To be fair, it is the year 2065, and the merciless alien force known as the Strogg recently launched their invasion of Earth. The events unfolding before Splash Damage owner Paul Wedgwood and I form the precursor to the stories told in Quake II and Quake 4, when the GDF (Global Defense Force) attacked the planet Stroggos in retaliation for the war happening right now.
The current scenario concerns the Stroggs attempt to build a new facility with help from a DataBrain they set up in a building. GDF forces must overcome the enemys defenses, steal the DataBrain, and take it to a transmitter where GDF High Command can examine it. Each sides battle plan includes a variety of objectives that require different soldier classes. For example, GDF Covert Ops are needed when sneaking into a building, while Strogg Constructors can deploy defensive turrets that help secure an area. (See the sidebar, Asymmetrical Parity: The GDF and the Strogg, for more information.)
Wedgwood and I watch from the remains of a freeway overpass as the GDF troops work together to destroy the barricade that keeps them from accessing Strogg-held territory. While GDF soldiers try to get close enough to use their HE Charges on the barricade, Strogg aggressors swarm nearby buildings and open fire. Snipers on either side create havoc with well-placed shots, while GDF medics and Strogg technicians revive fallen teammates. When the GDF finally achieves their objective, they move on to the next one, forcing the Strogg to cobble together a new defensive scheme.
You dont have to fire a single shot and you can still be awarded best engineer, or best technician.- Paul Wedgwood, owner and lead game designer, Splash Damage
Suit Your Playing Style
This is like being in an action movie with your friends, remarks Wedgwood, whos also the lead game designer at Splash Damage. When you play together in a coordinated team, you get a distinct satisfaction from achieving your objective.
He notes that his team took Enemy Territory Quake Wars (ETQW) beyond your usual tactical first-person shooters including their previous effort, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory when we realized that people tired of knowing who has the most kills or who has captured the most flags. We wanted to reward those who coordinated the best team. Not everyone is a twitch shooter; lots of people want to play strategic and support roles.
The game takes a page from the world of role-playing games by giving you experience points for helping achieve objectives during a battle, such as the Mobile Command Post (MCP) that GDF troops are currently driving to the required spot so they can deploy it. Every time the Strogg disable the MCP, GDF engineers run over and repair it while their fellow soldiers defend them. Meanwhile, other forward-thinking GDF troops attempt to capture nearby offices that will serve as a spawn point in the future, thus cutting down the amount of time it takes redeployed forces to join the fight over the MCP.
You can pick a combat role that fits your playing style, Wedgwood observes. When you pursue your objectives, you dont have to fire a single shot and you can still be awarded best engineer, or best technician.
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When you play together in a coordinated team, you get a distinct satisfaction from achieving your objective.- Paul Wedgwood, owner and lead game designer, Splash Damage
He adds: You can always run around and just shoot opponents, if you really want to, but you wont gain many experience points, because the game wont reward you for that.
Even AI Players Know the Drill
The experience points you accumulate translate into better weapons and equipment, as well as increased abilities, such as the skill to wield two pistols simultaneously or better endurance while running with heavy weapons. While these rewards carry over to the next battle, they only last through a three-map campaign session at the most.
Even in single-player mode, computer-controlled combatants understand a large variety of objectives and know what they can earn when they achieve them, Wedgwood explains. Those players, known as bots, even go so far as to bark out commands and warnings during a battle, making them more than the target practice bots served as in many previous games.
Wedgwood says: They know how to best take advantage of whats happening around them, and what to do when circumstances change. They understand the best ways to use the tools in the game. New players will learn a lot from the bots, who are capable of playing like a high-level clan.
Dont Fly Too Close to the Artillery
We watch as the GDF penetrates the building where the Strogg houses the DataBrain. The last line of defense proves too fierce for them, with GDF soldiers succeeding in grabbing their prize only to be gunned down by Strogg troops lying in wait. Time runs out and the Strogg emerge victorious.
Wedgwood straps himself into his Icarus GravPack, a one-man Strogg vehicle that can fly short distances. I suppose a parachute was a poor choice, since I cant use it to leave. He points out a final highlight before he leaves: The battlefield as a whole is more interactive than it was in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. For example, in that game, when you called in an air strike, you just saw the explosion. In ETQW, you call it in and you see the aircraft fly overhead.
He flips a switch and the GravPack comes to life with a low hum. He bids me farewell and ascends into the gray sky. I figure I might as well settle in and watch the battle unfold again; maybe the GDF will succeed this time. Theyd certainly be wise to have their covert ops put on Strogg uniforms and literally walk right past the enemy.