Cabbihs of the world unite and make merry. At last, your time has come and now you have a chance to get your own back. A chance to get that bastard who jumped out of the cab at Piccadilly Circus owing fifty quid in fare. A chance to mow down those tiresome old persons who take five million years to find their way to the other side of the pedestrian crossing. A not-to-be-missed opportunity to pull out a ridiculously over-sized machine gun and take bloody revenge on all those truckers who insist on beeping their horns incessantly and leaning out of their truck windows to shower you with personal insults and raise questions as to what your sexual preferences might be. All this, and more, can be yours in Gameteks new shoot-em-up with a difference: Cabbies Fight Back, er, I mean Quarantine. Make no mistake, this is a shoot-em-up with a difference. There are no enemy soldiers, Doom-type mutants or space-like things to blow up in Gameteks new blaster. Your targets instead are futuristic vehicles, fellow cabbies, innocent pedestrians and, well, just about anything that moves really. Moreover, all this merry blood-spilling fun takes place from behind the wheel of your shiny yellow taxi. In that sense, I suppose you could almost call it a sort of driving sim as well.
Before going on to the plot, I may as well get the obvious question everyones been asking about this game out of the way, i.e. is it just like Doom except you sit in a car? Well, you may have noticed already from the screen shots that it looks a bit similar to iDs classic kill-em-up. Yes, the scenery graphics are obviously inspired by Doom, the guns and weapons have a Doom-type feel to them, but Doom-On-Wheels Quarantine it most definitely is not. Quarantine has a completely different feel and an approach to gameplay it can call totally its own. Thats the is it a Doom rip-off? bit out of the way. On to the plot.
21st century cowboy
The game is set in the 21st century. You play a cabbie (hover-cabbie actually, these things fly about, you know) in Kemo, a city on the east coast of the United States. Kemo has a somewhat erratic history to say the least. A soaring crime rate prompts the US government to commission a huge corporation, called Omnicorp, to wade in and clean the place up. Great big walls are built around the city and the whole place is quarantined off. The government decide Kemo is a perfect place to put all new criminal offenders as well as keeping the citys current criminals at bay. Then Omnicorp have a brainwave. They decide to test a drug, which supposedly neutralises criminal tendencies, on the citys inhabitants. Lets put our wacky drug in the water supply and see if it drives them all loopy, they shout playfully. Imagine their delight when all Kemos inhabitants drink the water and turn into homicidal psychopaths whose fave pastime is killing things. So here you are, about to embark on your new career as a cabbie in an over-sized looney bin. Thats the story then, heres the low-down on the gameplay.
Return of the Killer Cabbies
The gameplay in Quarantine is quite simple in concept and has been designed to get you up and running, blasting the hell out of everything as quickly as possible. At the start of the game, your first objective is to raise money to buy weapons. You build up your cash by taking people on taxi rides, but that doesnt mean they just hop in, you drop them off and everyones happy, oh no. You are given a time limit to get your passengers to their destination. If you take too long, the fare they offered you goes down by the second. If the fare-ometer reaches zero they pay you nothing, even if you still get them to where they want to go. If you know this unfortunate situation is about to arise, you can simply eject them from your cab and splatter them all over the walls.
Driving the cab is pretty easy to handle, and you soon build up a healthy wad of cash with which you can purchase better guns and power-ups. Youll need these later in the game when people send you on missions to kill other people whom they dont like. So thats what its all about, but is it fun? For me, the answer is a definite yes. The graphics are excellent, the sound effects are superb, and the cab is a real hoot to zoom around in. And for added entertainment you can mow down innocent pedestrians and blow up fellow motorists if you dont like the colour of their cars. Theres a cool full-motion video intro with people shooting things in it, a cd soundtrack with songs by some Australian blokes, which is crap but it doesnt matter because you can use your own cd and still have the sound effects from the game over the top of them (Elastica come highly recommended by us). The only major niggle I have with the game is that the crap copy protection from the disk version has sneaked its way on to the cd. Apart from that, if you like your arcade action fast, hectic, and unspeakably violent, Quarantine is the game for you.
The plot of Gametek's Quarantine reads like a 1980s science-fiction film. In the not too distant future, the city of Kemo has degenerated into an uncontrollable, crime-ridden district. The situation gets so bad that the authorities decide to wall off Kemo and treat it as a self-managing high-security prison.
The protagonist, Drake Edgewater, is a cab driver trapped in Kemo with the rest of the population. Edge drives a reconditioned '59 checker cab which also serves as his home and office. It's no ordinary cab, though, because he has redesigned it to accept bolt-on weapons and other upgrades. Deciding that he would rather live in the outside world than within the dark and dangerous environment of Kemo, he sets off in search of Orion, a vertical propulsion system he had discovered some years earlier. With this attached to his cab, he hopes he'll one day make the break.
