Quake 4 Initial Impressions

Quake 4 ScreenshotDespite my disapointment with Doom 3 I decided to ask for Quake 4 for Christmas. Doom 3’s main issue was that it was basically a large single player tech demo. It performed horribly on all but the beefiest machines. Best I could pull was just over 30fps on a GF4 4200 128mb with the quality turned way way way down. Even on my mid-range GF 6600GT 128mb I can only pull off slightly higher numbers at 1024×768 with mid-range settings. So to my suprise Quake 4 using the same engine performs quite nice at the same resolution that Doom 3 was kind of crapping out at.

The single player doesn’t deviate to much from the same style of game play as Doom 3 but as mentioned in the first paragraph it runs nice even on mid-range hardware. The main difference between the two styles of game play is that the creatures in Quake 4 are far less sneaky. While there are a few moments of suprise the majority of opponents are comfortable approaching you via a door at the opposite end of a hall way. This does lead to some tense moments though as you are fairly limited on ammo and some of the monsters like to try to bum rush you.

Multiplayer is a nice mix of the old, the new and is all together familiar at the same time. I have to give Raven credit. Those guys know how to do multiplayer. They latched on to the original game play handbook that ID created with Quake 3 and ran with it. They scored a hit with Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and now they’ve done it again with Quake 4. I think ID did right in partnering up with Raven. The maps are fast and very well designed. They have enough nooks and crannies that you can get away from the action long enough to spawn and grab a weapon before either you run back in to the fray or the fray comes to you. Most maps seem to be a bit smaller than say UT2004 maps but that definately doesnt detract from the fun. Choke points abound to keep the action heated. I think the decision to seperate the multiplayer from the single player was a smart choice. Single player and multiplayer are definately two seperate beasts and the games that try to conquer both with one set of maps usually fail. The multiplayer is all together familiar. The game play mechanics of weapons, multitiered levels, and tight physics definately leaves a quake 3 taste in your mouth but is still fresh and fun and leaves you wanting more.

Graphically speaking the game seems to have taken a step back and actually evaluted who plays these games. Most of your main stream gamers arnt shelling out for the $400 video card but instead opt for the $100-$200 midrange card. My card is in fact a lower midrange card so the fact that it ran it as well as it has is pretty amazing. The texturing and bump mapping appears to be just as pretty as Doom 3 so its unclear what they changed. One thing that did strike me as a little odd was the fact that there are precious little options and tweaks for the video settings. A couple of check boxes for the obvious active sync, trilinear filtering, AA settings and special effects on/off. No settings for LOD or certain texture map detail levels or anything of the sort. While for me it seems a little odd and I’d like to tweak those things it makes sense from a game designers stand point. If they only allow a certain set of options then they can optimize the game to run with those options. If its to variable they are going to have issues with people complaining the game performs poorly when they are running it on a Radeon 9000 64mb with trilinear filtering turned on. I don’t enjoy being deprived of options but I can at least understand why.

Over all I give Quake 4 high marks and I highly recommend grabbing a copy if your in to the high speed fragging action that made Quake 3 and games like Pain Killer so popular.

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