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Above all, ET:QW comes across as the most downright entertaining game in its class. It's every bit as epic as Battlefield and every bit as packed with DIY action-movie moments, but it has a great gritty sci-fi feel and, surprisingly, a warm sense of humour. Only one thing spoils the experience, and that's the learning curve. With all those classes, all those objectives, all those vehicles and all those capabilities there is an awful lot to get your head around, and while the game tries to make things easier with context-sensitive action keys, the first hour or two of play can be a painful experience. Learning how to deploy and then target artillery or how to place and arm a demolition charge takes time, and even after many hours of play I'm still only half-expert in roughly half the classes.
Playing offline with bots will help - and the little critters are perfectly capable of giving you a challenge if you want some practice - but learning live on the battlefield is a fruitless task, and one that's growing more so as the rest of the player-base grows in skill and expertise. Arguably the best feature of the much-derided (and sometimes unfairly so) Shadowrun was that its developers had the sense to realise that it was a complex game. They sat down and put in a series of comprehensive tutorials that took you through the characters, their capabilities and their objectives. ET: QW is practically crying out for something similar.
This is a shame, as if any game had the potential to bring the Battlefield style of gameplay to the masses, this is it. It has the Quake name, the Quake style, the spectacle and the fast pace of play to do the job. I'd hate to see it become just another haven for the hardcore virtual trooper. So my advice would be to get in now while you have the chance. I've played a lot of online blasters in the last couple of years, but this one has given me more honest-to-goodness fun than most. For me, that makes it the best of its breed for the moment. The only thing that undermines its position is timing. With Call of Duty 4 and Team Fortress 2 on the way, both backed by strong single-player offerings, will ET: QW hold its place in the sun for long? Maybe, maybe not, but I can't see the servers emptying out on this one for some considerable time to come.
Not just a better looking battlefield game, but one which does much to redress the outstanding problems of poor teamwork in the genre. For now, the king of this particular hill.
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