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Have You Played... Quake IV?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

This is one of those HYPs where it's very much a question rather than a recommendation. Have you played it? Particularly, have you played it recently? It felt like such a disappointment at the time, but that was a time when we craved a 'proper' id game (even though id weren't making it) and the first new singleplayer Quake in almost a decade. To be given something so damned ordinary was crushing, especially so hot on the heels of the dispiriting Doom 3.

I couldn't bring myself to play it again now. I tried, I downloaded it ready, but this voice at the back of my head yelled "no, it's not worth it, life is too short, there is no need to redeem this game." So I stick with my 2005 opinion: a serviceable but plodding shooter which somehow made its big twist - you get transformed into a super-powered Strogg part way through the game - boring. BioShock would use this same concept so much more effectively just a few years later, because it focused on the sacrifice rather than the power of the transformation.

Yet I do remain oddly fond of Quake IV. In my last years of working for a magazine, a collective of old Quake III fans go together to play Q4 multiplayer every lunchtime, simply because it had maps we loved and we liked to see them wearing fancier skin. We knew it wasn't as good, that it didn't have that rollerskating-through-hell fluidity of Q3, but it felt like an excuse to go back without actually going backwards. Quake IV is so deeply, crushingly, ordinary, but through an accident of timing it was, for me, community. I can't hate it, even if it deserves it.

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