Our heart beats ever faster as I you tiptoe past an ogre. Thanks to the ring of shadows, you are temporarily invisible to the dumb chainsaw-wielding, grenade-lobbing lout. Just before you turn the next corner in this labyrinthine castle, a hidden wall drops to reveal precious body armour.
However, this much-revered power-up is guarded by a sleeping fiend, so to get it you're going to have to reveal your location to all and sundry. Unfortunately, whilst you deliberate over the odds a decision is made for you, the ring of shadows slowly beginning to hum, indicating that it is about to expire. Ignoring the armour, you sprint down the corridor, your super nailgun at the ready. As the ring's magic fades, you shimmer into the view of an arachnid-like vore. The creature screams and launches a spiked ball at you, whilst you attempt to retaliate by perforating the hell-spawn with a barrage of nails.
The battle screams emanating from the pair of you wake the fiend from its sleep, who launches an attack from behind. Stepping to the side, you exchange weapons for the thunderbolt. The smell of ozone assails your nostrils as you fry both vore and fiend in an arc of blinding lightning.
Smiling smugly to yourself you continue on your journey, foolishly disregarding a shadowy recess in the wall to your left. You just have time to say a final prayer as your head is swiftly separated from your body. As it hits the floor your head rolls to the side allowing you a glimpse of the sword-wielding death knight who brought your quest to its gruesome end...
Hell On Wheels
It is surprising to think that Quake is almost two years old, as time has simply flown by since it debuted on the PC back in late 1996. Although it's taken this long to reach Nintendo's 64-bit wonder machine, id Software's magnum opus is well worth the wait. If you have never played Quake before (and you are in an increasing minority if you haven't) then you are in for a treat.
Playing Quake is like living a horror movie. The game simply gushes atmosphere from every slime-coated, ambient lighted, gothic architectural artery. To get the full benefit from this industry classic, it has to be played on a large screen TV, in a dimly lit room, with the ambient soundtrack of wails, groans, clanks and moans cranked up to the max. Although, that said, 64 Magazine in no way accepts responsibility for loss of sleep or soiled laundry as a result of these nerve-shattering playing conditions.
The plot of the game itself is simple, meaning that you don't have to even read the instructions before you sit down and play it. Put succinctly, you play the good guy; everyone you meet is the bad guy; you pick up weapons and ammo; use these to kill the bad guys and get to the end of the level; oh, and finally, don't get killed!
Oh, you want the game's 'real' story anyway? Basically, you are the top operative for a futuristic company who have recently developed the slipgate device. This handy little doohicky takes a leaf out of Star Trek's book, and can teleport people and objects from one place to another. However, an unknown enemy, codenamed Quake, has used their own version of the slipgate technology to teleport an unearthly army of soldiers into Earth installations.
Your mission, should you be daft used the slipgate within the complex's heart to launch a sneak attack. The slipgate is still tuned to Quake's dimension, and if you can get to it, you can take on Quake on its home turf. That's the aim of the first level; get through the installation alive, find the slipgate and begin your journey to Quake's dimension.
Simple, eh? Well, no. Although in some cases steaming into a pack of grunts with your shotgun is a prerequisite, most times you are going to have to be a darn sight sneakier if you want to live long enough to face the mother of all monsters at the game's end. Don't worry, there are a wealth of goodies dotted around the place to help you on your way. Ammo for your weapons is the most popular pick-up, as well as three varieties of body armour (green, yellow and red - from economy to deluxe strength). However, the real gems (and rare ones too) are the 100+ health bonus (which, unsurprisingly, adds 100 points to your health, although it steadily counts down); biosuit (which helps you breathe underwater and survive radioactive slime); ring of shadows (only your eyes are visible, meaning that you can moon at bad guys with no comeback); pentagram of protection (you are invincible! Well, for a short while at least); and the mother of all power-ups... quad damage (this beauty, which looks like a'Q', allows you to deliver four times the killing power).
Thanks to Quake's believable 3-D environment, and the N64 controller pad, you can pick off ogres from below with a well placed rocket, or snipe at fiends from the relative comfort of a castle rampart.
There are four realms in Quake to travel through, which themselves are comprised of four or five sprawling levels. Each of these environments become progressively more disturbing than the last, as you find yourself swapping the relative normality of an industrial complex for crypts, castles and, quite literally, hell. At the end of each realm there is a rune to be collected; once you have all four, you can finally open up Quake's final dimension and confront the demon behind all this chaos: Shub-Niggurath.
