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Old 04-02-2007, 06:46 AM   #1
bapenguin
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[PREVIEW] - Hands-On with Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars


Title: Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars
Platform: PC, XBox 360, PS3
Editor: James 'fitbabits' Young



Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars Hands-On Preview


“Serving as the prequel to id Software’s legendary QUAKE II, Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars is the ultimate online team and objective-based multiplayer experience. Set within the epic QUAKE universe in the year 2065, the game pits the Allied troops of the Global Defense Force (GDF) against a new Axis of Evil – the barbaric and technologically advanced Strogg - during their initial invasion of Earth.

Gamers choose to play as Human or Strogg in one of five unique character classes. Employing an arsenal of weapons, vehicles and deployable armaments, players engage in an action-packed test of skill and coordinated teamwork through a series of combat objectives. Persistent character growth and achievements reward players for teamwork, while clearly defined mission and class objectives guide new players to meaningful contributions on the battlefield.

In development at Splash Damage, co-creators of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and in conjunction with id Software, Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars employs id Software’s new MegaTexture graphics technology, delivering large outdoor battlefields of unrivaled detail. These lifelike recreations of real world environments are designed specifically for objective-based team combat and include realistic terrain, lighting, special effects and atmospheric conditions.”
– Splash Damage/id Software

It wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate to say that my previous experience with Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars (ET: QW) left me feeling just a little underwhelmed. I was last able to lay my hands on Activision’s next big thing at Quake-Con 2006, and while I was impressed with the scope and ambition of the title, I left the event feeling that some intangible ‘thing’ was missing…



Picture: Topology of Valley Map


Fast forward to March 28, 2007 and I’m seated in front of an absolutely beautiful Dell widescreen monitor with the title screen of ET: QW looking back at me. I’m apprehensive and just a little bit queasy after sampling my first monster flaming sambuca at dinner the night before.

Before the assembled masses are allowed to get their frag on, Paul Wedgwood (owner of Splash Damage and lead designer on ET: QW) grabs the mic and treats us to a very humble introduction and overview of what we’ll be playing through the day.

The first map we’ll be playing on is called Valley, which is part of the North American campaign, and the mission briefing is entirely dependent upon which side you choose to fight for – GDF or Strogg. While there is a mission structure to the maps, you can, if you feel like it, just ignore the mission and blast the crap out of the enemy using the array of weaponry and vehicles at your disposal. Of course, by doing so you’ll be limiting your enjoyment and sense of accomplishment when your team works together for a common goal. The sense of accomplishment really is that great! I whooped like a loon for the first time ever and high-fived people I’d never met before when I managed to blow up some underground sewer gates, which then let the rest of the team advance under cover. It was a small victory, however, as I soon got flattened by someone in a boat who was obviously in a hurry to join the fight. Thanks for that!

Before I delve into how the game actually plays, let’s look at weapon selection for both GDF and Strogg forces. It’s right on the money. The weight of your weapon is directly linked with the speed at which you traverse the map (at least on foot). Lighter weapons allow you to be fleeter of foot than the heavier ones, but the sacrifice is that your firepower is severely lessened. However, selecting something like a rocket launcher will lead to you almost crawling round the map, albeit with a more powerful arsenal at your disposal – all the better for taking out vehicles and gun emplacements. It’s an interesting way to approach weapon selection and it may lead to you thinking twice about which weapons to take with you when you spawn or respawn.

Gameplay, that elusive, yet vitally important component to any game was where I was most surprised, however. As mentioned earlier, my previous time with ET: QW was lacking for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. However, after playing the latest build, I can now say with confidence that the missing ingredient in the previous build was fun. Sure, it looked good and it played okay back at Quake-Con 2006, but I just didn’t have fun while I was playing it. Happily, that has been addressed in a major way as evidenced by the fact that I was rather irritated when it came time to leave the room to interview Kevin Cloud, co-owner of id Software and Creative Director on ET: QW. I mean, I was just about to blow those damn sewer gates wide open again – how inconsiderate.

