Although I didn't review the PC version of Quake Wars (check out Sean's review here
- and my review of the PS3 version here
) I spent a huge amount of time with the beta and tracked the game since it was announced. When I heard that Activision was bringing the game to the consoles I was a bit cynical as the game's asymmetrical class based game play may not go over well with the console crowd. These kinds of games require a lot of team work and coordination to really work well and I'm not entirely sure that console crowd meets those demands.
The back story of the game is a bit odd as it's actually a prequel to the second and fourth Quake games. In the previous games you attacked Stroggos, home planet of the half human/half robotic Strogg to beat back the Strogg. Enemy Territories:Quake Wars actually covers the Strogg invasion of Earth that precipitated the events of the other two games, allowing you to play both the defending humans and the attacking Strogg. If you're looking for more of a plot than that you're going to have to try and stitch together the events of the missions in the game because there's no real narrative to the game the background is just a setup to have two different forces beating up on each other.
The game is class based and you have your standard classes of soldier, engineer, medic, sniper, and support for both sides (although the Strogg do get somewhat cooler names for the same classes). There are some nice tweaks to the classes as your medic class and engineer classes aren't gimped and are actually useful in combat outside of their typical roles. You can customize your class a bit by choosing different weapons based on how you want to play that class and you can earn more weapons and utilities by earning promotions during the game. Promotions are earned by completing objectives and doing the specialized things that you class can do. This is where the game differentiates itself from the rest of the pack as it assigns dynamic mission objectives during the game. For example, in some missions my engineer is responsible for building a shield penetrating laser but since he's Mr. Fix-it and Mr. Turret deploy-er he can get extra experience points for fixing damaged vehicles and deploying turrets. Likewise soldiers are assigned things like taking out enemy turrets and clearing out obstacles for the rest of their team.
The game contains twelve different missions which are broken into four, three mission campaigns. Each mission has three or more goals to accomplish and a set amount of time to get them done in. My personal favorite has you attacking a Strogg stronghold in Africa where you have to infiltrate their base, hack a slipgate to Stroggos, then drive the large MCP to the slipgate and use that foothold to take out a Strogg generator. Each part of the mission requires you to use a different set of classes to complete the objectives as you'll need a soldier to blow open the gates for the vehicles, a sniper class to hack the slipgate, an engineer to repair the MCV as it makes it's way to the setup point, and finally the soldier class to blow up the Strogg generator. There are some other mission types such as holding back a Strogg attack on an area or trying to deliver secret plans somewhere and there's enough variety here to keep you interested. I just wish there as a little more of an introduction to provide some backstory on the missions.
There is a nice variety of vehicles and weapons at your disposal to help you complete your missions though. The weapons are you standard variety FPS fare with a mix of machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and pistols at your disposal. The Strogg get slightly different versions of the same weapons with a few extra toys tossed in for fun. My personal favorite is the remote drone for the Strogg sniper class which allows you to send out a limited range drone to scout out an area and take out enemy soldiers and turrets without exposing yourself. It's not as well done as the drones in Frontlines:Fuel of War but it's still a bit of fun. Vehicles are also your standard FPS fare with jeeps, tanks, and giant walkers at your command. While they aren't the most original things in the world the execution is solid. You can also call in aerial strikes and place defensive and offensive turrets in territory that you own. It's a bit hard to figure out where the turrets can go at times but they are extremely important to helping you win the game.
The Xbox 360 version looks and plays a bit better than the PS3 version of the game. The primary reason is that Nerve actually took the time to polish the graphics a bit and tweak the game to make it more console friendly. This is exemplified by the re-spawn menu which presents the three main options you need (class, class weapon, and re-spawn point) all in one handy window. There are other interface tweaks in the game and the graphics feel like they are a notch or two above what PS3 owners are getting.
The tinkering didn't end there as the folks at Nerve simplified the promotion system and stripped out the mission system from the game. In the PS3 and PC version of the game you can take on small class specific side-missions to earn some extra experience points. These include repairing vehicles, taking out turrets, and setting up radar and their elimination really impacts the overall gameplay experience. This also makes it a bit harder to figure out exactly what you are doing as there's no easy way to setup waypoints on the map or figure out what else you could be doing to help out the cause. There are some on screen icons that show up on your HUD but it's not nearly as intuitive as the PC or PS3 version.
Unlike the PS3 version, the Xbox 360 version has a lot more competition in the marketplace. Games like Frontlines: Fuel of War and the upcoming Battlefield:Bad Company are doing a lot of the same things and doing a lot better job at them. Quake Wars would have been first in field if it had been released soon after the PC version but now there are other better games out on the market right now. While the gameplay is solid it just doesn't have the chops to compete against the other games in the market. It's not a bad game but there are better alternatives out there.