frame rate, complete with realistic lighting captures the chaos of the battle in progress around you. A nice selection of map locations (such as the city, forest, docks, desert, arctic environments, etc.) keep the game from feeling staid and a precise physics engine allows for accurate vehicle speeds, collisions and lifelike explosions. The environment is then rounded out by a good collection of music and nice vocal work for both the Global Defense and the Strogg side, the GDF sounding as militaristic as expected while the Strogg sound like the tongue-in-cheek alien invaders they are thanks to lines such as "Destroy the human food!" and "I require a technician!" being delivered in an outstanding reptilian, raspy voice.
As fun as ETQW can be, there are shortcomings to be contended with. Even after applying the available patch, the game presented a variety of bugs including the following:
- Sound cuts out after 30 to 45 minutes of solo gameplay and could only be restored after restarting the computer.
- PunkBuster sometimes refused to stay enabled in multiplayer preference selection.
- Application once offered to restore itself to default settings.
- Application refused to boot on occasion.
None of these bugs proved to be insurmountable and restarting my Mac and then launching the game seemed to be the best fix, but the current build feels as if it needs to be handled gently instead of having the solid, robust feeling one might expect from the title. Still, there are no absolute showstoppers and itis easy enough to hop online and have a fun, robust multiplayer session as well as a local network game.
Another patch is needed for the game to run well and this shouldnit be forgotten, despite Aspyris ever-increasing selection of titles for the Mac.
The Bottom Line
Even with the bugs and fixes being needed and the whole nine yards, this is a genuinely fun title with something for both the conventional first-person shooter fan as well as the player who like strategic elements, setting traps and altering their play style to a new class to try a new idea against their opponent.
With a little more fine-tuning, the game could be great. Until then, the humans will just have to be crushed a little more carefully on your Mac and thatis all there is to it.
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
- Operating System: 10.5.1 (Leopard)
- CPU Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
- CPU Speed: 2 GHz
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 5.5 GB + 1 GB Swap File
- Video Card (ATI): Radeon X1600
- Video Card (NVidia): Geforce 7300
- Video Memory (VRam): 128 MB
- Media Required: DVD-ROM
- Macintosh mouse and keyboard
- Internet (TCP/IP) or LAN play supported
- Internet play requires broadband connection
RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
- CPU Speed: 2.33 GHz
- Operating System: 10.4.11 (Tiger), 10.5.1 (Leopard)
- Memory: 2 GB
- Video Memory (VRam): 256
Supported Video cards:
NVIDIA GeForce 7300, 7600, 8600 NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 ATI Radeon X1600, X1900, HD 2400, HD 2600