I first played Enemy Territory: Quake Wars back when the PC version launched, but it failed to grasp my attention. I was probably too much into Call Of Duty 4 at the time. Now that the console versions have arrived, I took another dip in it.
Initial impressions are not too good. The controls are fine, but the overall feel is a bit… unconnected. The physics are floaty, the vehicles don’t handle too well, most of the weapons lack punch, your shots don’t really seem to connect, the explosions look lame, the voice acting is from an altogether different game (Tribes 2 comes to mind), the animation especially looks like it belongs in a bygone age.
I gave it the single-player campaign’s (if you can call twelve bot matches “a campaign”) worth of time and what do you know – after some ten or so rounds, amounting to maybe three hours in total, things clicked.
The premise is strong. I don’t know about the Strogg as an enemy, they seem like rejected concept art for Star Trek’s Borg, but kicking alien butt off-Earth has always been a sound base for entertainment. I also like the way the game is set in modern Earth, albeit with a scifi take. Again, kicking alien butt on contemporary Earth is where it’s at. The looks veer a bit too much on the brown side, but there is a better variety of brown than in many other modern shooters. They could’ve gone to town with some lush woods or something, though. The very well-designed props help matters quite a bit. The human side has a cool Aliens vibe to it, with functional look and feel.
Once you get your head around the multi-staged levels and the various classes, tactics come together at a rapid pace, following the distinct rhythm of the missions, with a build-up followed by a strong push taking place over usually three steps. (That is, unless the defenders fight back.) You’ll be placing turrets, ambushing enemy patrols and staging raids in no time. One thing I like is the way it tells you whether your current class can complete the current objective and whether your team already has the required class deployed (and if so, how many).
The game could use more players, as eight per side isn’t quite enough for the kind of warfare the game depicts. Regardless, the scale is pretty much spot on, leaving just enough room for vehicle maneuvering and blindsiding, yet keeping the approaches clear enough to be confident in staging your defenses. Vehicles and air drops keep the action feeling dynamic and bombastic enough.
I have rarely played a game with so much slow-burning appeal. After the very underwhelming first steps, I’m now looking forward to taking it online, as for up to now I’ve been learning the ropes with just bots. I don’t know about the online popularity though, as the game really requires you to put in some time before it connects.