Quake 4 – Call of the Mutant [RETRO – 2005]

RETRO – It is the usual story: Earth has one last hope a hero who… pfff. No, the Quake franchise was never famous for its deep narrative, but instead had revolutionary FPS action. Raven Sofware wanted to please the fans, this time on both fronts…


I do not think there is a gamer under the son that would not associate the word Quake to the King of FPS games. The first game released in 1996 did not only have an unbelievably good engine, and scary atmosphere, but it was the game that everybody played against each other. The use of 3D technology was also thanks to ID Software’s newest game, which resulted in many clones of the FPS genre.

Quake became a meaning, and that was not reduced by the fact that the second game was not that great – when compared to the first. The height of the series was released in 1999, Quake 3: Arena – after this ID sat on their money pile until they decided to make Doom 3. Well Quake IV is an interesting sequel as the singleplayer experience is at the forefront of the game. The development was handled not by Carmack, but by the good guys and gals of Raven Software makers of Jedi Knight 2 and Soldiers of Fortune.

Resistance is futile!

Our protagonist is a soldier, Corporal Kane (Mortal Kombat rulez!….), who while is a well-written character, will still stay mute for the entire game, just like most of the FPS heroes. We get to control our hero in the middle of the counter attack against the Strogg. Our usual objectives against them are the trope-filled missions such as: Find the lost soldiers, blow up strategic complexes, or just get behind enemy lines

During our missions at times, three comrades will also help us: A simple soldier, a medic who restores our health, and a technician who restores our armor. This solution reminded me of the different parts from Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games. Luckily the soldiers of Quake 4 are less scripted than the previously mentioned games. So there can be times when the commander who is yelling the tactics to us, is getting shot. However he will not die only two levels later as that is how the character has been programmed. Which means that our comrades on the battlefield can die, and no medic will be able to revive them.

The soldier does not question the order. The soldier shoots

The action is much more intense, and brutal than Doom 3. More enemies attack us at once, from every direction, and there is barely a breather between the action. Quake IV is more complicated than ID’s old games, and we have to use cover better. Positioning is also the key to surviving certain encounters. Although I did not like that, the levels were, even more, linear and lacked the usual creativity.

Besides a few puzzle sections progressing through levels does not require too much of our brain cells: Most locked levels will be opened not by keys or cards, but rather a scripted event (enemy busts through the door). It would have been great to have the ability to mark where we are as the corridors all look the same, and when the objective is „go back to the base k thx” you can end up lost.

Industrial visual orgasm

Luckily the visuals of the space base and the entire game’s graphics are first class: Raven did what they could to bring out the best out of id’s original engine. The rooms both small and big, corridors, halls are full of machinery, screens, bridges and huge assembly line. Quake IV’s post-industrial style is more interesting and diverse than Doom 3’s style. The environment and the color palette is also more colorful compared to Doom 3.

Raven tried pretty much everything to distance themselves from the „ blood-soaked secret lab” feeling, but still some of the locations at times reminded me of Doom 3. Luckily most of them are not like that and in fact, there are outside locations finally to kill some aliens. These are large sections and not tiny sequences (unlike in Doom 3): We do not have to fear of choking as the game takes place in an oxygen rich filled planet. The outdoor levels are enormous, and fairly well detailed, but Halo still looks better in certain sections

Human stew – Ala Strogg

However, we definitely cannot claim that Quake IV is tame, as it entirely features brutal and cruel tortures. While hell was the main motif in Doom 3, in Quake IV we get to see the Strogg torture and kill captured humans. Raven did not let off: There are human torsos on the wall, the surgery tables are full of barely alive gutted soldiers, and I could keep on going with all the different ways the poor saps ended up. In one section our hero becomes a strogg… but I do not want to spoil it, and it is brutal once you see it! (Those who can endure heavier scenes should play through Quake IV).

Drop the beat

Quake IV is undoubtedly the best in sound effects, and special ambient noises. While the music is heard very little, the different rumbling, bleeping machines, and interfaces provide enough immersion so that we will not miss the music. The enemies scream at us from all sides – but only if we have a 5.1 sound system. The voice acting is also good, but that is natural especially when actors worked together with Raven.

