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Enemy Territory: More Of This Sort Of Thing

Bearded ETQW development boss Paul Wedgwood has just mailed to remind y'all that the 1.2 update for ETQW is imminent. It will include a bunch of balancing changes, UI tweaks, bot-bolstering, and lovely in-game voice-comms stuff.

And being a forgetful type, I've only just remembered that my Enemy Territory: Quake Wars review has gone online over at PC Gamer UK. In it I discuss how the game isn't just Battlefield with Strogg, and how I feel it lacks some of the nail-biting this-way-that-way tension of games which have symmetrical objectives. I don't talk about the totally awesome Slipgate level, however. So I might do that now.

Read on for thoughts and stuff.

Say what you like about ETQW's achievements in the multiplayer death-game arena, but you can't fault it's awesome level design. Sure, some of the objectives cause gnawing of hands and raising of shrill nerd voices, but they're nonetheless filled with detail and tweaked beyond all measure. Take Slipgate: you expect to be able to jump through that gap in the first village wall on a quad bike, and you can. Every single time. All of ETQW's levels work. That crew of gamers Splash Damage had say in a back room testing this game over, and over, and over again really have done their job. Every problem has been ironed out, and every grand idea for level design has been realised. This is what the extra months of development allowed the team to achieve: unique maps that are more than just arenas for fighting - they're architecture for gameplay, far more like a single player game's fluid channels than the multiplayer battle-boxes we're so used to.

But it's not the level of polish that I'm concerned with here - it's the great big gulps of ambition. Slipgate is probably the most notable level in that department. It starts you off in an African village, where the fighting revolves around the GDF hackers trying to get their electronic mitts on the giant swirly orange vortex machine. Once hacked you can leap in and jump from this:

To this:

The first time I saw it I knew it was going to be one of my favourite things about ETQW. And it's thanks to Slipgate that this is the first time I've reviewed a multiplayer game and honestly worried about spoilers. As much as I want to say: "crikey readers, that Slipgate level is a bit of top clever, expecially when you X and Y", I didn't want to spoil the surprise for anyone who played it through for the first time.

Of course it's not much of a surprise when you've played through the same level two dozen times, but I nevertheless still anticipate the level each time it comes up on the map rotation. It's far from my favourite level for enjoying focused battle-frenzy, but I still get a twinge of awe when you whoosh through the portal and onto another continent.

It's not another continent, of course, it's simply a second zone of the map hidden but parallel to the first, but the sort of idea that it demonstrates still makes me want to show it to everyone: this is the kind of thing we should be doing with our games. Even this simple teleport transition from one environment to another is a thrilling example of the kind of reality-bending foolery that games could, and should, be providing us with at every turn. It's the kind of thing I want and expect games to deliver. It's out of the ordinary, and I want More Of This Sort Of Thing.

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