For console gamers, many of the good things about Quake Wars also apply to Frontlines : Fuel of War, an underrated online shooter that made it onto consoles earlier this year. What you get is a moving, unified front with lots of action in the way of aircraft, vehicles, and ground troops that counter each other in a big rock-paper-scissors cycle. The game naturally funnels people into the same area on the map, making sure that even though the maps are large and the player count isn’t massive, you still get a lot of intense fighting. Quake Wars is a little rough around the edges and the presentation isn’t as slick compared to popular recent online shooters on the 360. Jumping into games isn’t quite as fast or easy either, but the depth of the action once you do get in is what sets this game apart.
All that being said, this is a no-frills port of a title that many PC gamers themselves just couldn’t really get into. It’s not a total mystery as to why Quake Wars didn’t capture its intended PC audience, and I’m pretty sure that when it comes to the 360, they probably still won’t find it. Most gamers want a nice simple learning curve, even if the game isn’t very deep once you get into it. And while it’s hard to fault this solid console port in any one area – the graphics are good if not great, the frame rate is solid, the online play works fine, and the action is intense – it’s just not quite as good overall as many other games out there. This was true on the PC when it was pitted against The Orange Box, and it will be on consoles when put up against titles like Call of Duty 4 or the ridiculously popular online play in Grand Theft Auto IV. Maybe it’s the lack of persistent perks that come from extended online play, maybe it’s just that the competition on the 360 recently has been really fierce, but Quake Wars just doesn’t feel right for this console-based audience. The learning curve is steep and while there are bots to play against, there is no dedicated single player campaign to play through. And those bots do stupid things often enough that you’ll find any kind of single player enjoyment tarnished or even ruined.
If you’re looking for a sci-fi action game with plenty of depth and great online play, you could do a lot worse than Quake Wars. If you’re looking for a strong narrative and interesting characters, go out and pick up Mass Effect or BioShock instead, as this game is almost entirely built around multiplayer. Oh, sure, you can play the campaign with bots, but it’s not going to wind up being very compelling. Get this one for its online action, which moves quickly and rewards those who have the skill and knowledge to play to the strengths of the many weapons and vehicles.