Friday, May 30, 2008

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

So why did I just post about a five-year-old PC game that I don't play anymore in my Xbox-centric blog? It seemed like good background for introducing my next game, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

This game was completely off my radar. When I heard that some Geezers were looking into it, I was completely uninterested. Although it did have "Enemy Territory" in the name, I didn't connect it with my previous hobby. After all, despite being from the same publisher, Wolfenstein and Quake are very different games. But when a couple brave Geezers picked it up and started talking about it, it caught my attention. They talked about Engineers and Covert Ops and calling in air strikes, and I started to realize: This is Enemy Territory. So, despite their somewhat negative reviews (which seemed to revolve around being unfamiliar with the game and having some difficulty picking up on the mechanics), I went out and bought a copy and joined them that night.

Being a W:ET veteran, I found it very easy to jump right in to ET:QW. The basics are all there, with the same five classes with very similar abilities as before. However, one thing that stands out right away is that the objectives are no longer focused on the Engineer with such myoptic tunnel vision. While yes, there is a lot for the Engineer to do — things must be built, and escorting a tank could take numerous repairs as it gets repeatedly stopped by the enemy — objectives in general have been spread across other classes as well. Planting explosives is now the duty of the Soldier (although it still takes an Engineer to disarm), and there are "hacking" objectives that belong to the Covert Ops class. And to give you a little guided boost, when you're selecting your class, the game indicates which class is required to accomplish the next objective.

Also new to ET:QW is AI. Whereas W:ET required human players, ET:QW will fill out the teams with bots. And, as an added bonus, when it comes to man-to-man combat, they're halfway decent. (Friendly AI does seem to have a problem with vehicles, though, whether controlling friendly or eliminating enemy.) AI medics also seem eager to heal, sometimes not even waiting for a request before dropping a medkit on you (or rushing at you with a pair of electrically-charged paddles). AI Field Ops sometimes take a little nudging to get them to give out some ammo, but eventually, they, too, will help out.

The environment is very different, of course. Instead of Axis vs. Allies, you have humans vs. aliens. To go with that, the weapons and equipment have been vastly upgraded from their 1940s representatives. Engineers can now deploy auto anti-personnel and anti-vehicle turrets, and their landmines arm themselves and only trigger when an enemy approaches. Covert Ops carry PDAs that, in addition to performing hacking functions (completing objectives and disabling the aforementioned turrets), perform the disguise function using some sophisticated holographic projection, instead of physically stealing a uniform — very useful in that it doesn't leave a half-naked body behind. ;)

The way they did weapon/equipment cycling, I found took a minute to get used to, but very handy. Weapons cycle on the right bumper, and equipment on the left. You still only hold one thing at a time — if you're placing a mine, you're not holding a gun — but because they're on different buttons, and because equipment can take time to deploy, it does make it convenient. More than once, I had a mine waiting to deploy, and an enemy approached. It was always a single right-bumper tap to switch back to a gun, instead of, say, rotating through all available equipment to cycle back to guns.

The game definitely moves faster than W:ET. There is a very strong aim assist function that I dare say almost makes it too easy to shoot, but at the speeds at which players moved, it was most welcome, especially on those rare (and they were rare) occasions when the lag kicked in.

I definitely had a lot of fun with the game, and from what I can tell, so did my fellow Geezers, especially as they got to know the game a little better. I do admit, it was a lot easier for me, being so experienced with Enemy Territory from the Wolfenstein version. That's not to say there's not a lot for me to learn here — I still don't know what happens when you "level up" a class, as it doesn't seem to be immediately obvious; and although the game prompted me to use the alt fire of certain equipment, I couldn't figure out what happened when I did; just to name a couple unknowns — but I think it won't take long for those in unfamiliar territory (so to speak) to get up to speed, and hopefully we'll get a few more Geezers to take the plunge. After all, with this game, the more you have working together, the better it gets.

No comments: