Quake III: Team Arena
To those of you who sing from the Quake hymn book and believe that the Supreme Being at id Software can do no wrong, reading further may prove to be a little traumatic. For despite introducing new weapons, new features and new gameplay.
Team Arena is poor-to-middling in quality and does nothing to reclaim its sibling's position as top online shooter.
In many ways, id has only itself to blame, having released all its trade secrets in the form of game engine source code. There are now so many first-class mods and conversions available freely on cover discs that players expect a whole lot more from their software when it has a price tag swinging from it.
As an expansion pack, Team Arena requires that you have Quake 3 already installed, meaning a total investment of around $50 - not including the 16Mb accelerator card that the new game demands, or the 128Mb memory necessary for the galaxy-sized outdoor maps to render at a decent frame rate. Compare TA to Half-Life or Unreal Tournament, both of which offer similar play styles but at less than half the cost, and it should be clear from the outset that the odds are stacked against it.
All That Glistens
Visually, Team Arena is pure confectionery for the eyes. With the super-cheeky Quake 3 engine behind it, the game supports all the graphical tricks and treats we know and love so well, including dynamic shadows, curved surface rendering, specular lighting, bilinear filtering and quadriplegic dribbling.
Trouble is, nobody cares any more. If you've played Counter-Strike, you'll be intimately familiar with the single greatest map of all time, Dust.
It is by far and away the smallest and simplest setting in the game, comprising one or two monotone textures, a couple of choke points and a few boxes. There are no stairways, balustrades, balconies, ducts, vents, mezzanine floors, vaulted arches, domes, obelisks, stained-glass windows or weird techno-gothic architecture whose only purpose in life is to heat-stress your video card. What makes a map great is the way it plays, and it's here that Team Arena short. Included in the pack are 19 new levels, four of which are essentially Quake III Capture The Flag maps with the odd nip and tuck, leaving 15 really new ones in total. Four of these are one-on-one tournament-style maps, which by definition don't belong in a team game, and so now we're down to 11.
For the most part, these 11 are fast and well balanced, but like the techno-metal soundtrack and Unreal Tournaments voice taunts, they're pretty forgettable affairs. The outdoor variants - which drag Quake players from their narrow factory corridors out into the open air -are too large to be popular with existing players. While initially rattier captivating ("Look, DeAtHReAper, floor made of grass!"), they soon become tiresome, with the long trek between enemy bases turning levels into more of a slog than a mission. Additionally, much of the terrain makes le combat alfresco a chore as your progress is hindered by hills, dips and crests in the landscape.
Both the nailgun and chaingun make a welcome return, although the former is useful only as a last resort, and the latter so powerful it disrupts the balance of play. New to the game is a mine launcher that drops small proximity charges which stick to enemy clothing and explode a few seconds later. Although this may sound fun, it serves only to encourage bad play, with respawn areas, cap points, entrances and walkways often ending up covered in the damn things. Meeting your maker in Quake should be an honourable thing, your twitching corpse a recognition of another player's skill. Legging it through a level base before spontaneously exploding out back is hardly a noble end.
There are six new power-ups: doubler, ammo regeneration, kamikaze, invulnerability, guard and scout, with each bestowing special abilities upon its owner. There are a finite number of them on each map, so if you're after one in particular, you may have to wait until the player carrying it dies.
In the case of kamikaze and invulnerability, you don't have to wait long. Kamikaze explodes in a huge atomic blast that encompasses a substantial area of the map, while invulnerability renders the user impervious to assault but immobile for the duration. Guard and scout provide a pseudo class structure, with scouts able to run at double speed but with no armour, and guards able to replenish their health without running over spheres.
Trouble is, Quake III already had too many power-ups floating about its levels, and Q3TA levels are positively festooned with the bloody things. It's reached the point where you have to stop and think twice about which novelty you're walking over and what the hell it does. It also makes newbies a real curse, as they tend to stomp about aimlessly picking everything up ("Ooh, pretty baubles!") and preventing the more experienced players getting the toys they need to win. At the heart of Q3TA are four new teamplay modes, including your common or garden CTF, Overload, Harvester and One Flag CTF. Overload is without doubt the most entertaining variation, as it encourages your team to work as one and destroy an obelisk set deep inside the enemy's base.