The plot is similar to John Carpenter's classic film Escape From New York. I asked Rod Humble, the game's executive producer, whether the design team had been influenced by this film. "No, the original plot from Gametek (written by myself), was called Bloods and focused on gang warfare. In this the player would do drug runs and "hits" in a major city. However, after revision, we sent the game out to Imagexcel and its collective genius reworked the design and came up with Quarantine, a far superior game."
Doom on wheels?
Imagine Doom with cars and, visually at least, you'll be close to imagining Quarantine. Unlike many companies which have jumped on the 3D shoot 'em up bandwagon, Gametek has come up with an engine which is just as smooth and fast as iD's. Rod, however, is keen to point out the differences. "Remember we are simulating vehicles, not people," he told me, "so we have different needs to Doom for which the Imagexcel engine does a better job. I am quite happy to have the best vehicle combat game and they have the best man-to-man combat game. What else can you say?"
One criticism levelled at Doom was that the action was the same throughout. It looks as if Quarantine may be saved from the same fate, largely because it is based on missions and building up your character and vehicle. The programmer, Ed Zolnieryk, has also taken great pains to create a detailed and involving plot. "The focus is on delivering your fares and killing a certain person rather than out and out survival," explains Rod.
Blood, guts and "kids' stuff"
Aside from the fast and smooth 3D graphics. Quarantine is characterised extreme violence. The other vehicles explode when you hit them, and pedestrians become so much gore on your windscreen as you plough through them. Gametek made a conscious decision from the earliest stages of the game's development to major on violence. It plans to include a strong warning on the box to prevent any minor from buying the game, but beyond that to leave it up to the individual consumers to decide whether or not the game is to their taste.
The development team has strong views on the whole issue of violence in computer games. "I do not wish to see our industry relegated to 'kids stuff," Rod states emphatically. "I think computer games are going through the same transformation that animation has. Recently, animation (mainly from Japan) has appeared containing sexual and violent themes. (Check out Legend Of The Overfiend.)
The problem has been that animation is regarded as children's media. This must now change as it has already changed for comics and will, I believe, change for computer games. The industry must rate itself, thereby giving consumers choice over what they buy.
What you cannot have is the whole industry put into one category and then anything outside that category getting banned. This farce may well happen in England (remember Nightrap?). Computer games must be held to the same standard as books or cinema, not a higher one. As for the growing lobby against violence and adult themes, beyond rating games - which is a good idea - we must fight it. Write to your mp or congressman and explain that you support freedom of expression. It's your choice: fight censorship or relegate our industry to the creative trash can!" Phew...
Will he escape?
Imagexcel - programmers Kevin Hoare, Ed Zolnieryk and Andy Brownbill, and artists Greg Bick and Ray Larabie - has been working on the engine for over a year now and the game has been in development since last December. Currently the game features checker cabs, regular and twin motorcycles and dirt bikes, sportster and compact cars, junkers, rigs, vans and front end loading trucks, hovering police vehicles and four-by-four offfoaders. If the team has time before the game's release it also plans to include assassin vehicles and other more exotic forms of transport.
It's also possible that the game will support some of the virtual reality devices mentioned in the Virtual Reality feature. Whatever happens, it does seem that Gametek has successfully married fast 3D action with role-playing elements. Whether the game will be good enough to keep your attention until Drake escapes remains to be seen.
You're Drake Edgewater, a 21st-century cabbie who's trying to, get out of the quarantined city of Kemo in a '52 Checker hover-cab that's armed with headlight machine guns. You view the one-player action from a first-person perspective, and the 3D graphics portray an eerie, derelict city through your windshield. As you careen through the high-tech city streets, you have to watch out for mines, rockets, and zombielike sickos. Of course, if you need cash for repairs or new weapons, you're gonna have to risk picking up a few fares...
GameTek's now making games for the 3DO! The game is called Quarantine. It is a first-person shooting game about a man named Drake Edgewater. He's a 21st century cab driver in the city known as KEMO. It's been quarantined for a number of health hazards. To make your living, you must accept passengers and take them to their destinations without getting yourself blown away by the roving gangs. Earn money and collect weapons in order to survive.
Quarantine is a cool game with lots of heavy-duty firepower.
While I do love the tongue-in-cheek humor that Quarantine dwells in. the game play needs a little work. The driving controls are tough to get used to. and the constant bombardment from the other vehicles is enough to drive you crazy. However, the warped vision of Quarantine comes through. The classy music combined with the graphic violence will tickle your funny bone. The people you meet are equally bizarre. Quarantine is a game that grows on you. I liked it.
I've heard the hype on this one, and truly loved the box art, but after powering it up, I wasn't excited or disappointed. The driving controls were seriously sluggish. If you can force the anger away, you might have fun running into people and blasting the other cars. But after that, there's really nothing left to do. If you relish the thought of bloody, mindlessly violent games, Quarantine may be for you. Give it a shot, but don't expect an exceptional game.
