The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 years were a hotbed of FPS gaming. Though the genre remains popular today, the single-player FPS games schedule has slowed to a trickle. Multiplayer is now where it’s at, but it wasn’t always this way. Back in 2005 and the launch of the Xbox 360, single-player FPS campaigns were becoming more-and-more popular. And with the launch of Quake 4 alongside the Xbox 360 we had the beginning of a new era.
Quaking in my Console
The opening sequence of Quake 4 is deceptive. Placing you in a setting of linked set-pieces distinctively reminiscent of both the early Medal of Honor and Call of Duty titles, you are pulled from one minor event to the next without any real change in pace. As the story unfolds, the play takes on a more erratic form. You’ll flit between tight, dark corridor-based sequences and wide-open arenas teeming with life. Occasional glimpses of sunlight break up the foreboding metal arrangements and create a pleasant distraction at the exact points when the atmosphere needs to let up a little. It’s all a little BioShock, but without the sheen of that yet-to-be-seen series.
But still, it’s here where Quake 4 shines: atmosphere. Quake 4 uses dramatic sequences and lighting to hit home a startling reality of the universe in which Quake exists, while retaining the feel of its bloodline predecessor, Quake II. The weaponry founds itself in the roots already woven into the series and feels right at home.
Bringing the Big Guns
The title’s later set-pieces are very well developed, but highlight an issue plaguing the Xbox 360’s launch line-up. All of the enemies obviously remain scripted – repeating their exact movements through retry-after-retry. Even many of the enemy approaches are repeated time-and-time again, perhaps trying to emote a sense of a collective training and thought procedure – but failing entirely and creating more of a sense of androgynous battling a series of flashy-looking stick figures.
Conversely with the atmosphere, it’s here where Quake 4 shows it’s age. The recent re-release of Quake II on modern consoles (as was also packaged with the original Xbox 360 release of Quake 4) has demonstrated how much boomer shooters. as they’ve come to be known, are essentially shooting galleries. Quake 4 does nothing to change this reputation. It’s demonstrably laboured in its efforts to deliver convincing enemies, failing more often than not.
Quake 4 Pushes the Xbox 360 Visuals
With the Xbox 360’s then groundbreaking horsepower, it’s not surprising that Quake 4 was one of the prettiest looking game of its time. However, it’s certainly not the best example of the Xbox 360 18 years on. The opening sequence demonstrates a straight port from PC to console. Not a title that had been adapted to make use of the console’s strengths.
Thus, Quake 4 is a confusing title. At the time of its release, it was a welcome release on both PC and as an addition to the Xbox 360 launch line-up. It was a part of the growth for the FPS genre on console, and rightfully so. However, 18 years later its undoubtedly creaking, perhaps more than many of its peers. There’s still value here for those invested in boomer shooters, and even reason to hope Quake goes on to receive the DOOM 2016 treatment.