Quake and Quake II are more than just games on the PC-they're a religion for countless deathmatch devotees. But for console gamers, the Quake name has hardly achieved holy-moly status. The Saturn and N64 ports of the original Quake were adequate sure, but they were lacking in one key area: multiplayer. Activision is averting that particular mistake with Quake II for the N64. Developed by Raster Productions and approved by id Software, Quake II packs four multiplayer modes, and--unlike Midway's port of Quake--it supports four players.
As far as the single-player game goes. Quake II producer Marty Stratton explained, "We asked what do people like about the original and what they don't. Gamers really seemed to like the weapons and enemies." Consequently, the N64 version packs all the same enemies and weapons, including the rail gun and BFG.
The 19 single-player levels and seven deathmatch maps were designed by Rogue, who created the add-on levels for the second Quake II mission pack on the PC. Stratton explained that if you've played through the 39 levels of Quake II on the PC. some of the N64 version's environments may seem familiar. "Occasionally you'll see half a level or half a room that you'll recognize," he said, "but essentially all the levels have been redesigned. And of course all the levels have secrets like the PC version."
The developers gave Quake II a graphical facelift, too. All the textures have been retouched and rerendered in i6 Bit color, as opposed to the PC version's 8-Bit color palettes. The Expansion Pak adds some visual spark, too (see caption above). Still, a few sacrifices were made. Enemies have lost a few frames of animation, although they still duck and sidestep to dodge your fire. Your character's ability to duck has been taken out, too. No big deal, though; with the RAM Pak in place, Quake II looks even better than the hardware-accelerated PC version. Honest.
MANUFACTURER - Raster Productions THEME - ACTION NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4
Quake II DownloadsQuake II download
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.
Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief: Unlike previous console Doom and Quake ports, Quake M's multiplayer modes rock. I was a little worried when I played an earlier version, back when the frame-rate stuttered severely with four players and was just as choppy as Turok 2. No worries now. Four-player in Quake II--while by no means silky-smooth--is certainly smooth enough and very playable. You get just about all the modes you could want, too. Aside from the requisite Deathmatch and excellent team-play variations, Quake II packs a proper capture-the-flag Mode--the best reason to play this game with three friends. A cool kill-the-carrier-style Deathtag Mode rounds out the multiplayer options. The 10 Deathmatch maps are well-designed and just about the right size for four players. I only wish Quake II offered cooperative multiplayer play for the singleplayer game. Speaking of which, the 19-level one-player mode doesn't disappoint. Sure, the story is nonexistent, but the levels - many of them variations of the PC version's-are crammed with enough little objectives for plenty of mindless action. One big gripe: As in every past Doom and Quake port, you can't save during levels. So you're forced to restart levels again and again when you die, no matter how close you get to the level's end.
As a one-player game, Quake II is rather repetitive and pretty typical first-person shooter fare, despite the new home-exclusive stages. This game is strictly about the twitch action and simple puzzles (i-e.. it's no GoldenEye). The multiplayer, however, is great. Lots of modes and a decent frame-rate combine to make this the second best multiplayer FPS for the home consoles (after 007, of course). The BFGs in multiplayer are a bit too common though...
Quake II looks and plays beautifully (especially with the RAM Pak) but becomes annoyingly difficult due to a lack of save points. Games like this MUST have at least one save point in the middle of each level! Granted a number of the stages in Quake II are a bit smaller than you'd expect (thus making it easier to get to the end of the level w/o saving), but they can still be as frustrating as hell. No matter--the multiplayer modes ROCK!
This is considerably better than Midway's effort with the original Quake. It looks great, but it has some slight gameplay problems, the biggest of which is only being able to save between levels. This will result in tantrum-inducing frustration as you have to keep returning to the beginning of a level when you die. Crispin went a funny color several times. Multiplayer is great--it easily outshines Turok 2 in 4P play, though it still doesn't beat 007.
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!