REVIEW: Quake 4 (2005)

Don’t read too much into this, but this morning was the only time we could upload today’s episode. So if you didn’t have a satisfactory Christmas morning, here’s some feminism and carnage to make your day slightly more interesting…

“QUAKE 4” (2005)

OVERVIEW ► released in Q4 2005, “Quake 4” is a sci-fi military shooter, depicting humanity’s counterassault on the home planet of hostile aliens. the game was notable for being the first to license the id Tech 4 engine, first used in “Doom 3” to portray realistic lighting in videogames. chronologically, the game is the sequel to “Quake II”, part of a franchise known for raising the graphical bar with each new instalment. upon release, the game was praised for its visuals, but derided for failing to innovate beyond its cookie-cutter gameplay and narrative. ultimately, the game’s adherence to formula led to the franchise losing market dominance, thus allowing rival franchises to supplant it.

VISIBILITY ► for a game about humanity’s survival, women characters are oddly absent. apparently, women of the future are blasé about defending Earth. the entire human fleet appears to employ one female officer. her presence is limited to radio messages, with little bearing on the game’s plot. the only females visible in-game are hovering cyborgs who try to kill you. not the best message to send to potential female fans or buyers. even prior instalments like “Quake III: Arena” featured female characters, albeit often sexualised. “Quake 4” is a conspicuous step backward. where the game does shine is in depicting male characters. they hail from a range of backgrounds, as should be expected of a global war effort. such characters are shown to be more than background noise. as a squad-based shooter, the game depicts them as vital to humanity’s victory.

AGENCY ► though limited to male characters, the game makes a visible attempt to break stereotypes often seen in the gaming industry at the time. minority characters are portrayed as equally educated and combat-effective. some are depicted as doctors or engineers, a rarity in gaming. the first engineer encountered in-game is an Asian-American bloke (because of course), but he proves just as good at combat as his peers. whilst the game’s comic relief comes from a stereotypically cowardly European, even he is depicted as vital to humanity’s fate and victory. the game’s sole female character fares more poorly. her only visible presence is when hostiles destroy her dropship (and her thankless role). though it completely ignores the existence of women veterans, the game at least makes an effort to portray male characters in believable ways.

PROGRESS ► despite success in sales, the game’s failure to innovate contributed to an overall perception that the series was running out of fresh ideas. a more innovative follow-up called “Quake Wars” saw release in 2007, but proved unable to compete with new shooters like “Gears of War”. ironically, “Quake 4” paved the way for new sci-fi military shooters like “Gears of War”, the latter proving popular as it tried more new ideas. “Rage”, an attempt to build on the tech that powered “Quake 4”, saw release in 2011, but was again derided for lack of meaningful innovation. though the “Quake” franchise is currently moribund, some publishers have shown interest in reviving old id Tech properties, such as “Doom”. should “Quake” enjoy a reboot someday, it would be a chance for the franchise to prove its relevance to today’s modern, diverse gamers.

The game had fans in its day, but nowadays the franchise survives solely in the form of an online title even its supporters hate. The main reason we reviewed Quake 4 was frankly for its retrospective and nostalgic value – in an era of games that acknowledge women’s existence, games like Quake 4 seem positively antiquated. On the upside, it does boast some of the prettiest violence we’ve ever seen…

In our fourth and final episode, we’ll jump 8 years into the future and cover a game where a mistrustful black dude and a Chinese Harvard graduate must learn to cooperate to stop WWIII. But in the meantime, we’re already working on next year’s material. We’re committing the next 6 months to a feminist playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution – basically a feminist commentary on every level in the game, as we play from start to finish.

Forget how Human Revolution is one of the most ambitious titles ever developed. To our knowledge, no reputable YouTuber has ever done a feminist playthrough of any game, period. Here, some MRAs have done superior work – one of them even does detailed anti-feminist playthroughs of his favourite games, something you can’t help but admire when you realise how much effort and talent that requires, versus your average ranting fanatic uploading crap to YouTube.

Here’s a shot of what you can expect in 2016. For now, goodnight, good luck, and be one with the Force.


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3 comments for “REVIEW: Quake 4 (2005)

  1. ludlow22
    December 27, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Yay! DX:HR is a great game (though maybe not quite as superlative as the original); can’t wait to see what you come up with. One suggestion, if it’s not too late: get the Director’s Cut, because it fixes a number of flaws with the base game (and it shouldn’t be much more expensive this far from the original release).

    • December 27, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Yes! We’ve indeed settled on the director’s cut, though it does have well-known performance issues we’ve worked hard to resolve, before we start recording next year. (Most baffling is how the game actually runs better when we turn on our Shadowplay recorder. That’s like a car getting better mileage when it carries more people.)

      Next year’s videos will be much more conventional, consisting of spoken commentary over game footage, not just text. For these current videos, we’d originally chosen text so viewers can hear what in-game characters are saying, plus it requires less overhead (no microphones, acoustic treatment or editing). But honestly, I feel that with the exception of BuzzFeed’s text-driven videos, you can’t succeed on YouTube without a voiced personality — hence why we’re switching to a more conventional vlog format. We’ll see if it pays off…

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