First things first. If you are looking for the latest in advanced, tactical, high definition, hyper-AI extreme gameplay that will blow your socks off with its sheer technical wizardry, this may not be the game for you. However, if, like me, you like a good game, which doesn't require learning controls which fill a 300 page manual, and having fun at the same time, Quake 4 is a good bet.
The first thing you notice about Quake 4 is the overall feel. You really feel like you are dropped in the middle of a life-or-death war to save mankind. There are battles going on in the distance, people shouting from every corner, and a fulfilling storyline which grabs you by the scruff, and shakes you till its climax. Yes, deep like Farenheit it ain't, but still thoroughly engaging and with a few twists to keep you guessing. Its quite a pretty game too, with a real visceral feel to the Strogg facilities, and a sense of space outdoors. Whilst not looking as good as, say, GR:AW, if you only play games for the looks, you could miss out on some real gems.
Where Q4 scores big is in the gameplay. Whether sneaking about with a flashlight on your own in some Gigeresque nightmare, jumping at shadows, or defending a convoy of squadmates with your mounted cannon, this game is FUN. Maybe not a popular word nowadays, but fun nonetheless. You DO jump when a creature drops from the ceiling, you DO tiptoe round a corner slowly in case there is a Strogg tactical squad waiting to ambush you, and (in my case anyway) you do GRIN FROM EAR TO EAR throughout the whole campaign.
Which leads me to the much maligned frame rate drop. Personally, it took me about 4 hours of playing to even realise what reviewers were talking about. And the only time I did notice it was during hectic battles with four or five Strogg, at which point, I was focusing so strongly on what I was doing, I didn't realise it was happening. I only noticed it because I was looking for it.
But why only four stars? Because(and it nearly made me cry) there is no split screen multiplayer! Why oh why? Online play is fun, but nothing beats sitting round with three mates, screaming abuse at each other, or wallowing in the glory of a multikill! However, the online mode is good, if slightly lacking in depth compared to other online multiplayers.
So, to sum up, if you own a X360 to show off to your friends that you have a pretty machine, go buy something else. However, if you enjoy a good bit of fun (and let's face it, what other reason is there for a games console?) get Q4 today. Its fast, furious, atmospheric and a good way to waste a Sunday afternoon.
Oh, and it comes with the full version of Quake 2 on a bonus disc. Two good games for the price of one. What more could you want?