The variety of objectives and the tendency of each side to be forced into the attack at least once per campaign keeps ETQW fresh despite its small number of maps. Not only are the objectives map-based but also mission-based. A player can spot a radar, a turret, or an artillery gun and create a mission to take it out. This results in XP points which go towards class upgrades. Generally speaking, itís always useful to go after mission objectives though an assault class attacking radar stations instead of placing explosives at the map objective is really a waste of effort.
The 30fps framerate cap is limited to singleplayer, but the multiplayer feels like itís playing at a low framerate as well. Whether itís the netcode or some other factor, thereís just something very rough about trying to shoot someone up close in Quake Wars. Compared to the generally smooth TF2, ETQW feels like it has a low pushrate setting and this tends to make close-quarters combat chaotic. Itís simply not a pleasure to get up close and personal on those maps that take the player deep into a building to achieve an objective, which is a real shame since the original Enemy Territory did a rather excellent job of keeping close quarters combat exciting.
The lack of polish continues past the low framerate. In the GUI menu, whether in limbo or in the server browser, the game continually reads inputs from my rudder pedals, joystick, or TrackIR and sets the mouse moving off on its own. This is a hold-over issue from Quake 4. Another Quake 4 favorite has to be the very slow and clumsy server browser. Not only is it slow to read servers in general, but it insists on checking the empty and bot-populated ones first. Not until 1000 servers have been scanned do you begin to see a list of servers that have actual players on them. Refreshing the server list is like engaging in a certain geek form of masochism, though thatís generally a term we reserve for the Battlefield series. How long can it take? How many servers will the browser scan before coming up with an actual populated one? Itís a game you can play, like licking a certain number of envelopes per hour, and then seeing if you can beat that record the next hour.
All these polish issues are a shame because they detract from what is truly an excellent game at its heart. While Team Fortress 2 will be the preferred title to just jump in for 15 minutes before work or dinner, it doesnít offer nearly the variety of gameplay and challenges that ETQW does. TF2 roles are rigidly defined, the maps are tiny and the battles impossibly similar. The TF2 learning curve seems steep at first but then levels off on a surprisingly low plateau. In Quake Wars, on the other hand, the number of options any character class has on most maps is staggering. What has a lock-on on your Cyclops heavy walker Ė is it a GDF soldier, an anti-vehicle turret, or a rocket launcher battery? Itís not always easy to tell. Knowing would help you decide whether to launch flares, back out of range, or bail out Ė and if you survive, what to do next. With few exceptions, Iíve yet to repeat an encounter the same way in ETQW.
Oh, and where are my voice comms?