The Mac conversion of Quake 4 has been a long time coming; if you’re a first-person shooter fan though, it’s been well worth the wait. The game has the highest production value of any first-person shooter we’ve seen since Doom 3 and terrific single-player gameplay. Unfortunately, the multiplayer modes left us a bit wanting.
The first three instalments of the Quake franchise had very little in common with each other. The first was a techno-gothic monster shooter; the second was a straight-up sci-fi action game; and the third was an arena-based multiplayer game. Quake 4 actually picks up the story of Quake 2: you return as a human space Marine assaulting the homeworld of the Strogg – these nasty cybernetic aliens look like Star Trek’s Borg on growth hormones.
The first-person gameplay of Quake 4 is impressive. While Doom 3 was prone to dark spots where you’d get ambushed by monsters, Quake 4 doesn’t fall into that trap. Most spots are well lit enough to see and when they aren’t, your weapons often have flashlights so you can see what you’re doing. Quake’s artificial intelligence seems to be lacking something. Pathfinding for non-player characters and bad guys alike often leaves them standing in dead ends or taking longer than they should to get to where they’re going. All too often, the Strogg just lay out in the open like statues waiting for you to mow them down.
Multiplayer in Quake 4 is okay, but not great. There’s a relative paucity of maps, and, with a few exceptions, the ones that are there aren’t particularly imaginative or well designed. These drawbacks are particularly surprising from a franchise that’s so well known for its outstanding multiplayer gaming until now.
As we mentioned, production quality is excellent. Quake 4’s graphics and sound are both absolutely top-notch, with pro voice acting and lots of interstitial sequences to break up the action and keep you involved in the story.
The game performs well, provided you have a Mac that can run it effectively. A Power Mac G4/1.67MHz or faster is mandatory, although Aspyr would rather see you run this game on a G5 or Intel-based Mac (excluding the Intel-based Mac mini, whose graphics aren’t up to snuff). And yes, Quake 4 ships as a Universal binary.
Ultimately, Quake 4 stands out from the crowd partly because of its own great execution and partly because it’s been built on the shoulders of giants. Regardless of its flaws, if you’re a first-person shooter enthusiast, this game should be on your must-buy list.