First Impressions: The class-based shooter genre will once again be shakin' all over.
Back in 2003, developer Splash Damage made a big, um, splash with Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory in more ways than one. At first, people snickered at how they must have screwed up the planned expansion pack to the phenomenal RTCW because the single player component was toasted and the multiplayer was released as a free standalone download. But the snickering stopped the instant gamers discovered just how damn fun
Simply put, RTCW: ET set the new standard for class-based multiplayer shooters. Since the primary objectives could only be completed by certain classes, players had to quickly learn how to play as a team rather than a collection of individuals ? and wow, it was a blast. For example, we all remember how we needed an Engineer to repair a bridge so our tank could cross a ravine, but he could only do that with the support of a Medic to keep him alive, a Field Ops to lay down suppressing fire and Soldiers to deal with enemies one on one. Now take that same intense team gameplay, put it in the Quake universe, and you can see why gamers are salivating at the upcoming spiritual sequel, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Storywise, the game is a prequel to Quake II as the determined Global Defense Force (GDF) struggle against the evil Strogg invasion of Earth. Similar to RTCW: ET, each side will battle in campaigns stretching across three to four maps, with the ultimate victor the team with the most wins at the end. However, the gameplay has changed from the linear ?complete objective A, then move on to objective B? to a more Battlefield-like style where you will have to capture territories as well as complete key objectives within those territories. To further promote teamwork, you will only be able to capture territories in a specific order, which will eliminate the ?lone wolf? Rambos from ignoring the team and going off on their own. The game currently supports 24 players on 12 maps featuring forest, desert, urban and other locales.
The ranking system from RTCW: ET is also being carried over. As you play across a campaign, you will earn experience based on your class and increase in rank, which will unlock enhanced abilities and improved weaponry. Ranks will carry over during the course of the campaign but reset for new games, which will help keep things fair for less experienced players.
Each side will have five classes, a nice number that keeps things simple yet varied. The GDF classes are:
Armed with a sniper rifle and silenced machine pistol, this class can also deploy a mobile radar station and a Third-Eye Camera Bomb that can be used to both spot enemies and deliver an explosive gift.
Although all classes are important, the Engineer is arguably the most valuable since he is the only one who can repair or sabotage turrets, vehicles, buildings and bridges, all of which will be necessary to complete objectives. He can also deploy defensive turrets and plant anti-personnel mines.
This class will keep his teammates armed by dispensing ammo packs. He can also deploy offensive turrets and call in artillery strikes.
Similar to his RTCW: ET predecessor, he is able to dispense health packs to heal wounded teammates and use a defibrillator to revive fallen comrades in the field.
This class will be the foundation of the team, capable of carrying an assault rifle, shotgun or rocket launcher. It is also the only class who can use HE high explosive charges, which are needed to destroy enemy buildings.
The Strogg have classes that are similar to their human counterparts, but are focused more on offense and feature unique alien attributes that add a cool twist to the gameplay:
This is the Strogg version of the Covert Ops who is armed with a sniper Rail Gun. He can deploy a flying explosive drone and use a teleporter to quickly jump from one location to another.
This is equivalent to the Engineer in most ways except for his ability to deploy Gravity Mines, which can act as proximity mines or be detonated by a laser trip wire. The best part is that only humans can trigger the mines. Nasty.
Similar to the Field Ops, this class can call in a devastating laser blast from an orbiting ship.
Contrary to the name, this is not the equivalent of the Engineer; rather, he is the Strogg ?medic?. The Strogg are similar to Star Trek's
Borg in that they assimilate human hosts with their horrifying bio-mechanical cybernetic technology. So instead of simply reviving fallen teammates, the Technician injects any dead human body with a Strogent Tool to infect it with Strogg technology and transform it into a new host for a dead teammate; this essentially means that any human body is a potential Strogg spawn point. Creepy. He can also drop Strogent Cells to boost both health and ammo.
This is the Strogg Soldier, armed with a Lacerator (assault rifle), Hyper Blaster, Nail Gun or Obliterator, and is the only one capable of using the Plasma charge needed to destroy buildings.
Both sides will also have several vehicles at their disposal, such as the GDF's Badger, an armored Hummer with a mounted machinegun and space for five soldiers; the Husky ATV; the Titan tank; and the Buffalo Transport, a VTOL aircraft that looks like a helicopter gunship without rotor blades, and is capable of carrying five troops. Strogg vehicles include the Desecrator Hover Tank, an insect-like tank with a huge rail cannon; the huge mech-like Goliath Heavy Walker tank; the Icarus jet pack; and the Hornet which, as its name suggests, is a quick wasp-like light aircraft armed with missiles and a plasma cannon. The most important vehicle for both sides will be the Mobile Command Post or MCP, a mobile operations base that is required to capture certain territories and destroy enemy fortifications with its powerful missiles.
The game is using a heavily updated version of the Quake 4/Doom 3 engine, so it's not surprising that the game looks absolutely stunning with a very intricate level of detail; from the creases in GDF uniforms to the creepy Strogg bio-technology implants, this is one beautiful showcase of id Software's powerful engine. Character animation is also very realistic, with nice little touches like how you can watch teammates reload their weapons or the medicine in the Medic's backpack deplete as he injects teammates.
One interesting feature is the ?megatexture? terrain technology. Instead of using the standard practice of repeating ground texture templates all over the map, the entire terrain is rendered as one huge texture. This not only has the benefit of eliminating ?fog? and other tricks to cover texture seams, it also allows the developers to utilize different terrain properties throughout the map, like giving you more traction when driving on roads than on dirt or snow. Regardless, one thing is for sure; the maps look fantastic, especially considering each one will be approximately a square kilometer in size. Nice.