Created by Argonaut (the developers behind the Croc series, the new PS1 Harry Potter game and the original Star Fox), Malice is the tale of a young girl in a not-so-wonderful land, armed primarily with a big stick. The huge 3D levels provide plenty of space to fight bad guys with magical weapons like the Mace of Clubs, the Clockwork Hammer and the Quantum Tuning Fork.
The definition of malice according to the American Heritage Dictionary: The desire to harm others or to see others suffer; spite. The definition of Malice, according to Quantum Axcess: The desire to harm others or to see others suffer for cash or valuable prizes.
Malice is the story of a hired gun, known only as Damage. The only description that local authorities have of Damage is a man wearing a red bandana and a grin.
Currently in the employment of the B.O.S.S corporation, Damage deals with the various freaks and thugs of rival corporations. As he is loyal only to those that pay him well and in a timely manner, it is best not to string this dangerous man along with promises of payment, as your door may be next thing he kicks in ...
Malice is a unique total conversion for Quake. It offers 24 all new levels, nine new weapons, five useful items, all new monsters and textures, "intermission style" cutscenes, and a destroyable and interactive environment.
Unlike Quake and both Mission Packs, Malice has a storyline. The storyline isn't just a text file found on the CD, but an actual story -- played out in cutscenes between certain levels. As you progress through the game the storyline unfolds, until finally it ends in the usual John Wayne-style showdown expected of any good action game. The cutscenes are Quake-native movies or demos, made with a demo editor.
There are nine new weapons in Malice: the Trusty .44, the HellFire, the Vert-Barrelled Shotgun, the Uzi, the Mini-Gun, the Mortar-Gun, the Missile Launcher, the Punisher, and a special power-up weapon -- The Big-Ass Gun. I personally prefer the non-explosive weapons in Malice, as it is never fun to light oneself on fire or eat rockets -- which mediocre players like myself have been known to do.
Several weapons in Malice require you to use a special key to reload them (typically the "R" key) At first it seems like a pain to have to do this every 10 rounds or so (on some guns) but I found it easy to do and more representative of the particular weapons. There is a nifty animation when you reload weapons to add to the effect.
I really enjoyed most of the weapons in Malice, especially the Punisher -- which replaces the lightning gun in Quake. I liked it because it's the new way to "rocket jump" in Malice, and using the Punisher to do this seems to yield higher heights than previously achieved with the rocket launcher (at least for me). I also found myself using the Trusty .44 handgun and the Mini-Gun a lot. I really like the way they look and feel. Of course, for those fascinated with explosives and fire, there are several choice weapons to get a quick frag, blow someone to bits, or watch as fire dances on an enemy's back. Overall, though, the weapons are well balanced.
What really made Malice interesting for me were the new items. Some you can carry with you and activate via a "USE" key, while other devices are found and used automatically. The usable items in the game are the Hoverboard, the Probe and the Parachute. The Wetsuit works automatically, and the Parachute works by pressing Jump while descending from a distance. The rest are activated via the aforementioned "USE" key. The Hoverboard deserves special attention, as it adds speed, heightened jumping and some cool gameplay to Quake. Couple the jumping prowess of the hoverboard with the "Punisher Jump" mentioned earlier, and you will jump higher than you ever thought possible. The other Item -- which cannot be carried -- is the Mini-Sub. The Mini-Sub is pretty awesome, and in a level with a lot of water it could become a new way of playing Quake all on its own! Something similar to a sub duel is possible in Malice if you choose the right Deathmatch level.
The only item that I found insignificant was the probe. It seems it was thrown in more for novelty's sake than for any real usefulness. Sure, you could use it for spying, but beyond that it is just another broken thing on the floor in a Deathmatch session (amid all the bodies). It is kind of cool to fool around with, though.
There are 24 levels in Malice: 15 single player levels, 3 secret levels and 6 Deathmatch maps. All the maps in Malice mesh together nicely -- you are not thrust into a different world with each new level. The Deathmatch levels are awesome to look at and designed specifically for certain styles of play, using the hoverboard, the sub and the parachute.
It should also be noted that the palette in Quake has been replaced with different colors, such as blues and yellows, instead of the swampy drab green and dark browns of the original Quake palette. This gives Malice a nice industrial feel to it, sort of like a battle on a construction site.
