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With Quake III Arena, iD Software played a pioneering role in the development of the online FPS. Like its close contemporary, Unreal Tournament, it took the bold step of downplaying the single-player portion to the extent that it became little more than a warm-up. This was bad news for those without a local LANParty scene or a high-speed Internet connection, but at least it left the team to concentrate on building a superbly-balanced, competitive frag-fest. Since then, however, iD seems to have shied away from the genre. While the Unreal, Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises have upped the ante and transformed the scale of online warfare, Doom 3 and Quake 4 put the emphasis back on the single-player experience. You still got a multiplayer element, but one that concentrated purely on providing old-school deathmatch thrills.
Well, with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, iD Software and the Quake franchise are back innovating in the online gaming arena. Of course, as the title suggests the Quake heritage is only part of the picture. While ET: QW fits neatly into the existing Quake line-up, the lineage is really skin-deep, and beneath that skin it has more in common with the Enemy Territory stand-alone expansion that its developers, Splash Damage, put together for Wolfenstein back in 2003. Like that game, it's a class-based, objective-focused online FPS with a neatly integrated experience system. In fact, most of the central game mechanics are either imported wholesale or developed from the earlier game.
What has iD and the Quake connection brought to the party? Well, first of all an established setting and a familiar enemy that we've all come to know and sort-of love. Quake 4 first gave us the taste of the Strogg life, but Enemy Territory takes it to a whole new level. In fact, it's primarily the non-human team that gives the game a macabre flavour all its own. I know some of you will inevitable gravitate towards humanity's last hope, the Global Defence Force, but trust me - the Strogg are a hoot. Whether hopping around in jet-packs or converting enemy corpses into 'spawn hosts' - essentially a handy ad-hoc spawn point - you can't help but love the bio-mechanical monsters. They do the Makron proud.