Quake 4 originally launched alongside the Xbox360. Unsurprisingly, there was quite some amount of anticipation for the game. However, suggesting that this was merely due to it arriving as part of the Xbox 360 launch line-up would be tantamount to heresy. The title represented a further stage in both the Quake legacy and the DOOM 3 engine. Now, some 17 years later, Microsoft is giving the game a brand new test flight on PC. We’re not entirely sure why at this point, but there’s probably no better time to revisit the original release.

The game was announced for both the PC and Xbox 360 at E3 2005. It was assumed that the Xbox 360 version was being built from the ground up, as was seen with Quake and Quake II on the Nintendo 64. With the PC version having already been released by the time the Xbox 360 arrived, it’s easy to see why Quake 4 was quickly forgotten about as a first-person shooter in an overcrowded PC market. However, on the Xbox 360 it was an entirely different proposition. Despite launching some eight years after GoldenEye 007, FPS games were only just starting to hit it big on console.

Quake 4 screenshot

Quake 4 – Entering a New World

Jumping in, the training sequence of Quake 4 is deceptive. The game places you in a series of linked set-pieces distinctively reminiscent of both the Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty franchises of the time. You are pushed and shoved from one small event to the next without any really drastic change in pace. Fitting comfortably on the Xbox 360’s pad, the title demonstrated how clearly Microsoft understood the success of the genre. But more importantly, that which was yet to come. The LB and RB buttons are used for scrolling through weapons whilst the right trigger, as is commonplace today, fires said weapon.

As the story unfolds the play takes on a more erratic form. Flitting from tight, dark corridor-based sequences to wide-open arenas teeming with life. Occasional glimpses of sunlight break up the foreboding metal arrangements and create a pleasant distraction. Thankfully, this happens at the exact points when the atmosphere needs to let up a little. This is where Quake 4 shines: atmosphere. Considering DOOM 3‘s efforts to make more out of primitive hardware, Quake 4 uses dramatic sequences and lighting to hit home a startling reality of the universe in which Quake exists. And yet, this is all 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.

Establishing Dominance Over AI

The title’s later set-pieces are very well developed but highlight an issue plaguing the Xbox 360’s launch line-up, presumably due to the fact that the FPS genre is so reliant on AI. All of the enemies are very obviously scripted. They will repeat their exact movements through retry after retry. Even many of the enemy approaches are repeated time-and-time again. Perhaps this design was trying to evoke a sense of a collective training and thought procedure. However, it fails entirely and creates more of a sense of androgynously battling a series of flashy-looking stick figures.

For the time at which it arrived, Quake 4 was one of the prettiest looking games available on consoles. The enemies are animated well and the lighting effects were in-line with the highest quality releases from the previous generation. However, it’s certainly not the best example of the Xbox 360. Jarring and ragged, the opening sequence tells a tale of a game simply ported from its PC cousin as opposed to refined to the Xbox 360’s capabilities. In fact, with the exception of the Xbox Achievements, there was little evidence to suggest that porting team even knew what the console would become. And even then, the Achievements are only a repetition of the title’s unlockables.

Quake 4 screenshot

Quake 4 is a Mixed Bag, Yet Remains Enjoyable

Quake 4 offered a mixed argument for the worth of its release. As a member of the Quake heritage, there couldn’t be a more fitting sequel to Quake II. Quake 4 retains the feel whilst upping the atmosphere and action no-end. However, standing alone it’s somewhat disappointing. The game broke new ground for console FPS games visually, but the gameplay rarely attempted to cross the generational leap that was happening at the time. There were better FPS games released on the Xbox 360 within weeks of Quake 4‘s debut, which is not the same legacy its predecessors had. That being said, it was certainly interesting to revisit the title 17 years after launch. Exactly what Microsoft has planned for Quake 4 remains a mystery, but we’re certainly keen to find out.

Categories: Games