Repeat after me: This is not a PC game... This is not a PC game... This is not a PC game. Okay, do you understand that this is not a PC game yet? Do you need to say it a few more times? Why am I saying this, you ask? Because even though I have always said that I do not use my PC for games, Voodoo 3 has changed my mind. I am addicted to Half-Life death matches and I just finished the single player version of Unreal. For those of you that do not play PC games and have never seen a Voodoo 3 card (or any of the new 3D cards for that matter) in action, you should be fine with Quake II. For those of you who are like me and are helpless against the powers of these above-mentioned PC games, you will find yourself repeating "remember, this is not a PC game".
Actually, Quake II is a PC game and this game is modeled after it. This version has new mission-based levels that are supposedly different from the PC game. Since I have not played the PC game (I'm waiting for Quake III), I can only trust that this game is different. For those of you that have not heard of the Quake games before, they are traditional first person shooters, ala Doom. It is up to you to frag your way through a ton of missions by blasting everything in sight just trying to stay alive. If you are up for one of the more bloody games on the N64, read on.
The developer worked very closely with Id, the creators of the Quake series to ensure that the game represents the Quake name in a very positive light. For the most part they have succeeded. Even if you have not played any of the other quake games, you should quickly find yourself immersed in the worlds and looking to battle on. If it were not for a few minor issues, this would have been a really good game. As it stands now, it is still pretty fun with non-stop action.
I always wondered why it was that PC gamers seemed to hate console games but I now understand. First off, I must say that playing console games can be much harder than playing a PC game and that is very evident in this game. See, all PC games let you save your progress at any point throughout your mission. Most console games make you complete a mission before you are allowed to save. This never really bothered me before but I have really gotten used to saving at any time. Now I have to agree with the PC gamers in that this really sucks. I can't tell you haw many times in this game that I battled through the level only to get near the end and die. In a PC game, no big deal. You just reload from the last place you saved (I usually save after every confrontation). Not here. You have to start from the very beginning of the level and go through the same stuff that you have just gone through only to get back to the same place you died before. The idea of these games is to move forward and let the story grow. Playing through each level three times because you keep dying does not help anything except your frustration level. Trust me, there is nothing worse than playing a level for 30 minutes only to die and have to go through it all over again. Sometimes the motivation is just not there. This is why I think console games can be harder to finish than a PC game.
As long as we are getting the complaints out of the way first, I may as well get them all over with now. The other thing that bothered me about the game was the controls. Actually, this is not really fair. It is more the controller that is the problem. I just hate the damn N64 controller. You can customize your controls but there is just no way to physically change the controller itself. I died more times than I can remember just because I hit the wrong tiny yellow button. Very frustrating. One thing on the control front that was their fault was the occasional lag between pressing the trigger and the weapon actually shooting. This did not happen often but there were times that I would press the fire button and nothing would happen. Very lame.
Okay, enough of the bad stuff. Lets talk about the cool stuff in the game. First off, this is one bloody and gory game. There are blood splats all over, decapitations and cries of pain. I am so glad to see Nintendo loosen up on their kiddy games only policy. It is nice to see some adult oriented games finally making their way on to this system. I think that this is where the PSX really has a huge advantage on the N64. They have a large variety of games to suit gamers of all ages. I think Nintendo is finally doing a good job to lessen this gap. Anyway, there is not shortage of red stuff flying and splattering.
I actually enjoyed the mission-based concept that the game uses. Instead of just going along, battling your way to freedom or saving the world, you have specific missions that need to be accomplished. While the missions usually revolved around finding this item or activating that item, I still liked the fact that there were clear-cut objectives that would change quite often. I think this helped keep the game fresh because you never really knew what you were going to be asked to do next.
What first person shooter would be complete without a host of kick-ass weapons? You will not be disappointed with the arsenal of weapons you will encounter in this game. Early on in the game you will find the standard shotgun but the super shotgun is not too far behind. Both of these weapons pack some pretty decent firepower. From there, you will find the machine gun, chain gun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, hyper blaster, rail gun and the BFG 10K. There are not many wussy weapons as they all inflict some serious damage on the enemies. There is nothing that is quite as cool as using the BFG 10K. Trust me.
For all of you multi-player hounds out there, Quake II packs a few different options for your fragging pleasure. I personally don't like multi-player on consoles because you are on the same screen and all you have to do is look over and see what the other guy is doing (come on, don't tell me you never do that). But for those of you who still like it, here are your options. First, you have the standard death match. This is the good old faithful of multi-player gaming with eight different arenas to play in. Go out there and kick some ass and try to survive. The next mode available is called Fragteams. This is similar to the death match, only you can be on teams. You can play two on two, two on one, or three on one. Bottom line is that if they ain't on your team, start shooting. The third mode available is called Flagwars. This is basically capture the flag and the objective is to get your opponents flag and bring it back to your base without dying. Sounds easy enough, right? Right... Finally, there is Deathtag. This has you grabbing a flag and trying to keep a hold of it as long as you can. If you don't have the flag, try to kill the guy with the flag. The longer you hold the flag, the better your score.
Graphics and Audio
Remember what I told you at the beginning? This is not a PC game. It took me a while to adjust down my expectations of graphics. I have gotten so used to the like of Half-Life and Unreal that when I first started up this game, I was appalled by how bad it looked. Then I had to take a step back and remember that I was comparing two separate mediums and that was not fair to the N64 to compare it with Voodoo 3 on a PII-350. Once I reminded myself that this was not a PC game, I found the graphics to be pretty decent. The characters were a bit blocky and the blood splattering was unrealistic looking because it was too symmetrical (it looked like perfect circles of blood). Other than this, the worlds all looked pretty good. By the way, the game supports the RAM pak so if you don't have one already, I suggest you go out and pick one up. One last comment on the audio. I normally don't talk about audio unless it is really good or really bad and in this case, there was something that was bad. I was really disappointed in some of the sounds from the weapons. The machine gun in particular sounds like popcorn popping. It is hard to be a bad-ass when your gun sounds like jiffy-pop.
If you are big into first person shooters then you should enjoy this game. I think I had higher expectations because I know Id is renowned for awesome games. I wish it was possible to save in the middle of the missions (or at least have check points) because there was more than one occasion where I had to motivate myself to start a level over. I think people who enjoy multi-player on a console should have hours of fragging fun. Just remember to repeat "this is not a PC game" and you should be fine.
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Quake 2 Expands
Activision's imminent Quake 2 will use the Expansion Pak -- but not for hi-res graphics.
Developers Raster Productions reckon hi-res mode would slow the game down too much, especially in four-player. Instead, the 4Mb memory expansion will be used to enhance the existing graphics, adding more detailed textures, extra colours and a battery of real-time lighting effects.
Quake 2 is due out soon -- we should have a fully light-sourced review for you next issue!