On that topic, choosing the right class is also less hassle, as you're always aware of which class is required to complete your team's next objective thanks to big green ticks and red crosses, and your map shows objectives marked with icons representing the class required for them. You can also see how many players on your team are already playing as that class, which should prevent the entire squad deploying as engineers to reconstruct a single emplacement.
Smoothing the hill
Showing you exactly what classes can do things, taking out the need to shuffle through a toolbox to achieve anything, and making your team's progress and upcoming objectives clear at all times basically makes the game vastly more player-friendly than its original PC incarnation. The addition of a simple training mission, in which you're tutored through the basics of playing Enemy Territory-style games, is the icing on the cake. Curiously, though, it will only be in the 360 version, having been developed by Nerve exclusively for that version. No equivalent mission will make it into Underground's PS3 port - although aside from that, and an odd quirk where the 360 version allows in-mission saves in single-player, but the PS3 version doesn't, the two platform versions should be functionally identical.
In terms of how they stack up against the PC version, the game certainly looks good - not up to the standard of recent online hit Call of Duty 4, admittedly, but Quake Wars provides enormous, rolling landscapes, tons of vehicles and huge deployable turrets by way of compensation, which seems more than fair. "Both the Xbox and the PS3 look better than the PC game on the recommended spec system," explains id's Steve Nix. "So you always know you're going to have a really high level of visual fidelity when you play on consoles." Admittedly, the game will still look better on a high-end PC ("there's no console out there that's as powerful as a God machine right now, with a Quad-Core and a GeForce 8800 - it's very hard for any console to compete with that," says Nix), but few gamers are going to have any major problem with the graphics in Quake Wars' console version.
Speaking of Call of Duty 4, one interesting aspect of Quake Wars is that like COD4, it boasts a levelling-up mechanism. In Quake Wars, you level up your abilities in each class as you play; this has been simplified in the console versions to remove weapon and vehicle levelling, and you now just get those abilities automatically as you level up your classes. However, the proficiencies you gain from these levels - like more ammo or health, or faster regeneration of class-specific items - don't last forever. Instead, they reset every time you start a new campaign, and as campaigns are only three matches long, that means you'll never keep your competitive advantage for longer than three battles. "We didn't want players to advance, then for new players to come online and get beaten up by all these experienced players with better abilities," says Nix. "Every time you turn the console on, it's a level playing field."
Not that there won't be plenty for the OCD-sufferers out there to concern themselves with. As well as tracking the standard suite of persistent statistics on Xbox Live, both the 360 and PS3 versions of the game will have 56 rankings for players to advance through - and an incredibly elaborate and detailed set of statistics, tracking almost a thousand variables, will be accessible at the game's website.
This could well be something rare - a console port we like better than the PC original. As well as being a near-perfect conversion in graphics, AI and feature-set terms, the tweaks introduced for console players look like they're actually going to improve the underlying game. Look forward to waging war on the Strogg (or on the pitiful human wretches) in the coming months.