The first time I got my hands on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory I was quite surprised to see an on-line shooter that had depth and was so appealing because of it. It added a series of improvements to the genre, by adding team play and tactical decisions to a known title, and it was free on top of that. Encouraged by their success, Splash Damage are now back with a spiritual sequel, a commercial release this time around, taking advantage of new technologies and ideas to bring us back into the Quake universe.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars combines the tactical decisions of Wolfenstein: ET with the ability to control vehicles from the Battlefield series, and also adds a spoon of asymmetrical game play to the mix. Unlike the two titles mentioned above, in Quake Wars the differences between the two sides are much more pronounced, going far beyond different uniform and voices, all leading to a respectable variety and a new experience for each game session.
A short cinematic introduces us to the story, which is actually a prequel to the ones in Quake 2 and Quake 4: an alien race called Strogg has invaded Earth, and the only force that stands in its way is the GDF (Global Defense Force). However, as a multiplayer oriented game, Quake Wars doesn’t have a single-player campaign, so the multiplayer matches take place inside a number of “campaigns”, each consisting of up to three missions with specific objective, all spiced up with a short story to give it some flavor. Both sides will have objectives to fulfill, which may be offensive or defensive, depending on the map and team, and in order to achieve those objectives, careful coordination between the five classes available is needed, because at the end of the day it’s irrelevant which player has achieved the most kills, but which side has completed its objectives.
As mentioned, five classes are available for play, each with strong points and weaknesses much like Team Fortress, but in Quake Wars the choice you make has a deeper impact because how each player makes use of his class will decide the winner. Generally speaking, there are no class restrictions, as each player can choose whatever pleases him or fits his style better. This is where we can see firsthand the asymmetrical style implemented by Splash Damage.
The GDF Soldier and the Strogg Aggressor are the regular cannon fodder in any self-respecting army. They have the widest array of weapons at their disposal, from the regular sub-machine gun to the rocket launcher. They are also the only ones who can plant explosive devices at the key-objectives, if needed.
Should you choose to play a Medic or a Technician, note that there’s an important difference between the two sides regarding how health is designed. The GDF Medic can hand-out med packs that heal allies, but for the Strogg things are a little different, as health and ammunition are combined in a single element, called Stroyent. The Technician can drop Stroyent packs that refill both health and ammunition, a useful thing for any Strogg player, which on top of that can transfer points from ammo to health and vice versa, with a small loss in the process.
The Medic can also deploy a supply crate for his allies to freshen up, but the Technician can do something even better: he has the ability to infest the body of a fallen enemy with a creepy worm, which will enable any ally to spawn in the place of the miserable cadaver. Given the fact that the spawn locations are some distance away from the fighting, some interesting tactics can be employed; the nasty worm can only be destroyed by the Medic with the defibrillator pads, which aren’t that harmless; in fact, it’s considered the ultimate insult to be killed with those. Also, both paramedics can revive fallen comrades, but in the case of the Technician the process is not instantaneous.