GAME REVIEWS: Quake 4

Activision (Xbox 360)
Game •••• Graphics/Sound ••••
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em - then beat 'em. That's what you'll need to do to take on The Strogg, an alien race of cybernetic freaks made from the flesh and bones of their fallen foes. But if getting a booster shot makes your stomach turn, sit this one out. As space marine Matthew Kane, you'll witness the grisly procedure that transforms you into one of The Strogg. Strapped down to a table, you'll get stuck by giant needles, have body parts hacked off, and be retrofitted with mechanical appendages.

Quake 4 is beautiful in its own creepy way. As you blast your way through claustrophobic corridors (reminiscent of David Fincher's stylish Alien 3 sets), you'll hear your machine-gun fire ricochet off metal surfaces while shell casings rattle around on the floor behind you. And the game's harsh, rocky canyons resonate with atmospheric sounds. The voice-acting performances of Prison Break's Peter Stormare and company breathe life into your squadmates - so it's a shame that their dialogue is often muffled, leaving you to wonder what your next mission objective is. Still, Quake 4 is a helluva combo. Take the traditional first-person-shooter style of action from Quake II (that game, by the way, is included here in an HDTV-ready version on a bonus disc). Add the frantic, arena-based multiplayer mayhem from Quake III. Result? The best installment yet of the series.

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