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9 Reviews

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

The Strogg have come to destroy us all, and Steve Hogarty is leading the charge

There's a striking realisation to be made when playing Quake Wars - and one I think will appeal to people who suck at shooting things - when the constant, unrelenting beatings at the front line finally sink in.

It's that moment when you slump in your seat slightly, let out a long whine, and turn your monitor on and off in frustration at the fact that some people are inevitably better than you - but instead of simply despairing at the thought of parachuting back into the battle, you discover that Quake Wars isn't just one game, it's many.

TWO GAMES
Well, it's at least two games, anyway: one where you're actively fighting across the game's 12 maps, capturing objectives and pushing forward, and another where you're supporting and helping out behind the scenes.

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Each map is made up of several, usually sequential mission objectives, which must be secured to ensure victory. Depending on which side you're on - the earth-loving GDF or the people-hating Strogg - you'll be attacking or defending these objectives. That's fairly straightforward if you've played the original Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, or at least vaguely familiar if you've played Unreal Tournament's Assault mode.

In fact, if you're a fan of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, just swap Nazis for Strogg and Hitlers for Makrons in your imagination and you'll have a basic understanding of what's going on here.

What's impressive, however, is what else the map offers in terms of tactical options outside of the current main objective (which is where most of the dying happens). On the limbo screen, when choosing from one of the game's five classes, the mission-critical class is highlighted with a star. That is, if the objective needs to be blown up, only a Soldier with a high-explosive charge can carry it out. If the objective needs to be hacked, only Covert Ops can do the job.

I CAN HELP TOO
It was then, as now, that I abandoned the Soldier class, deciding I didn't have what it takes to storm the objective. Instead I jumped into the Engineer class, and tapped the M key to see a list of available missions. These are mini-objectives set by my team-mates - requests for repairs or construction.

Once I'd chosen one, I set to work with my magical pliers, building guard towers, creeping around the outskirts of the map to avoid the conflict, deploying anti-personnel turrets (whose kills counted as my own), and repairing our radar. Death wasn't as frequent as on the front line, and every mission I carried out was genuinely assisting my team.

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It didn't feel like I was hunting down XP either (XP essentially being the game's scoring system) - rather it felt like I was supporting for the sake of our combined victory. And best of all, the scoreboard reflected this - I'd jump up four or five places after a successful trip around the map repairing broken things.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory nailed this way back. It didn't have the superb mission system, or the ability to use deployables to assist your team, but it did have a wonderful and ubiquitous sense of communism. Players used teamwork to get things done, and willingly helped one another out for the greater good.

That ideology never really spread to games like Battlefield 2, in which it felt like even medics were out for themselves, reviving you only to get their own pins and medals. Quake Wars can, at the very least, disguise the actions of greedy players as beautiful, rosy altruism, and it feels every bit as selfless as the original.

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