It's nigh-on impossible to destroy this object single handed, so you need to rely on the co-operation of your team mates in order to get the job done. Harvester involves collecting opponents' skulls and dropping them off behind enemy lines. Although it may sound good on paper, the reality is it's rather flawed: instead of dropping to the ground when you frag someone, the skulls appear alongside a pillar in the centre of the map and can be collected by anyone, meaning most of the action gravitates towards them, with the remainder of the level remaining eerily quiet.
The same is true for One Flag CTF which, as its name suggests, revolves around a single flag and requires little in the way of tactics or group strategy.
In the final analysis, it has to be said that Team Arena does nothing to enrich the lives of existing Quake players, especially if they've dabbled in Unreal Tournament or Half-Life. While gameplay variations such as Overload will force many people into rethinking the way they play, and should encourage old-skool deathmatchers to evolve into half-decent team players, $19.99 buys three days of modem time -more than you need to cruise the web and download every Quake III mod ever made. For at its heart, that is all Team Arena is, and not a particularly impressive one at that.
Download Quake III: Team Arena
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
With killer technology and a dominant brand name, Quake III: Arena is the first-person shooter to beat this year. Can id make lightning strike thrice?
Aiming for A.I.
The main thing that separates Quake III: Arena from its predecessors is the single-player game. The linear story line of Quake and Quake II has been replaced with a series of battles against A.I. opponents in a 30-level deathmatch competition. Of course, that's just a warm-up for the bloodbaths that await hearty players on the Internet.
From die outset, players will choose between Light, Medium, and Heavy classes--as you might expect. Light soldiers can move fast and rocket-jump higher, while Heavy guys can take more damage as they lumber around. The player models have also been segmented into head, body, and legs for even more realistic movement About 12 player models are expected to ship with QIIIA, along with numerous skins and insti-uc-tions on how to digitize youiself into the game.
III Is a Magic Number
To get all Quake III: Arena has to offer, you'll need some decent hardware. Acceptable performance will require a Pentium II 300, and the game won't run without a 3D accelerator.
By taking the best bits of Quake I and Quake II, id's hoping that Quake III: Arena will appeal to hardcore veterans as the best of bodi .earlier games. Meanwhile, many of the elements are being crafted widi complete newbies in mind, so they won't be overwhelmed. It's a delicate balance, but if anybody can pull it off, it's id.
Smoke & Mirrors?
Quake III's gaming world will feature such goodies as curved surfaces, dynamic shadows, rotating mirrors, volumetric fog (similar to the smoky stuff found in Unreal), 24-bit color textures, and displacement maps, which will finally solve that blocky-when-you-look-at-it-up-close problem.
Familiar weapons will include the super shotgun, machine gun, grenade launcher, plasma gun, rocket launcher, railgun, and some form of a BFG. New weapons include a flamethrower and perhaps a return of the lightning gun. The guys at id are still finalizing the guns, as well as working on balancing for each weapon.
While far from complete, a test version of Quake III Arena proves that id still has the magic touch.
This is Only a Test
To iron out bugs in the networking code, id released a test version of Quake III Arena -not an official demo, mind you. but a tech tool that was already brimming with solid multiplayer action.
The test release came with one human player model, two levels, and a handful of weapons. Spruced-up versions of the shotgun. machine gun, rocket launcher (with slower projectiles than before), railgun, and plasma gun were joined by a new base weapon, the gauntlet an electrically charged glove that does major damage up close. There's also a personal teleporter power-up to help you get out of tough spots (like lava) in a flash - literally!
Little Touches, Big Impact
Arena's engine can do all kinds of neat tricks: curved surfaces, fog effects, reflections, and transparencies, all with blazing gameplay speed. Just as impressive, however, are minor gameplay touches, proving that id is listening to players and learning from the past. When a character is busy typing, a blue word balloon appears over their head to let you know they're mid-chat and unprepared for combat Player names appear on screen when you put your crosshairs over them, and those crosshairs also offer a health update by their color: White is hale and hearty, but as the reticle fades to red, you're getting closer to death's door. Also, an announcer tells you when you're in the lead (and when you've lost it). These are hardly revolutions, but they're certainly welcome additions.
The test release ran beautifully on a 400 MHz G3; a high frame rate and smoke trails that cloud die battlefield made the experience quite immersive. While there were some fantastic squishing noises to accompany die gory action, great blasting effects, and booming voice-overs, about half the samples were recycled from Quake II. Hopefully, the old ones will be replaced before release--it s just a tech test, after all.
