Quake 4 review
The Few, The Proud, The.... Space Marines?

The good:

+ Nice selection of punishing weapons.
+ Firefights are fast and frenetic.
+ Some nice vehicles to blast around in.

The bad:

- Short length.
- Lacks any sort of innovation.
- Enemies are pretty dirt-stupid.


Hey there soldier, do you hate Strogg? Do you like shootin' stuff? Then the Space Marines want you!

Travel to distant and barren desert planets for reasons unspecified to do battle with unknown enemies in a labyrinth of metallic catwalks and narrow industrial hallways for the good of the universe! Like shooting with friends? Well your marine buddies are tough as nails and ready to pull the trigger by your side or throw you a medpack or two when you're hurting. Hell, they might even be nice and occasionally upgrade your weapons to make you an even deadlier, even faster, and even more brainless grunt than you were before! Oo-rah!

But don't fret you lead-happy jarhead, your fellow troops aren't going to finish off the alien menace before you get some time behind your plasma-spewing tools of inter-galactic death. Far from it! There'll be plenty of disgusting extraterrestrial filth for you to mop up with your deep-cleansing, armor-piercing rail gun (perfect for reaching those tough-to-reach bits of soft internals that will soon be splashed on the walls). In fact, there are so many Stroggy bastards just waiting to be thoroughly pummeled with your celestial arsenal that they'll literally be throwing themselves at you. See that empty room over there? Just walk right in and greet the welcoming party of 50 Strogg warriors that just can't wait to meet you. It's a rocket-lover's paradise!

Every good marine loves trudging hundreds of miles through the mud with a full pack of gear and leeches crawling around their genitals, but sometimes a good comfy seat is just what you need to catch your breath and remember why you're knee-deep in intestines and the hot lead of your enemy. To kill stuff, of course! Fortunately the Space Marines have the best seats of all: death-rolling vehicles with enough ammo to satisfy the tastes of any blood lusting, self-proclaimed god-dictator. Like mechs? We got em! Like hover-tanks? We got em! Or if you're too simple-minded to move around and shoot at the same time, just man the machine gun of a supply transporter and mow down the enemy while leaving the driving to your marine buddies. After you've caught your breath, hop back down to the dirt for some more grenade-launching punishment of the evil martian militia.

Those Strogg are ugly as sin but they do got some fancy do-dads and electro-bobs attached to their bodies. Jealous? Don't worry; you too can become a computerized, mechanized killing machine just like the enemy! One short Strogg procedure and you'll have cool glowing eyes and bionic limbs too! (Side effects of procedure may include intense pain, screaming, loss of legs, and complete compliance to the orders of alien overlords). Just make sure your marine buddies break you out of the facility before your brainchip is activated and you go on a killing spree (results not guaranteed).

Now now, don't worry your brainless head to pieces little marine. You'll be finishing off this war well before Christmas time. In fact, you'll be in and out in around 10 hours. But shoot straight and keep your eyes on the crosshairs, because the Strogg aren't sissy little flower children. Careless advances into enemy territory will have you hitting the dust faster than your pal Jerry can down a forty.

But before you rush to your recruiting office to sign up, take a minute to read the fine print:

Gameplay: 3. It's sad to say, but Quake 4 is little more than a glorified shooting gallery. Enemies come at you in waves and rarely use actual battle tactics to fight (aside from the Strogg marines, who will hide behind stuff… but it's easy to just run around to the other side and shoot them in the back of the head). The game tries to use a large number of enemies and distracting explosions to keep the player confused and the fighting intense. And to the game's credit, it does this well. Firefights are hectic and (if you have your speakers turned up), extremely loud. Getting enough lead out from the barrels of your weapons and into the faces of the enemy is always a struggle, as some enemies can take a whole Desert Storm's worth of artillery to the ass and still have enough life left to take yours. The game offers a nice array of weaponry and each weapon feels quite nice, but it's all over far too short before you really get the chance to get comfortable with the more powerful weapons. The package as a whole is well-done, but in the days of Half Life 2 and Far Cry changing the FPS front, a mindless shooter like this is just old news.

Control: 3. Standard FPS fare. Not a whole lot to say about it.

Story: 3. The cutscenes are nicely acted and animated but the story as a whole is just rather vague. A mindless story for a mindless shooter? It's like a match made in New Jersey.

Graphics: 4. Using the Doom 3 engine, it's no surprise that the game boasts some nice visuals. But unlike Doom 3, the ID team just didn't really do anything special with the graphics this time around. Environments lack the depth and dimension of the Doom 3 environments. Expect to see a lot of rusted metal and nondescript hallways, because the Strogg facilities are full of them. Stepping outside onto the surface just enhances the bland, as the alien surface resembles the lifeless plains of Mars. Despite the plain environments, the game chugs more than a locomotive even on lower settings.

Sound: 5. This is one thing the game does very well. Loud explosions, shells hitting the floor, bullets whizzing past your ears, and your fellow marines barking commands. It's a real battle.

Lifespan: 3. Since the game is so short and there's not much leeway on how you play through the game, most marines won't be coming back for a second tour of duty. There is multiplayer, but there is always a major lack of players online, making the feature virtually pointless.

FunFactor: 4. If you're just looking for a quick fix of shoot this and blow up that, Q4 should be able to quench that mindless thirst for scattering giblets around the ground. However if you're a gamer that enjoys thinking instead of finger-crippling action, the game won't satisfy much.

Lasting Impression (Independent Score): 3. A short campaign and lacking multiplayer cut the experience short before it starts rolling. In the end, the game is pretty forgettable.

Bottom line:

Despite bringing practically nothing new to the table aside from some pretty graphics, Quake 4 still manages to offer a nice run and gun experience with plenty of action and loud noises. However, it's just too little too late to make any sort of impact on an ever advancing genre, leaving it in the shadow of other more innovative titles.

3.6 out of 5.

Final score is an average of the seven above factors (excluding Lasting Impression).

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