Sometimes, very rarely a 3D shooter playes better on a console than it does on a PC. Well, it's not one of those times. As a matter of fact for those who have played a PC version of Quake 4, playing it on Xbox 360 will be a huge step down. Surely the HDTV graphics are there and overall the game looks similar to the PC version, but controls are again the weakest link here.
Well, since the opening was about the "bad parts" of the game, let's go ahead and get though them before we get to the "good ones".
Having played Quake 4 on PC, and deciding to be a hot shot by start the Xbox 360's verion right away on the "corporal" difficulty, I quickly realized how bad of an idea that was. Aiming is certainly something that takes a good time to get used to with a controller. But even after about 5 hours I was still no where near good at locking into enemies and strafe dodging shots as I was on a PC after only 10 minutes of play.
Surely by switching to the "private" difficulty I was able to get though the game with a relative ease but the excitement wasn't there. All underminded by the fact that 3D shooters are meant to be played with a keyboard and a mouse.
The graphics in this game while not "Half-Life 2" realism like, are certainly pretty. And if you enjoy watching people get cut in half with saws, you will certainly appreciate all the character, textures, particle effects (yes, blood) and lighting quality of this game. (On the same note, if you enjoy it TOO much, you may want to see a doctor *wink*).
The problem, however, lies in the inconsistent FPS (Frames Per Second). Many times FPS plunge into low teen numbers, making the game a slide show for a few seconds. It wouldn't have been a problem if that happend every now and then but frames don't stay consistent for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Combined with already hard to work with targeting system, it can bring pure hell in certain situations and quickly lead to death. Which then leads to perhaps the last big problem in the game - long "loading" times. Loading times can last in excess of 30 seconds. And although they don't appear often if you progress though the game (about once every 30 minutes), they can become enormously irratating if you keep dieing. In situations where it takes more than simply shooting at the enemy (usually boss fights), it may lead to situations of running into a room, getting nailed with one hit and looking at "loading" screen. It can test a patience of those who are not sure what they are doing and die in seconds only to look at spinning Quake logo for half a minute, over and over.
On the good side, however, the game is a well made 3D shooter from the point of level designs, overall graphics, and a relatively deep storyline for a what most would consider "mindless shooter". The story is easy to get into: Stroggs are continuing the fight against the human race. So as one of the marines you get dropped off on their planet to show them who the boss is. The missions are the ones that tell you story from a "brotherhood" military point perspective. You know that the war is going on, but inside the game it's more about surviving together with fellow marines. Assigned to the squad, you constantly on the move to help others, and AI (CPU controlled NPCs) do a surprisingly good job helping you as well. Which certainly takes away the feeling many other shooters give you that you are actually "baby sitting" the NPCs instead of working as a team.
Through out the game you get to know quite a few peronalities and spend most of the game fighting along side of them. Never knowing who will live and who will die. It isn't until you get deeper inside enemy bases that makes you understand why this game deserves a strong "M" rating. The images of graphical torture of captured fellow marines, blood and gore are everywhere. But what can you expect from a complex called "Strogg's Medical Facility"?
The level and environemt designs are good, but at times can get a bit seamless. And the fact that many missions force you going back and forth though same rooms - certainly doesn't help. But it isn't significanly de-valueing the game overall.
There is a good choice of weapons in the game that get modified through out the game for a bigger punch. And there are a number of vehicles available for the use through out the short missions (usually outside). It seems fun but certainly nothing you haven't aleady seen before in other 3D shooters.
Multiplayer is pretty good and certainly adds a good amount of fun to the game. However, Xbox 360's version suffers from the same problems mentioned above. Where things like precise controls play bigger role than they do in a campaign mode. Making a PC version truly shine and leaving 360's version in the dust.
Overall, this game is an almost perfect example of what you would expect from "big hitter" companies like Raven Software and Id Software. But I wish they had taken a slight risk and tried to add something new to the game to spice it up and make it stick out from the rest.
PC version of this game strongly deserves 4.5 our of 5 stars. Xbox 360 version, however, is proabably somewhere in between of 3.5 and 4 stars out of 5. Mostly due to problems mentioned in the beginning of this review. One thing can be guaranteed is that you will have a blast playing it if you are into linear Gory, and Bloody 3D "twitch" shooters. The only suggestion here is to get the game for a PC if you have a powerful enough computer. If you don't, you will still have a blast on Xbox 360. Just probably not as a big one.