And how to succeed in Quake Wars? Well, there’s a lot to be done, that’s for sure. Levels are laid out with one team defending a series of objectives and the other pressing the attack. First you may need to prevent the GDF from building a bridge, and then continually disable a vehicle to prevent it from reaching a certain point, and then if it reaches that point, stop the GDF from hacking into your shield system, and then if that fails stop them from planting explosives to destroy a factory of yours. However, all the while, there are defense turrets to build or disable and spawn points to liberate and build. There’s a constant flurry of goals to accomplish and classes to play to turn the tide of the battle at the right time. This is team play in the truest sense. A team that doesn’t spread itself across the right classes and hit on all cylinders finds itself in trouble fast.
As you play and complete objectives, you gain experience points that raise your rank in the game. The more experience and rank, the more abilities you can unlock. Maybe you lock on faster with the rocket launcher now, or you sprint faster (useful!) or you don’t make a sound as you sneak around behind enemy lines. These abilities not only expand the gameplay, but they also provide the meat and potatoes of the hardcore gamer, with a tangible result for their hard-won victories and hours spent in the field. Persistent stat-keeping ensures that your exploits will be recorded for the world to review, as well.
Quake Wars is Intel-only (sorry PPC Faithful) and performed surprisingly well on my MacBook Pro. I sprung for some extra RAM, but with a 2.33 GHz Core 2, 3GB of RAM and integrated video I was pleased to note that when I hit “Auto-Detect” on the graphics settings it went right to “High”. That put a grin on my face, I assure you. You may want to tweak your settings for maximum frame-rate, but Quake Wars runs good while it looks good. And, Laptop Gaming Gods be praised, it runs without the DVD in the drive. Bueno.
But what of multiplayer, you ask? Well, as of this writing (happening the day after the beta discs were mailed out to me by Aspyr) the PC version released its 1.2 version patch, effectively locking out Mac clients from playing on PC servers until a Mac patch can fix the issue. However, bot-play versus the computer is so authentic that, minus the lack of text-chatter and voice-talk (alas, no built in voice chat client for the game), I wouldn’t be able to tell I wasn’t on-line. There’s a convenient in-game menu that allows you to quickly pick voice commands to call out to your team, making everyone feel pretty alive. The bots will also talk their fair share of trash. It’s wacky to run about and hear Strogg voices calling out “So owned!”
Once the game has gone gold for Mac, though, the server issues should be ironed out and it just takes once glance at the server list via the PC demo to see that there is a raging on-line community already for Quake Wars. Mac gamers will have some catching up to do in achievements, but I have faith that you’ll pull it together.