The levels themselves contain a lot of puzzles, such as moving objects for climbing up, using ladders, shooting out weak structures and vent grates, etc. and often the environment must be manipulated to move ahead in the game. Unlike Hexen II, the puzzle part of the game doesn't get too complex, but adds a little touch to make it interesting. Overall, I enjoyed the levels in Malice and found the design unique (that's saying a lot, considering that about 20 new maps for Quake turn up every day.)
There are 14 enemies in Malice, counting Colonel Bossman, who is your ultimate challenge in the game. While I liked the way Bossman attacked, I wasn't really wowed by this character and I think he could have been made to look a lot better than he did. Looks aside, he is certainly no pushover, no matter what level of difficulty you are set to. I really liked the object he "drives" in the last level (I'll let that stay a secret).
The end boss is not the only enemy that is tough in Malice, though. Several mechanized humans and robots traverse the levels of Malice, seeking to give you a good old-fashioned beating. Human mercenaries and thugs don't seem to be too fond of you, either, and the animals in the game are just a bit too repulsive and mean to take on as pets. All the enemies get tougher and seem to work better together on higher levels. Overall, the models and animation associated with enemies in Malice are top-notch and when you add a realistic and decent AI to the mix, you have suave-looking enemies that are smarter than the average player.
One final note on Malice: it comes bundled with Gamespy, the game server browser launcher for Quake, Hexen II and many more games to be added at a later date. Gamespy needs to be registered to use some of the features such as the built-in chat client. Gamespy may or may not prove useful to Malice users in the long run -- it all depends on the number of people interested in the game, and the willingness of individuals to run Malice-dedicated servers. Nevertheless, it's nice not to have to go searching for it. Just install it from the CD and go.
Documentation and Controls
The version of Malice that I received did not include a manual, as it was a Gold Master CD. Be sure to look in your Quake directory for malice.txt and other important text files that are included on the CD. If you are accustomed to the way your Quake modifications are set up, then setting up Malice won't be too much of an ordeal. An important detail should be taken into account for those people who only have 16 MB of memory and a 3Dfx-based card—you will want to use this command line: glquake.exe -game malice -winmem 12 -heapsize 12000
This will ensure that the GL version gets enough system resources to work. It is also important that you have a swap file of at least 80 MB. To set this, go to the Control Panel, Click on System, click on Performance, Go to Virtual Memory, click on Let me specify my own virtual settings, and in the first box marked minimum, enter 80 and click OK. By following the steps listed above I had no problems running Malice on my machine.
Graphics and Design
Malice features all-new textures, 3D models, 2D graphics and levels. Not one Quake texture has been left in this add-on. It is, without a doubt, all new. And, whether in GlQuake mode or regular Quake, Malice looks pretty sharp. The only graphical error I came across was being able to see though walls in the 3rd person mode.
As with the graphics, Malice features all-new sounds and comes with several MPEG music tracks that are very good. Each enemy has a "catch phrase" to spew when spotting damage. Even the cutscenes have decent audio, though on slower machines they tend to sound choppy at times. The audio completes the add-on, and makes it a true Quake "total conversion."
Because Malice is a Quake add-on, it is a given that Quake registered version 1.07 or higher is a requirement. If you have either of the mission packs (by Rogue or Ritual), you already meet this requirement. If you don't have these, don't worry -- you can use GLQuake or Winquake.
Required: Quake 1.07, 16 MB RAM, DOS 5.0, or Windows 95, 4X CD-ROM drive, 70 MB hard drive space, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card, SVGA graphics
Recommended: Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, 70 MB HD space, 6X CD-ROM drive, SVGA graphics, 3Dfx card, GLQuake 1.09, Windows 95, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card.
As Quake add-ons go, Malice is one of the best I have ever played. There is a ton of innovation in it, it's all new, is a blast to play, has a storyline, works with my favorite game, Quake, and is around $20 retail. It features all-new graphics, monsters, cutscenes, weapons and unique items that will change the way people play multiplayer Quake. Malice does contain some adult language, so it is not recommended for young children. Overall, if you like Quake you'll love Malice.