Anyway, interview over (thanks, Kevin) it was time to venture forth once more into the preview room, this time to play a different map. Entitled Sewer and part of the Pacific campaign, I decided this time to play as the Strogg and the difference was evident from the start. My character was an ugly SOB and the weapon choices reflected the sinister nature of the Strogg race. Once again, the mission briefing is dependent upon which side you choose to fight on, and once again teamwork is key to getting the most enjoyment out of the game. At first you may be inclined to just run around like a headless chicken, but teamwork is immensely rewarding.

One thing I noticed while playing the second map was that my character grew in rank and stature the longer I played and the more I stuck to the mission. I wasn’t able to determine whether this character growth and development made any great impact in terms of gameplay, but being rewarded for being an integral part of my team was a welcome bonus, and one which made me oddly proud of my achievements.



Picture: Topology of Sewer Map

It was also while playing this map that I started to focus on the visual and audio component of the game. While the graphics on display likely won’t cause your jaw to hit the floor, the audio may just do that. Not that there’s anything “wrong” with the graphics, you understand. I would describe them as beautifully functional for the most part – the terrain textures are pretty nice, but the interior textures are a tad bland. Still, what can you expect from a bunker or pipeline? You’re not about to see Sistine Chapel-like canvases in a sewer, are you? As for the audio effects, they may well get looked over in favor of the graphics by some people, but believe me when I say that your immersion in the action would be lessened were it not for the stellar audio work. Weapons have a suitably coarse feel and sound and the many other vehicles and audio effects add a sense of true battlefield chaos. Explosions are going off left and right of you while vehicles zoom past either on the ground or in the air. It’s an impressive feat, to be sure, and the one that I was perhaps most taken aback by.

Time to break for lunch and seize the opportunity to sample some of that sunshine and fresh air stuff that comes highly recommended and seems to be all around us these days; except I spent my lunchtime eating salad and itching to return to the action. I was planning map routes and strategies while shoveling field greens in my gob, something I didn’t realize this until someone asked me what I thought of the game so far and I could only stare back blankly before forcing out a timid, “it’s cool.”

After lunch, I meandered down to the preview room and found myself a free computer. It was time to battle on the third map, Area 22, which is again part of the North American campaign. I sided with the GDF this time and decided to try out the many air transport options available to me. Controlling them was a whole lot harder than I anticipated - frustratingly so, in fact. That may well have been just me, though, because I was able to witness other people doing just fine while controlling the many airborne vehicles.

Once again, I had a total blast planning my route before heading out on to the battlefield, and then executing the plan when I got there. Not to mention blowing the snot out of everything in my way (and having my own snot blown out as well).



Picture: GDF Forces battle Strogg Tormentor Attack Craft

A few words about the maps I played before I summarize my experience. All three maps were sufficiently varied and very well laid out. I was able to approach each objective differently each time I respawned. The terrain and architecture are multifaceted and it’s easy to tell just by looking at a structure who it belongs to. Not all structures are destructible, though, which was a little disappointing. Also slightly vexatious was the fact that there wasn’t a lot of damage modeling taking place. For example, there were no craters or scorch marks left after firing a rocket or missile at a ground-based target. Similarly, some buildings appeared to be impervious to all that was thrown at them, yet it was possible to raze objective-specified buildings to the ground.

These are very minor complaints, though, when stacked against the mountain of fun one can have in this game. I approached this event hoping to be impressed, but I was not expecting to be blown away by what was on show. Sure, ET: QW may not win any awards for looks, but it’s looking like it will be able to clean up where the all-important gameplay is concerned. If you have a hankering for multiplayer shooters with more than a smidgen of thought thrown into the mix, then you can safely begin to look forward to the release of Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars – you will not be disappointed.