Ultimately, much will depend on how Quake III Arenas single-player bot A.I. stacks up. given that many gamers lack a great Internet connection or access to a LAN. If id and John Carmack can offer a solid package on all fronts, they'll easily continue their reign.
Released as the first add-on pack for Quake III Arena, Team Arena upgrades Quake III's capabilities, taking it from the status of a humble first-person shooter into the realm of ass-kicking multiplayer goodness. Designed purely to enhance Quake III's multiplayer aspect, Team Arena adds new weapons, characters, maps and gameplay modes and is sure to enhance your gaming experience.
As an add-on pack, Team Arena updates Quake III with the multiplayer features already present in most other multiplayer first-person shooters like Capture the Flag, Harvester and Overload. Of course there are features you can use during any Quake III Arena game, like the Team Arena powerups that allow you to regenerate ammunition, move extraordinarily quickly or commit a kamikaze attack, among other things.
Not leaving out people who want to avoid playing online, Team Arena blends perfectly with the original Quake III game. They've even added three new weapons: the Chain Gun, Prox Launcher (which fires 'sticky' mines that can be attached anywhere) and the fabulous Nail Gun, something that Quake III Arena was sorely missing.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Nearly all the modifications that Quake III: Team Arena makes are invisible in the interface, merely adding new features to online and LAN play. You'll be able to activate or deactivate any of these features by launching Quake III with the Team Arena shortcuts, which automatically start the game in Team Arena mode. If you don't want to do that, you can always hit the 'mods' button from inside Quake III and turn on the Team Arena pack.
With an updated version of the Internet game browser, connection to games is a snap. Find the server you want to play on, click and launch straight into it. Starting a server is equally easy, as Team Arena provides simple-to-use menus allowing you to configure the game and choose which of the Team Arena add-ons you'd like to use.
In the case of Team Arena, it's all about multiplayer. Every addition that this add-on pack makes is designed to enhance the multiplayer experience. While it isn't necessarily a blemish on Team Arena, one of my strongest complaints is that it didn't ship along with Quake III. Compared to many of the other titles like it, Quake III was missing many of the gameplay enhancements that make multiplayer first-person shooters great. Releasing Team Arena as an extra add-on pack that you need to purchase after getting Quake III is like releasing a game half-finished, then asking for thirty dollars to patch the game up to its full version.
Graphics & Audio
While none of the features added by Team Arena actually change the graphics engine in Quake III Arena, they do add a few new graphics for you to take advantage of. New skins, weapons, and maps present new visual tidbits to feast upon, and the rendering power of the Quake III engine makes them well worth looking at. You'll have a host of new skins, from the Doom marine to the team skins for the Team Arena single-player tournament. The addition of a Prox Launcher and the Nail Gun (where was this in Quake III? We certainly wanted it!) along with the Chain Gun give you the chance to experiment with new guns. All of these items have the same distinctive visual and auditory design that went into _Quake III Arena.
Two of the additional play modes you'll see in Team Arena are Harvester and Overload. Harvester is a capture-the-flag style game where you frag other players for their points and then deliver those points to a central nexus, allowing you to score. Overload is a base attack mission where you attempt to destroy a target inside the enemy base by overloading it with massive amounts of damage.
Intel PII-300/AMD K6-3 350 or better, Windows 95/98/ME/2000/NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3), 64 MB RAM, 500 MB hard drive space, 16 MB video card, OpenGL-compliant 3D accelerator card, DirectX 3.0-compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive, Microsoft-compatible mouse, full version of Quake III Arena for Windows, TCP/IP Internet or LAN connection (for multiplayer)
Here's my bottom line: as an add-on pack, Team Arena rocks. It adds everything I wanted to see in Quake III Arena, but wasn't actually there. Team Arena can be played by the newest gamer, and the small enhancements it adds to Quake III's interface are worth it. Adding some of the gameplay styles that you'd normally look for in a heavily multiplayer game, it brings Quake III in line with what you'd expect from a team like id Software.
The only drawback to this title is that it should've been part of Quake III Arena from the get-go. By releasing Team Arena as an add-on pack, id Software is practically announcing that Quake III wasn't finished. Still, drawbacks aside, Team Arena stands out as not only a good add-on pack, but something that makes the original well worth playing again.