Quake 3 Arena
Enter the Arena. Ancient gods and terrible powers have created the Arena, a spectacle of warfare and bloodshed. This game has no end, it has no winner, it only has combat. Playing the part of a gladiator in this arena, it is your goal to crush, maim, and kill your way to the top of the list, no matter the cost.
To put it simply, Quake III is the most advanced first person shooter created by Id Software, the great grandfather of modern first person shooters. Id Software has taken most of the technologies developed in Quake and Quake II, and put them to good use in this sequel. However, the question that begs to be asked is whether or not the lack of gameplay improvements can be outweighed.
Quake III Arena made an impressive showing in the PC market and now that it’s been brought over to the Dreamcast, it will get a chance to do the same. With multiplayer features never yet exploited in a Dreamcast title, Quake III may have a lot to offer.
Gameplay is the first and foremost problem facing any console based first person shooter. When it comes down to it, the movement and combat features of a controller, even one as advanced as the Dreamcast’s, pales in comparison to the control and utility provided with a mouse and keyboard. However, with what little they’ve been given, Id Software has made lemonade out of lemons, using the Dreamcast controller to its full capability. The analog stick is used to control aiming, and movement and fire control are easily handled with the thumb and forefinger buttons.
The game itself revolves around moving throughout a level, bearing any number of nasty weapons, while collecting the firepower, ammunition, items, and armor necessary to deal death to your opponent. Essentially a one-on-one deathmatch, you win by collecting frags, which are earned after killing your opponent. Of course, those same ancient beings that brought you to the arena also resurrect you after each death to prolong their amusement.
By far, the graphics for Quake III Arena are its strongest point. A slightly lower grade than the PC version, they are nonetheless still very impressive. Colorful weaponry effects and luscious textures make each arena seem more an art show than a game, with amazing scenery and bizarre architecture. Id Software hasn’t skimped on the lighting and special effects either. With an almost uncanny sense of what weaponsfire should look like, anyone who lights up their target with a stream of machine gun fire won’t be disappointed.
The only flaw in the design of Quake III Arena’s visuals is the lack of real Level of Detail programming. Based on the concept that distant items don’t need to be given as much detail, this technique can greatly reduce the strain on the console, and greatly improve the games performance. Sadly, this element is missing from Quake III Arena.
Once again, although they aren’t much to write home about, Quake III Arena’s sounds are a near perfect replica of those from the PC game. When the bombast of rockets explode around you, you’ll come to appreciate the quality of this sound.
As an added bonus, Quake III Arena is fully compatible with Sega.net, the online service that supports Dreamcast players. With the built-in modem, area for four controllers, and a large enough television, you could participate in quite an interesting multiplayer experience.
Quake III Arena is close enough in quality and composition to the PC title to be considered a very faithful transition. The graphics, audio, and gameplay stack up to the original version, with the only flaws being evident in the control style, and lack of variety in gameplay (unlike games such as Unreal Tournament). With the added element of multiplayer support, Quake III Arena is one of the best first person shooters I’ve seen on a console system. If you’re a first person shooter fan, it is definitely worth buying, and even if you're not, it's worth renting a few dozen times.
Download Quake 3 Arena
What's the deal?
Oh, you can play Quake III Arena with three buddies on one TV in split-screen mode. We promise we won't point and laugh at you (although we can't make the same guarantee for Hsu and Chan). But damnit, man--this is one of the first full-blown network games optimized for SegaNet (which also launches in September). Qlll Arena is meant to be played over the Internet, against 15 human opponents. And despite some initial concern from developer Raster Productions that it couldn't be done, Qlll Arena will support deathmatching between owners of the DC and PC version. PC users will just need to download a patch and play on special servers that are running with the Dreamcast version's maps. "This is especially interesting because it's the first time PC and console users will be able to play head-to-head online in real-time action," Qlll Arena senior producer Scott Hawkins told us. "It'll allow users to answer the question: Which type of gamer is the ultimate online fragmaster--PC or Dreamcast players?" DC gamers need not fear losing their competitive edge because they're stuck with awkward joypad-only control; Sega is shipping the DC mouse in time for the game's release.
So why is it a must-get game?
It's about gosh-darn time we got to use the Dreamcast's modem for more than just clunky Web browsing and the occasional Chu Chu match. Qlll Arena--like NFL 2K1 and a few upcoming third-party titles--will prove once and for all whether the DC and its 56K modem can pump out a lag-free online-gaming experience. We really dig the game's new features, too--especially the way you unlock new characters by hunting and fragging them on the game's servers. Now that's the manly way to play Qlll. Forget about that split-screen stuff.
With a release window of late August/early September, Quake III: Arena will conceivably be the first game to put Sega's new network through its paces--so you better believe it'tl be a better-than-flawless translation of the ultimate PC frag party. The product of a partnership between publisher Sega, Activision and developer Raster Productions (who brought Quake II to the N64), Qlll is being ported under the watchful eyes of John Carmack and crew at id Software--just above those watchful eyes, to be exact. "The guys at Raster are actually on the floor right above id's offices," said Scott Hawkins, QIIPs producer at Sega. "The id guys are there all the time, day in and day out. They're totally behind this project."