Tales From The Crypt
The main control stick allows you to move forward, backward, and look from side to side. Also, because Quake - like Goldeneye - uses a 3-D environment, you can use the shoulder pads on the controller pad to look above, below and to the side of you. The game even gives you the option of configuring some of the controls to suit your needs; for instance, the 'lookspring' option will snap your view back to dead centre upon release of the shoulder button. Also, if your aim needs a little bit of help, you can opt to have a crosshair on screen at all times (although this can be distracting after a while). You can jump using the С Down button, and when underwater, this will also allow you to rise to the surface (essential if you don't want to drown!).
Quake is in no way particularly taxing on the old grey matter, as the only things you need to do (apart from killing everything you meet) are find coloured keys for the relevant doors, activate floorplates, discover secret doors, and press or shoot switches. Although each level usually has quite a few secrets, you never need to find them in order to complete a particular level, though the power-ups they contain serve to be a big help.
Once the control system has been mastered, it is easy to while away many hours slaughtering ogres, scrags and their ilk. If played on the easy mode it won't be too long before even a novice player finds themselves greeted with the end game sequence. However, the challenge doesn't end there, as the higher difficulty levels offer more challenges and (gulp!) lots more monsters. And let's not forget the two player option either!
Yes, if you get bored playing with yourself (oo-er!) then invite a friend round for an evening of murder and mayhem. Unfortunately Quake doesn't include the hallowed four-player option that practically sold Goldeneye, which is a major letdown. However, there's no good crying over spilt blood, so we'll have to make do.
The two-player mode itself is great fun, and the seven bizarre battle arenas offer a refreshing change from the 'realistic' world of the aforementioned secret agent multiplayer. Although the frame rate has been slightly reduced, multiplayer Quake still rattles along at a merry pace, with the only main criticism being the obstructive player menu bars which take up too much of the screen. Call me a philistine, but I don't need to know how many bullets I've got, or how close to death I am. The priority should be to see as much as you can on screen so you can kill your mate... you can worry about the rest when you're dead! That said, the multiplayer mode should keep you occupied long after you've completed the one-player game.
Quake's strength comes from its previously mentioned atmosphere and the cunning artificial intelligence of its denizens. Although the latter is noticeably weaker when compared to the later levels of Goldeneye (with its side-stepping, bush-whacking soldiers), it is nonetheless disturbing to leap through a teleporter and find that a shambler has the instincts to swiftly follow you to the other side.
However, the game's main weakness lies purely in the fact that it is two years old. Since it first came out the likes of Turok, Goldeneye and even Quake 2 have revolutionised and updated what a first-person blaster should be. Perhaps the developers should have gone the route of Doom 64 (with its all-new levels tailor-made for the N64), and opted for a combination of elements from Quake and its recent sequel. At least that way they wouldn't be opening up their conversion for obvious comparisons with its PC birth-mother.
However, comparisons have and will inevitably be made. So, how does it compete with the PC or Mac versions? As it happens, it fares pretty darn well, and is arguably the best-looking version of the lot! There are none of the 'flat' wall tones which were found on the PC version here, Quake 64's interior designers instead plumping for a gorgeously doomladen choice of hues, making full use of the N64's RGB palette.
The most important thing of all is, it is nonetheless disturbing to leap through a teleporter and find that a shambler has the instincts to swiftly follow you to the other side.
Quake is extremely fast and supremely addictive; the game generates a genuine buzz when you are running around attempting to cut down a horde of freaks with your nailgun. The characters are brilliantly animated polygons, and although not as detailed up close as the Goldeneye characters, they are nonetheless a pleasure to introduce to the business end of your shotgun.
The music - if you can call it that -is a mixture of low moans and wails, with a soupgon of industrial clanking thrown in for good measure. Although the idea of it may sound awful, in practice it does generate a suitably eerie atmos, and is just right for raising the hairs on the back of your neck. Also, the screams, roars and groans of the monsters are spot on, and it is possible to guess who it is creeping up behind you just from their signature sound effect.
With Quake 64 it is simply a case of if you haven't played it before (and you're a fan of this type of game) then you will love it. However, Quake veterans looking for a new challenge may well be disappointed, as beyond the improved visuals of the game. If there is really nothing new here.
Quake 64 DownloadsQuake 64 download
Decent fist of a PC conversion, keeping all the original's labyrinths and gore, but falling down on the weak two-player game.
Tidy new light sourcing, polygonal monsters, a lame two-player deathmatch and lots of blood. Good, but by no means brilliant.