Quake Mission Pack 2: The Dissolution of Eternity
"Your journey has led you down a path of no return. The acrid smell of death fills the air. And you know that the road ahead may surely lead to your grave. But Quake and his insidious apocalyptic plans must be crushed. If you fail, evil will shroud the universe for all eternity." This is the self-description for Quake mission pack authorized by id Software and distributed by Activision. When Quake first came out, many people were left with the impression that Quake was less of a game and more of a gaming engine. It had a few rough edges, and was initially geared more towards the avid gamer and less towards the casual player. The mission packs were intended to build upon that engine, providing more carnage for the buck, and have done so. However, is a hard act to follow, and it raised the standard for Quake add-ons. Can Dissolution of Eternity cut it?, the second (and most recent)
Quake Mission Pack 2 has sixteen levels, each of which takes you through several themes and environments, such as ancient Egypt and Meso-America. This provides a good deal of variety between levels and within the episodes, adding a feel of atmosphere and progression to the game. In addition, this allows a greater deal of variety in the colors and architecture of the levels, something that the original Quake often lacked. Also, most of the levels have at least 100 creatures in them on the higher difficulty levels, giving you quite a task to accomplish. However, there are occasions when you are left in the level without an idea of where to go and what to do, and the levels can at times feel like key and button quests. In spite of this, most of the levels are rather good, and I enjoyed playing them.
Documentation and Installation
The game has about as much documentation as you would expect from an expansion pack for an existing game -- installation instructions, new features, and troubleshooting. Then again, a game's manual is usually about as complex as its storyline, which is nothing to worry about in this case. Installation proceeded without a problem on several machines, although, like the first mission pack, you will want to free up about 40 MB of hard drive space.
Originality and Cool Features
Dissolution of Eternity carries a staggering array of new creatures and features. First of all, there are about a dozen new monsters, in addition to the original Quake monsters. Included are the hellspawn (a more ferocious version of the spawn), somewhat underwhelming electric eels, phantom swordsmen (floating swords), mummies (stronger versions of the zombie), statues that come to life and hack you up, and ogres that throw multi-grenades.
In addition, you will find guardians (very cool-looking ancient Egyptian beings that come after you in numbers), wraiths, overlords (which shoot heat-seeking shots and explode when they die), and what I call lava babies, which are miniature versions of Chthon from the original. Finally, the end boss is the dragon, a creature that made its debut in the deathmatch alpha pre-test for Quake but was (for reasons unknown) left out of the release version.
As far as weapons go, you will find multi-rockets (which shoot four mini-rockets), multi-grenades (which spit out five mini-grenades when they land), lava nails (hellish versions of the original), and the plasma cannon, which shoots a ball of lightning that explodes on contact and fires mini bolts of lightning at every target in sight. In the items category, you will find the Power Shield, which gives you superior armor for a limited period of time, and the Anti-Gravity Belt, which allows you to jump much higher and fall more slowly.
Unfortunately, while most of the monsters are pretty fun, the weapons all fall in the "been there, done that" category. These have all existed in some form or another as downloads on the Internet, and are not all that stunning. In addition, while the Power Shield is relatively helpful, I found the Anti-Gravity belt to be all but useless in the levels provided. At the very least, they could have made sure that the levels had areas where you could take advantage of the temporarily low gravity.
Dissolution does have its share of tricks and traps, which mostly consist of swinging pendulums and buzzing saw blades in the floor. In addition, throughout the game there are several areas where an earth "Quake" effect is felt, often making it difficult to keep your footing on narrow ledges and in the midst of falling boulders. However, most of these are effects that have been shown in other add-on packs and level additions, so while they are fun, they do not score points for originality.
Dissolution of Eternity does add several versions of gameplay to the mix, including tag and capture the flag (CTF). Within the CTF games, there are a few options you can choose, including "One Flag" and "Three Teams," and the game has a random item generator to discourage those moldy campers. These are welcome features to the mission pack, but again, these are features that have been available for download over the Internet for months.
Quake Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity is a good, but not great, addition to Quake. It provides large levels with lots of nasties, and it adds a great deal of new creatures, weapons and options. Considering the price (around $25), it is a pretty good deal for the average Quaker lusting for more action. However, in spite of its good qualities, it's difficult to follow Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon, and Dissolution ends up left in its shadow. In spite of this, Dissolution is a solid addition to a great game, and although it may not measure up to its big brother, it does leave all the other add-on competition in the dust.