Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RtCW) was a bit of a milestone in gaming. Not only was it the return of a beloved First Person Shooter, but it also spawned a massively popular on-line multiplayer component. Axis and Allies squared off in epic battles with intense, objective-based gameplay focused on squads with differing class abilities. It was my first taste of Internet-play and FPS team gaming. And it was good.
Following on the heels of RtCW was Enemy Territory, developed by Splash Damage. The title was released as a freeware expansion to the original and, after the fashion of all things A-List and free, it made an impact of its own.
Here we are now, four years after Enemy Territory was released, awaiting the imminent release of a spiritual sequel: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Tied to another beloved gaming franchise (and one strong in on-line multiplayer roots), Splash Damage has rich material to work with. And while this is a preview and I’m not supposed to spout off with opinions (shhhhh… don’t tell), Splash Damage appears to have worked this material into spun gold.
The title works on the same formula as the previous Enemy Territory. The gamer can take on the role of either the infamous alien Strogg (think of the Borg on steroids with a grudge) or the human GDF forces. The Strogg need to assimilate life to sustain their own, and they’ve finally come to Earth, and the GDF needs to fight them off.
Each side consists of five soldier classes. They are (split GDF/Strogg for efficiency of space): Soldier/Aggresor (for heavy weapons and demolitions), Engineer/Constructor (for building, repairing and disarming), Medic/Technician (reviving and healing allies), Field Ops/Oppressor (deploys weapon systems and calls in support strikes) and Covert Ops/Infiltrator (snipers and hackers). Sure, the Strogg names are cooler, but they both accomplish much the same tasks.
There are nuances that separate the two groups. The Strogg Technicians can create spawn points out of the bodies of enemy troops, and Medics can call in air supply drops. Weapon behaviors vary across the two groups, as do vehicles. All in all, though, if you have the feel for one side, you’ll have it for the other.
These two groups can be played across a broad array of maps. There are four separate campaigns to be played (which are three maps strung together that take place in particular regions), objective based games (which are basically just single map missions taken from the campaign mode) on one of the maps and Stopwatch matches, which are based on each team trying to beat the other’s time to success.