...and your feet are all twisted in the sheets...
You ever had one of those dreams? The kind where weird, seemingly random things keep happening to you? The whole thing has some sort of constant stream of [sub]consciousness to it, but not one that really matters. Then you wake up and go "well, that was interesting!". Thatís about how we felt when we FINALLY finished Quake 4 on the Xbox 360. Donít get us wrong, we liked it, it was for the most part "fun", but it just wasn't altogether there.
First we should tell you, having not played this on PC, we're speaking here about the Xbox 360 version exclusively. To our knowledge there is no difference in content, only the controls really differentiate the two. And weíve played Doom 3, albeit on the original Xbox not the PC, but we feel there are some valid comparisons/contrasts to be made. Just to let you know where weíre coming at this from.
So now, some background: This is Quake 4, but story wise, this is Quake 3, because Quake 3 was basically Quake 2 tournament, although it was called Arena, which made sense, but we digress. For those of you geriatric enough (like us) to have played Quake 2, it concluded, like video games used to before all this new fangled HALO 2/Half-Life 2 nonsense, with an ending. A good solid, "its over! go home" ending.
See basically there are these evil aliens called the Borg... err... Strog, whatever, and they are an amalgam of different alien races that have all been twisted into some pretty cool-ass mindless cyborg monsters of various shapes and sizes. And like all good "evil threats" they are trying to kill all of humanity. Now much like the Borg of Star Trek fame, the Strog possess a hive mind, sharing information across a vast network that connects them all. So the story goes, all of this fancy, Internet-like shenanigans, has to have some sort of central control right? Well yes and no. See at the end of Quake 2 you blew up, what was supposedly that central thing-a-ma-bob. But turns out, at the start of Quake 4, that wasnít really THE thing-a-ma-bob, and your new mission is to find the actual central do-jig and blow it the heck up!
Problem is, we canít help feeling the whole time that at this point in human history, maybe, just maybe, we have some giant space ship that we could wreck into said tower, I did mention it was a tower right, and end it all nice and easy like. Which for us at least, lends a sense of "why the heck are we doing this" to the whole thing. Now some might complain that itís a Quake game, its not Final Fantasy, the whole point is to just shoot things with big guns! To those people we say ďNU-UHĒ!
Now before this gets childish we should point at that the folks at Raven, the actual developer of this game (with over sight from id) did try very hard to add some sort of engaging storyline. Your squad mates and other characters re-appear throughout and the designers have really tried to instill some sort of concern for your teammates in you. Even going so far as to add little blurbs about how so-and-so likes to play chess and whatnot, during the loading screens. Sadly all of this is mostly for naught as even the main characters are animated in such a horridly lifeless manner that itís almost comical. This is in sharp contrast to the in-game cut-scenes, which on certain occasions are down right bitchin!
Now we might not have minded the iffy plot and terrible character development if the game didnít seem to drag on so. This is a fairly long game for an FPS, partially cause we may have died a few more times than average (protip: rockets in tight quarters = bad), but once we realized we could save whenever we liked (protip: save a lot!), things started to move along at a more reasonable rate. We would guesstimate that the average player would get about 15-20 hours worth of play time on normal, which in a game we care about might not even seem like enough, but in a game weíre trying to get through cause we want to write a moderately timely review, it got to be bothersome. And rest assured dear reader, SPOnG shall not review a story driven game until we have played it through till the bitter end. We do not half or even quarter ass it around here!
All of this goes back to what we were first banging on about. You know, that thing about the dream. Interesting things happen throughout. Some people die, some people miraculously make it, some of them you think you remember, some of them you're supposed to remember but don't. We blow up some cool stuff, but a lot of the time we donít even know why, and when all is finally said and done we kind of go, "huh, that was interesting".
Just so we are clear, before we move ahead, this in no way means we don't like or wouldn't recommend Quake4, so please read on SPOnG faithful as more pertinent information and sad attempts at humor await.