image: qwWell here it is, verging on three weeks later than previously expected the TosspoT ET:Quakewars review!

If you want to read reviews about megatextures and megabits go elsewhere, there are a thousand of those type of reviews out there about that and they constantly remind me I need an upgrade, I can sum up that part of this review in just a couple of words: Get a new computer. Done, the fact of the matter is this is a review for those that will see this lovely looking game once and then config it down to Quake 3! I’ll be approaching this review as a player who lost years to RTCW and ET aswell as flings with Counter Strike, Quake, CoD and is now looking for a new love.

When you load an ID Sofware game you instantly have expectations, expectations of quality aswell as preconceptions on what you’ll be able to do. If you want to be an ID Software game, you’d better be good! Their legacy has shaped FPS gaming as we know it today and this is another Carmack game. His specific signature comes in the shape of the megatexture that we’ve heard so much about, but most importantly in the quality.

I’ve been inundated with the same question, “Is it more like ET or more like Battlefield?” I’m of the opinion that liking any game to Battlefield is an insult, and I certainly am not going to insult Quakewars just yet! However looking at what people mean by the question, the answer is actually neither. When you title your game with two previously successful brands, ET and Quake, people are going to anticipate something that they’ve already seen before, however the fact is this game goes off on its own tangent and forges its own playing field.

It is the RTCW like objectives that move the game instantly away from the Battlefield argument. Yes, the pig ignorant will retort with a comment about the vehicles but I’ll get to that in a minute. RTCW and ET are built on unique objective based gameplay, its what takes it above CTF as a teamplay orientated game. Multiple objectives, requiring different outputs of classes and requiring dynamites and document running its impossible to do it alone. As a player the learning curve is steep and filled with variations, as a team the learning curve is even higher but it’s a captivating learn, especially if you’re a new player. Quakewars is no different, the objectives are diverse and if anything they’ve improved the realism of the objectives through the storyline and improved graphics.

So let me put one fear to rest, as gameplay goes its as diverse as Wolfenstein ever was. But what about the vehicles? They’re certainly too big of a factor to ignore even if SplashDamage owner Locki admitted he wouldn’t be surprised if clans removed them.

Its true that if you run head to head with a tank you’re not going to last long, The point and shoot simplicity of the tanks mighty canon certainly means you’re in trouble if your position is given away. For the purist, its going to be a big ask for you to instantly customise to this. It doesn’t matter how many Quakecon’s you’ve won that tank canon will kill you, but it does matter how many Quakecon’s you’ve won as to whether you’re in any danger from that tank. The maps are built in such a fashion that the battle can take place in many places and from many angles, some often not accessible to the tank. Just like the panzer in Wolfenstein, in you're running through the trenches on Beach you're a prime target, but less so if you're in the upper base.

Taking the map sewer as an example, the Allied (GDF) tank is there more as an effective counter to the Strogg walker. This mech warrior, not too dissimilar to Planetsides Battle Frame Robotics (Yes someone does still play that game!) is equal to the tank in terms of you the lone medic; don’t want to get in its way.

The game is built through checks and balances, Sewer for example, the tanks and walkers can only help you so much. The two key objectives are free from the heavy weaponary, even if on the first one they can get mighty close. The spawn points are pretty well covered from heavy weaponry that doesn’t fly and if you want to, you really could fight a public battle all on your own avoiding both your teams and your opponents vehicles, it just wouldn’t be very objective based.

The flying vehicles are an art form. Flying really is not as easy as it looks, nor as easy as it was in Battlefield and flying was possibly the only thing I liked about Battlefield. However a good pilot can do a lot of damage, not because its weapons are over powered but because if you shake your plane like a spitfire you can make yourself a very hard target.

The Strogg are equipped with these jetpack like vehicles that deploy strogg bombs which aren’t hugely effective, however their manoeuvrability is quite refreshing. These little buggers can jetpack to gain height for about 10 seconds before needing to recharge which doesn’t take long. However if you’re effective you can get in, do some damage and get out before anyone can track you. I really don’t know what to think of them, they are very lightweight not offering much resistance and not offering a lot of firepower, however if used well you make yourself very hard to hit. They’re both a lot of fun and a pretty innovative vehicle, as far as pc gaming vehicles go.

