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     " Quake 4 is a passable shooter that does most everything fine, it just doesn't do any of it with gusto... "

      Title: Quake 4 by Activision

      Format: PC Shooter

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Back during the meteoric rise of the FPS genre there were only three big boys on the block. There was Doom, there was Unreal, and there was Quake. So, with a new Doom out last year and another Unreal on the block for '07, it's no surprise that Quake has launched itself back to the forefront. But is it a triumphant return or the creepy old guy still hanging around the disco? Read on, my monkeys, and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: If nothing else Quake 4 is a pretty, pretty game. Carefully rendered in beautiful multi-layer pastels, it is a feast for the eyes to be certain. And while some might be a little turned off by the stylized approach to its textures and environments, it would be hard to argue that Quake 4 isn't working your poor little video card for all it's worth. That said, I was absolutely stunned at how well the game performs even on its minimum system specs. You may not get all the pretty bells and whistles, but even on an outdated machine you can still get some surprisingly solid performance. I do have to dock it a half a point, though, for the endless hallways it calls levels…because, dammit, we should be past the "endless corridors of the zombie infested space hulk", but other than that it's outstanding. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: Back in the day there was only three things to base your FPS review on: Graphics, AI, and Cool Weapons. Not surprisingly, back then each of the big three struggled valiantly to try and dominate as many of the categories as possible. Over a decade later much has changed, though unfortunately for Quake 4, not quite enough. Not that there is anything -wrong- with Quake 4, per se, but rather that it doesn't do anything to try and wow you on the modern videogame battlefield.
          Perhaps this was intentional, as in almost every way Quake 4 feels like a retro game. It is the same straight sci-fi corridors, the same marginally intelligent AI (that can be beaten by running in the right circles), the same overly-scripted linear gameplay, and the same old assortment of weapons.
          The problem is that our pallet, as gamers, has evolved so far since the days when all that was exciting. It's not that Quake 4 does anything bad, or wrong, it's just that everything…and I do mean EVERYTHING…it does has not only been done before, it's been done really, really well dozens of times before. We've seen the half-assed stoic soldier in a poorly defined human vs. aliens war before. We've seen the mindless "use the best gun" (which is the largest/last picked up gun) and blast it 'till it dies chum fest before. We've seen the stale assortment of weapons that include the requisite rocket launcher, mini-gun, lightning gun selections before. We've seen the moderately interesting vehicles that you get to pilot occasionally, and only in specific story elements/bonus levels before. And we've seen the charging monsters who will just run at you until either you die or it does.
          Which is not to say the game doesn't do it all decently, and in terms of a straight up shooter it's pretty damned solid. But when I can walk into a store and find this on the shelf next to a dozen other games that do all the same things well, but also have real anima-some quantifiable element that makes them unique gaming experiences, it seems as if the only reason they expect me to choose Quake is because of some very dated brand loyalty. 3 out of 5

      Story and Drama: If you've played a shooter in the last five years you know the story. You are a soldier with a mysterious past in a war against zombie aliens and, after making vain attempts to win the war single handedly, are turned into a super soldier who can in fact save the universe on your own. Hurray. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: As "vintage" as the rest of the game, Quake's multiplayer is a throwback to simpler times. Deathmatch, team death match, capture the flag, etc., all on old, small arena-style maps. Again, it's not that there's anything wrong with it all, but it's absolutely nothing you haven't seen eight million times before. 2.25 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       In the end Quake 4 is a passable shooter that does most everything fine, it just doesn't do any of it with gusto. Honestly, it feels a lot like someone went into your game library, grabbed any one of a dozen old shooters, gave them a graphical enema, and repackaged it as a sequel.

      The Good: Very pretty and runs well on a wide range of systems.

      The Bad: It should have a label that reads, "Warning: This Box Contains No Originality What-So-Ever."

      The Overall Ugly: You've been everywhere Quake 4 wants to take you many, many times before.

      What it's Worth: 20 bucks if you're in between shooters and are looking for something to play, or for nostalgia's sake.

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