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  Quake 4 preview

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During E3 2005, a lot of people waited in line to watch the Quake 4 demo that ended up being a live gameplay session conducted by some of Ravenís designers and programmers. After having a closer look to the game, and a brief chat with one of Activision reps, we bring you our preview of Quake 4, so you can know a bit more of what to expect when the game is released by the end of this year (not official yet).

A few people expressed concern about Raven Software working on the project instead of id Software.  What many people don't realize is that Raven has been working with id for a number of years, and it is doubtful that id would just randomly pick a company to help develop Quake 4.  Raven has released heavily acclaimed titles such as Heretic (1994), Hexen II (1997), Soldier of Fortune (2000), Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002), and Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix (2002).  For a full list of the titles that Raven Software has worked on, please look at Raven's official site.

The Quake series is undoubtedly one of the most popular in the first-person-shooter (FPS) genre ever. The first iteration of the series is considered by many the father of multiplayer deathmatch also, so itís no surprise that as we get closer to the estimated release date, more people are talking about Quake 4 and the game's potential. The expectations for the new game are set extremely high and we are just as excited to see how well id Software and Raven Software will work together to deliver the latest installment of Quake.

Letís remember for a second that Quake III was developed as a multiplayer-oriented game, and Doom III, the latest game to be developed in-house by id, was supposedly set to bring back single-player action to its titles, that did not happen for many quality-wise, at least.

Quake 4 is a true sequel for Quake II, and gamers will play as a marine named Matthew Kane, a member of a military unit called the Rhino Squad.  This should seem odd for people that played the first three Quake games, because this is the first time that we know the name of the character we are playing.  The marines are supposed to be securing and cleaning up the planet Stroggos, which is the home planet of the Strogg aliens.

Kane doesn't have a pleasant landing on Stroggos, because his dropship is hit by the Strogg.  The game then begins as Kane comes to during the middle of a firefight where the person who revived him gets shot in the head.  It is an interesting start to the game as you are put in action almost immediately.

One of the most talked about aspects of the Quake 4 demo was about the Strogg, which aren't known for humane treatment of marine prisoners, and this is clearly evident part way through the game.  Kane's unit is completely devastated and he ends up being captured.  The game cuts to Kane waking up on a conveyer belt that leads victims through a process which "stroggifies" the soldiers.  Players get to watch, in first-person mode, as the marine ahead of Kane gets his legs sawed off and replaced with Strogg parts.

Luckily for Kane, though, he is rescued by a squad of marines before a computer chip is placed into his head, which means he is now partially a Strogg but still a human marine.  Kane becomes a valuable asset to the marines because he is now physically stronger and faster than a human.

During the presentation, it was also mentioned that Kane will venture through a lot of the game with companions, which is something certainly new for the series.  It will be interesting to see how well original Quake players adjust to this change.
Because Quake 4 isn't supposed to be something like a Soldier of Fortune game, Raven supposedly is making sure that any interaction between Kane and his squad mates is fast and easy.

Since the game is built off of the Doom 3 engine, immediate similarities could be seen between the two.  Creeping down some of the corridors in Quake 4 is nerve-wrecking and players can't really be sure where a Strogg may be hiding, much like Doom 3. Raven seems to be doing a good job using the Doom 3 engine to their full-advantage, further enhancing it as well, although the people at Activision didn't want to go into too many details about some of the changes that have been made.  Another obvious difference between the two games is that there will be open, outdoor spaces in Quake 4, instead of just dark and frightening hallways.

Some of the common criticisms of Doom 3 have been fixed for Quake 4.  Unlike Doom 3, reading from a journal or unlocking some secret cabinets won't be necessary.  And, yes, id Software has learned from previous mistakes, and has made sure that a flashlight and weapon can be equipped at the same time.

Vehicles in the game include a hover tank and a mechanized walker, which looked like fun vehicles to control.  Watching the Raven engineer control the walker to kill Strogg looked enjoyable, and will just be another aspect to the game that people should look forward to.

Something that a lot of people are curious about is the multiplayer capabilities of Quake 4.  Gamers are going to demand multiplayer action that is nothing like Doom 3 and more like Quake II or Quake III.  So far details are scarce, however it was mentioned that vehicles will only be available for single-player action.

Kane should have a wide variety of weapons in his arsenal to help him destroy Strogg enemies.  People that played Quake II may remember weapons such as the machinegun and hyperblaster, those along with the railgun should make a triumphant return to Quake 4.  In the other hand, a lot of people, especially those looking forward the multiplayer action are not too keen on a return of the BFG.  Quake 4 will supposedly have a "super weapon", but we aren't really sure what that means.

Finally, something that I noticed while watching the demo was that people who don't know any previous storyline from the first two games don't really need to go back as Quake 4 starts off interestingly enough where a new player can just come along and begin the journey to victory.

I certainly believe experienced developers like id and Raven Software can deal with the pressure of releasing a potential blockbuster game, and hope that they deliver something that gamers will want play in the years to come. From what I saw, the single player looks brilliant, but Iím still anxiously waiting to see what has been prepared with the multiplayer, it better be good, whenever itís done.


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