The main character was voiced by Tom Cruise, who did an excellent job as he could be quite for the entire game (Joke). So yes there are problems with the game when it comes to this part. Why to bother emphasizing the main protagonist if he’s a mute again. Most of the times our hero just stands there acting dumb and deaf while the events unfold. It was really difficult immersing myself into the character if our character was just there as an avatar.

Stepping around with a walker

I forgot to mention that even though we have outside environments, we will not walk outside too much, but will use different vehicles. Do not think of Operation Flashpoint or Halo here, as we can only get into two types of vehicles: a tank and a Mechwarrior style walker. While this feature screams: it is only in there to pad out the game, it still can uplift the FPS sections. The tank/mech parts are even more linear compared to the rest of Quake IV. You can only go forward on a narrow road, and our armor regenerates if we chill a bit ( I do not know how armor regenerates, maybe there are 15 little R2D2’s fixing the thing before the mech falls apart).

All we have to do is just shoot, and wait until our defenses are recharged, and then we can move forward. A bit cheap in my opinion is the part where both vehicles have infinite ammo, and their physics are not the best,  especially after playing such games as Halo or Far Cry.

Artificially artificial

As Doom 3 did not have a revolutionary, and cunning AI, well the same is true for Quake IV… While we could say for Doom 3 that „they were just zombies what else were you expecting”… here we deal with aliens, so as a gamer I was expecting much more from the developers. Most of the times they just stand in front of Kane, and shoot at us, oh and they also can jump away when we shoot at them!

Regardless of this, the enemies are still tough to crack, simply because they attack us in larger numbers, and deal more damage compared to Doom 3’s monsters. The biggest difficulty was the unpredictable attacks that honestly – if you do not have a shotgun with you, almost nothing else can be done besides swearing – allowed the beast with blades on his hands to slice us up rather easily.

Bumm dead Strogg

The weapons are more in-depth than in Doom 3, especially thanks to the upgrades that are given to us throughout the game. The shotgun is much more powerful, but there is double barreled shotgun which is a shame since Doom 3’s expansion had it, so I have no idea why it was left out here. There’s also no alternative firing mode, just zooming in, and we cannot lean out from corners. The only way to avoid enemy fire is the good old strafing. The weapons are good in any situation, although the railgun is best used against heavy enemies or bosses.

Another new feature is what was lacking in Doom 3, the ability to carry a flashlight while having a weapon equipped (in Doom 3 this was not possible, so you had to switch around). While Quake IV is not chasing the pure horror ambiance, so this was the most rational solution. Speaking of horror, Quake IV has fewer locations that are covered in total darkness. Luckily the jump scares have been put away, but there are still occasional: I picked up an armor, well six enemies suddenly rush on me

Not a „Quake.”

In summary, Quake was fun, but sadly not a true earth shattering experience that the first game was to us. While the first Quake had a revolutionary engine compared to Doom, it is funny that Quake IV uses the same engine as Doom 3 – though it is undeniable that the engine is still capable of showing off great graphics

The issue is that I do not understand is that if Raven was focusing on singleplayer, and story why such a bland narrative was written? Although we do encounter and see some interesting twists (like the player becoming a strogg….), both the story and characters are uninteresting. Such a shame that if a well-designed graphics engine is in Quake IV, but we do not get a brilliant Sci-Fi story.

Luckily the intense, exciting, and bloody action and great ambiance can be enough for the fans of the genre, so those players should play Quake IV.



+ New and improved Doom 3 engine
+ Better action sequences
+ Great ambiance


– The game becomes boring once the half of it is completed
– Lame story
– A bit buggy

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Raven Software

Genre: FPS

Relase date: 2005

Quake 4

Gameplay - 8.4
Graphics (2005) - 8.7
Story - 6.9
Music/Audio - 9.2
Ambiance - 8.1



Raven Software did a fine job once again. This time, however, the game does become monotonous, and boring after a while.

User Rating: 4.65 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)