Qlll will hit the Dreamcast with all the single-player trials and multiplayer modes--namely Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag--of the PC original. It will keep many of the same level maps, as well as include several new arenas. Up to four players can battle each other in split screen if they don't feel like going online for network play.
But Internet deathmatching is Qlll's main draw, and the DC version will let up to 16 players duke it out online. The developers are currently tweaking the game's interface to make picking a game server as user friendly as possible. "The menu screen is similar to the way the PC version does it where it lists different servers or different games you can join," Hawkins explained, "but we've changed some of the information on that screen. Instead of listing different ping times, it actually displays a little colored meter. It'll be different lengths and colors depending on how good the connection is. It will automatically disregard games that are not going to give you optimal gameplay." Sega also announced that owners of the DC Qlll will be able to play against gamers on a PC--although, according to Hawkins, that feature might not make it into the final product. "I know it has been announced that we're supporting that." he 3 said, "but we're still looking into that. At a minimum, PC users will have to download some type of patch. Technically, we're pretty sure we can do it. As long as it's a good experience for both sides, we'll definitely put that feature in there."
Qlll will support a variety of control configurations, including one that lets you use your joypad and keyboard in tandem, much like the mouse-and-keyboard setup PC Quake freaks are so fond of. But will you be able to use a mouse? "I know we are looking into supporting it," Hawkins answered.
"And if Sega does release a mouse here, we'll definitely support it in the game." Our prediction: Expect Sega to release a mouse in time for Qlll. The DC version will look at least as good as the PC original. It'll pack new textures and support all the major effects, including curved surfaces, while running at a solid 30 frames per second. You'll even find special VMU display functions, such as messages that pop up during gameplay, a frag counter, an in-game compass and more. But what'll really set this version apart is its collection of characters and the novel, seemingly Pokemon-inspired way you'll open some of them. Locked away on the GD-ROM will be many Dreamcast-exclusive Qlll characters. You won't be able to open these guys by playing solo. The only way to get them is to go hunting on the Qlll servers. "Let's say you go online and see this character you've never seen before," Hawkins explained. "If you can frag that character online, then it will unlock in your version so you can actually select that character in future battles."
Hawkins said Sega and Raster will leak these character models one at a time on various servers or perhaps even during special E3 tournaments. Players who unlock the characters in the tourneys will then pass them on in regular games, and eventually the new characters will trickle down to all the servers. "We're gonna be pretty tightlipped about how many characters there will be," Hawkins said, "but it will be very cool and a great way to encourage gamers to go online."
just don't expect to see any familiar blue hedgehogs running around the arenas. "We've been talking about having Sonic as a hidden character," Hawkins told us, "but legal's not too happy about it. No one wants to see Sonic fragged."
Yeah, there are better single player first-person shooters out there, but If you have never played multiplayer online deathmatch, prepare for your whole world to change. In the transition from the PC to DC, they got almost all the big stuff right: the game looks incredible and moves smoothly, even in the splitscreen modes. All the superb weapon effects and detailed otherworldly levels have been retained, making Q3 the best-looking game in the genre-outdoing even its PS2 peers. Ingenious level designs (including the new DC-exdusives) make for battles that can always be strategic, but never boring. The weapons, the characters, alternate play modes (teams, tournament and capture the flag), the fully customizable controls, the number of options-- all excellent. The online play is really impressive for a 56K modem-a bit jumpy at times and you won't be using the lightning or rail gun really effectively, but otherwise one helluva ride. My one big problem is the four-player limit. Otherwise the complaints are minor, but numerous: You can't search by name for friends on the Net, the interface needs polish, there's no score display, and the showscores covers the whole screen, plus there's no option to simplify the graphics to up the framerate like on the PC, but the game does it automatically in split screen. If you're at all into shooters, grab a mouse, keyboard and this game.
As a die-hard console gamer. I'd never played Q3 before. But it makes a good console game-and a great addition to SegaNet's lineup. The one-player game's OK, but playing online will suck away hours of your life. Lag isn't unbearable and the framerate is solid for the most part. My only real complaint is that there's no place in the game's interface to meet up with friends online. You have to all know the exact server IP address and port number, and if you only have one phone line, forget about it. Using the DC pad was fine for me (at first)--but you'll be horribly handicapped if playing against someone who has a mouse/keyboard. Lotsa fun.
I was skeptical of how much fun I would have with this relatively old PC game, but my concerns have been squashed. I'm having a blast with Q3, even though I pretty much suck at it. Sega has spiced the interface and graphics just enough to make it feel more at home on a console, while still keeping everything Quake-ish enough not to upset hardcore fans. The online play only allows for four people at once, but it's a small price to pay for the smooth online combat that makes it so great. The single player arenas get boring, but that isn't what this game is made for. Regardless of your Quake strategy, make sure you arm yourself with a keyboard and mouse.