I'm not too crazy about having to drive a hover-taxi armed with weapons that only a tank can be equipped with. Too warped for me. The game is put together rather strangely. The main playing graphics are bad. especially when you get close to the other vehicles and pedestrians. Speaking of which, hitting them isn't done well, as the windshield looks as if ketchup were splattered on it. To top it off the control needs work. Could have been better if it were simplified.
I don't generally like driving games because they get boring fast. But this one does have a weird sense of humor and some funny things going on. The driving is sort of tough to get used to. and the graphics are nothing exceptional. However, the soundtrack is really cool but is almost overpowering. The best part of this game is its warped sense of humor with strange characters and situations, especially the nice degree of visible violence. This may be a cult hit.
The life of a taxi driver is pretty tough in today's world - but it's nothing compared to the dangerous life of a hovercab driver in the quarantined city of Kemo in 2048. As former family man Drake Edgewater, you're one of the few sane people surviving in a prison city overrun with psychotics. In Quarantine, an ultraviolent new game bound to gain cult status, your chance for escape from this crumbling metropolis rides on your skills as a tough cab-driving road warrior.
The Name's Drake-Not Snake
In this combination of driving and shooting action, your hovercab is your ticket out of Kemo. You cruise the streets, earning cash by transporting passengers and running missions for the resistance force. (The resistance force wants to end the rule of Omnicorp, which is responsible for the quarantine.) Completion of all assignments, such as package deliveries, bomb jobs, and even mob hits, within the time limit earns you the password to the next city district and eventually to freedom.
Your hovercab is nothing short of roving death, thanks to its impressive array of weapons. You begin with hood-mounted guns, and as you earn money, you can visit the local "Weapon King" to purchase everything from cannons to missiles to circular saws.
Purchasing an Uzi is necessary for those drive-bys where you need to shoot out of your side windows. As the enemies get tougher, you must upgrade your weapons to survive, and you'll need to hit the repair shop often.
You have a great weapon inside the cab, too: If you don't want your passenger anymore, the ejection seat drops them off a little short of their destination. And when all else fails, remember your cab itself is a weapon, and you can run over anyone in your path.
Remains Of The Prey
Beginning with an introductory full-motion rock video, great graphics fill this game. You get four views from your cab (front, back, and both sides), so you always know who's around you. And there's no need to fret over any blood code - this game delivers blood up front and by the truckload. For example, when you run down pedestrians, their remains leave stains. Each level offers new vehicles to battle, and the multiple weapons and explosions add to the cool visuals.
The gothic backgrounds in these Doom-like levels scroll sweetly. Each district has its own distinctive yet macabre detail. The projects, for example are lined with burning buildings, and the trees in the park are decorated with corpses.
Grunge, Sweet Grunge
Finally! A game with music you'll really enjoy! There's nothing like listening to good tunes when you drive, and Quarantine has tons of music tracks (and even lets you select the tracks) from rock bands signed to major labels.
Good sound and voice effects complement the music. The explosions, the whistle of a launching missile, and a customer shouting for a taxi all make the overall sound an awesome experience.
Are You Talkin To Me?
Kemo City is one tough gaming environment because your controls aren't as responsive as you'd like. Shooting is easy and accurate, but driving is hard work. Making U-turns in some levels is nearly impossible, negotiating your cab around obstacles while switching weapons and views is tricky, and any quick maneuvering can get frustrating, especially when the clock is ticking down.
With graphical violence, Quarantine is adult in its nature and isn't a game for the squeamish. Nor is it a game for the impatient: The long, involved levels will keep players behind the wheel for weeks before they see the last districts.
But what a trip it is. Doom lovers looking to score more gore will dig this grim, futuristic escape saga that spares no fares.
- Save your Uzi for mass hits, such as when you face the Mad Mob in Kemo Park.
- The perimeter of each level is fortified with many mines and missile bunkers. Avoid driving close to the walls, or you'll take heavy damage.
- Your hovercab can't swim, so be extra cautious around water.
- When you bomb Omni-corp TV in the Core level, take the bomb to the station and eject it using your ejection seat.
- No rangers are patroling Kemo Park, so go offroad through trees and graveyards to save time on a fare.
- The streets are brutal on your hovercab, so splurge on protective armor as soon as you can afford it.
- A good cabbie knows the streets. Use your compass and radar as guides, but try to memorize a quick, easy route when picking up a customer.
- In the Core level, ensure a successful hit on the Lebaron Gang at the Drive-In with a healthy cab and a loaded "Reaper Rack."
- When you make your delivery to the mall in the Kemo Core, the entrance is marked by a line of orange posts.