NOTE – I spoke to Kevin Cloud about the release schedule for the PC version versus the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions and he explained that each development team is on their own schedule and neither the developers nor publisher are under any pressure to release the console versions simultaneously with the PC version. So you can expect the PC version first (“probably” this year) and the console versions later (next year is likely).

Last edited by fitbabits; 04-02-2007 at 07:40 AM..
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Old 04-02-2007, 06:54 AM   #2
Gorvi
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I saw the trailer for this for the first time this weekend, and I'm actually really interested. It reminded me of Tribes for some reason. They need to hurry up with that PS3 version.

Very nice preview Fit!
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:10 AM   #3
Knightshade Dragon
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Embargo doesn't mean much for ya eh? Anyway, it would have been nice to meet up with you at the event. It's always nice to know who you are fragging.

Edit: Hey, were you the guy with the accent next to me during the interview??
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:12 AM   #4
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by Knightshade Dragon
Embargo doesn't mean much for ya eh? Anyway, it would have been nice to meet up with you at the event. It's always nice to know who you are fragging.
The embargo was till 9am EST today. I checked before posting...
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:13 AM   #5
Knightshade Dragon
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9:00am PST was what I was told. Been that way for every event I've been to. *shrug*
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:14 AM   #6
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So, it's like Quake you that you can play OUTSIDE?
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:15 AM   #7
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by Knightshade Dragon
9:00am PST was what I was told. Been that way for every event I've been to. *shrug*
I got this direct from Neil Wood:

Quote:
Please remember that the embargo for coverage and use of assets is Monday morning (9:00 am/EST)
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:18 AM   #8
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Thanks for the seriously good writeup. This game wend from being 'not on my radar' to one I am very interested in trying for myself.

I get more sound advice about gaming here on Evil Avatar than I get from all the reviews of all the magazines combined.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:19 AM   #9
Gorvi
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IGN has their previews posted as well, so I doubt it was 9 PST. Embargo talk is fun!
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:19 AM   #10
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So you can expect the PC version first (“probably” this year)



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Old 04-02-2007, 07:20 AM   #11
Knightshade Dragon
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Odd, but ok. Guess I'll post my coverage in a moment as well.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:25 AM   #12
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by Knightshade Dragon
Edit: Hey, were you the guy with the accent next to me during the interview??
I didn't hear my accent! I did, however, hear yours.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:31 AM   #13
Knightshade Dragon
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Originally Posted by fitbabits
I didn't hear my accent! I did, however, hear yours.
Hahha, good point. Glad to meet ya!

(Tom Chick was sure kickin ass at this game wasn't he?)
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:32 AM   #14
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by Knightshade Dragon
Hahha, good point. Glad to meet ya!

(Tom Chick was sure kickin ass at this game wasn't he?)
Yeah, he was. Not only that, he was taking names, addresses, social security numbers, etc.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:33 AM   #15
Knightshade Dragon
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Originally Posted by fitbabits
Yeah, he was. Not only that, he was taking names, addresses, social security numbers, etc.
I'm not too proud to say that I reached the rank of Captain in Teamkills. Guess the people I ran over might not all have been enemies...
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:36 AM   #16
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by Knightshade Dragon
I'm not too proud to say that I reached the rank of Captain in Teamkills. Guess the people I ran over might not all have been enemies...
Hey, you weren't the one in the speedboat who flattened me after I blew the sewer gates, were you?
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:37 AM   #17
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I can't wait for this one. Thanks Fit!
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:38 AM   #18
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Nice write-up. I am greatly looking forward to this, as I have yet to find an online shooter to take me away from RtCW, which has been out for quite some time. Hopefully, this will be the one.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:40 AM   #19
Knightshade Dragon
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Originally Posted by fitbabits
Hey, you weren't the one in the speedboat who flattened me after I blew the sewer gates, were you?
The Makron told me to...
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:42 AM   #20
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Can you guys stop talking about it? Please? It's making me cry a little bit. I would name my first born "id software" if I could play this game.
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