If you’re an old RTCW fart like myself, one of the early complaints about vanilla ET was that the sniper was dead. Well, fear not the sniper is back baby and it is great fun once again. Putting it into perspective with RTCW, it perhaps doesn’t have the range on the scope that you might be used to. Remember that on RTCW Assault you could hit the communications tower from behind the flag, here the scoped view limits you but if you gamble with your shot the bullet does have the range. How powerful? 1 headshot, 1 kill, plain and simple.

If you’re a lover of the panzerfaust then look away now. Because now the rocket launcher is really an anti tank weapon, not an instrument of genocide like it was in RTCW. It was cut down in ET from its position as a tactical nuke in RTCW, the oohs and ahh’s of a 3 man kill in RTCW soon became the ooh’s and ahh’s of a 2 man kill in ET. Well, this former panzer wont be ooh’ing or ahh’ing at the one man kills. Your opponents need to be more tightly packed than a bus full of migrant workers to hit the money shot and this upsets me. Its countered with its new targeting function for vehicles which is definitely required to balance out the heavy units.

It is class warfare, it is built around the same principles that made RTCW and ET so popular, your 5 basic classes (medic, field op, engineer, covert op and soldier) all play the same role that they have done now for six years. Use them well and you will win, sure the battlefield has changed and sure there are new ways of doing things but the principal is there for all to see.

Now though its time to look at the parts that only the clan player is going to be bothered about, that very personal question, how does it feel?

Well, it doesn’t feel like the good ol’ Quake 3 engine anymore, those days are well and truly gone. The Quake 3 engine allowed a freedom of movement that could make even the fattest gamer feel like a lean gazelle. The modified Doom 3 or Quake 4 engine, well its true in Quake 4 at least you do feel like you’re carrying a few extra pounds. In Quakewars the movement does feel a touch more brisk than in Quake4. The more people seem to work with this engine the better it gets, but as someone that has lived off Quake 3 engine games for so long, there is some work needed to get used to the engine.

Strafe jumping is very different, your second jump gives you just a little acceleration, after that point it is about using the map to give you speed. That in itself takes some time to master, there are many bumps and divots in the ground that you can land in on in correct angles to generate speed. Many outside objectives are underneath slopes or hills to allow the attacking soldiers the chance to gain some speed when coming from spawn, all in all it’s a very different method of picking up the speed.

If you run in a straight line in RTCW and run in a straight line ET:QW your speed is probably about the same, however there is a big noticeable difference that you’re on a ‘fatter’ game engine. I’m sure a technical wizard could come in and say the engine is not fatter it’s just bigger boned, but the truth is feeling fat isn’t great.

That fat feeling continues into the weapons fire and the duals. Describing the feeling of a 1on1 is very difficult, but in Quakewars that 1on1 adrenaline rush is hard to achieve because getting outta the way of your opponent and coming back for more is a little sluggish, it can often be too much of a case of who sees who first being the killer blow in the duel.

All in all the biggest drawbacks to the game come from being used to something for so long and perhaps just wanting that again. That’s never going to happen and with a good old slog at Quakewars you begin to get used to being fat, the more I play it, the more I enjoy it and that’s a very good sign and I’m also sure when I upgrade I will enjoy it even more as the lack of frames from my laptop is annoying.

The game itself? Its excellent, it’s a brilliantly crafted game that has thought of a lot of a lot to please both new and old players. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be both popular and long lasting. There is a lot to do and there’s still that immense teamplay dynamic that keeps you engrossed in clan wars. For me I’ve been waiting for a game to get stuck into once again and finally it has come. Its got it all, it is the next step for Wolfenstein fans its just a case finding the right way to approach it so that you’re ready for something that is going to come from left field.