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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.6    CPU: G4 @ 1600 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Hard Disk: 3000 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM


Quake 4
May 30, 2006 | Bryan Clodfelter
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Graphics
It's difficult to tell if Quake 4 actually has any new graphical features over Doom III, or if the improved look is simply due to the fact that you're no longer wandering about in nearly complete darkness all of the time. Without a doubt, Quake 4 is the most graphically impressive game ever released on the Mac, but that doesn't mean that it is the best looking game on the market. While Quake 4 does sport some truly gorgeous environments (enhanced by dynamic lighting), it is important to note that there are other games out there that do a much better job of rendering human characters and shadows. While most of these discrepancies can be waved aside, the lack of variety in the human characters scattered about Stroggos is a significant shortcoming. To put it bluntly, except for hair and skin color, everyone looks the same. Regardless of their age or racial background, all of your teammates are the same height, sport the same generic build and chunky face, and have the same hairline. This similitude becomes especially apparent when you view a group of soldiers of different ethnicities in the same room. As a final complaint, most of the objects in Quake 4's varied environments look almost as if they were coated with a thick layer of matte plastic. Surfaces that should reflect light, like a metal wall with a flashlight pointed at it, are much too flat, which makes them look a bit fake. While these are all relatively minor issues given the overall beauty of the game, it was important to mention the issues for the benefit of the developers (and thus future games). Overall, Quake 4 is gorgeous; the dynamic lighting provided by the engine in conjunction with the abundance of flashing alert lights, hi-tech gadgetry, and fluid animation makes for some very distracting scenery. A word to the wise: if you're like me, you'll want to be sure to carefully clear each room of potential baddies before sightseeing. This is not Myst; carelessness is usually rewarded in Quake 4 with either a hail of white-hot nails or a large metal spike to the chest (not a pleasant thought)!

Sound
While the vast majority of the auditory experience provided by Quake 4 is fairly generic by today's standards, voice acting throughout the game is undeniably excellent. As you progress through the single-player campaign, you'll spend a significant amount of time interacting with your squad mates, and will likely come to recognize each character's distinctive voice and mannerisms more quickly than their facial features (which aren't as distinct). This sense of individual personality tends to make your forays over, around, and into Stroggos' many installations a more engrossing experience. Not only that, it motivates you to keep your squad mates alive, since you tend to become more attached to them as the game progresses.

Multiplayer
The weakest point of the Quake 4 experience is definitely the multiplayer aspect. Instead of promoting team-based tactical multiplayer (a logical step considering the singleplayer experience), Raven opted to merely copy Quake 3: Arena, almost to the letter. Weapons in multiplayer are streamlined so as to avoid reloading, maps were precisely copied from Q3A's library, and overall, every possible effort seems to have been made to recreate the vintage Q3A experience. Although the attempt to bring back this multiplayer classic with glitzier graphics is a nice idea, it tends to fall short on a few key fronts. First and foremost, while Raven did a nice job of recreating the frenzied action of Quake 4's predecessor, the feel of moving and jumping is distinctly off. Furthermore, in order to recreate the look and feel of Quake 3: Arena, every map is blasted with light, meaning that dynamic and specular lighting (the most significant graphical advances since Quake 3) simply go to waste. In essence, Quake 4 multiplayer looks a lot like Quake 3. Those two strikes against Quake 4's multiplayer, combined with the fact that Q3A's online community is still very much alive and kicking, fires the final nail into Quake 4's multiplayer's coffin. Although truly hard-core Quake 3: Arena fans and inexperienced gamers who have never played Quake 3 before may welcome Quake 4's slim list of graphical enhancements, I believe that most veteran gamers will wind up shunning Quake 4's stale multiplayer aspect and opt for a different game that offers a more modern online experience.

Last Words and Final Score
In all, Quake 4 is a blast. Combining top-notch graphics, squad-based tactical gunplay, a dark and engrossing story, and a grosser enemy, Quake 4's singleplayer shines. With the wide selection of interesting weapons (made even more "interesting" with powerful modifications), shootouts are fun to replay over and over again in order to find out how well certain weapon combinations work, or just to pound the crap out of the "squibs" over and over again. Gameplay is nicely broken up by the several instances of vehicular combat, and although those levels are very easy to beat, they provide some of the best action sequences in the game (and act as great tech demos to show off your Mac's capabilities). Although multiplayer will likely be something to be avoided by experienced Quakers, it does provide a brief period of nostalgia that should give gamers from all backgrounds something to do for at least an hour or so. To conclude, Quake 4 is a very well-rounded game (with the sole exception of the multiplayer), and deserves high marks across the board. It is also the first A-list title to be released as a Universal Binary, meaning that those lucky Intel-powered iMac and MacBook Pro owners can get in on the fun straight out of the box.



Quake 4
Publisher: Aspyr Media
Buy Quake 4 now at MacGameStore.com


Pages:123Gallery




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