Shrak for Quake
"Nine Awesome New Weapons! Nine Bizarre New Monsters!"—how can this not be a good thing, given the power of the Quake engine? It can not be a good thing if the finished product looks rushed out the door and if the bad guys more often look like evil Gummi Bears or, uh, flying maggots.
On the upside, if you want a new take on Quake,does do a few things differently: the most notable creative aspect to this package is the level design—not that the levels are that inspired in and of themselves, but there was obviously some time taken by the designers to give the world of Shrak its own distinct look.
Where they seem to have cut corners is in the monsters, weapons, and sound effects. Let's start with the monsters. The Light Sears (big scorpion guys) and the Goroks (nasty missile-spewing spiders) are both pretty cool on the creepiness scale. Unfortunately, the other (and far more-often encountered) monsters range from pathetic to comical—the disembodied floating eyeballs that attack with the ferocious sound of a clogged stapler are particularly pointless ... in fact, there are several monsters and weapons that seem to be in this package simply because somebody felt that quantity was more important than quality.
Speaking of the weapons, all the new goodies that look really cool on the package are brought off extremely poorly in the game. Most of the weapons look about the same when you see them lying around, and they all seem to do roughly the same damage, up to and including the strap-on chest cannon that shoots something that is either a golden bowling ball of bad karma or a really large, unpleasant French hand soap. The shotgun actually ejects shells, though, and there's a new foe-to-friend gun that lets you make new pals in a hurry, so those are something.
And, finally, there are the sound effects and "music." "Ambient digital soundtrack," the box says. Um, OK, I guess they mean the same three chords repeated for an entire level on a MIDI keyboard is ambient. Ambient like a bad headache or a chirpy on-hold advertisement. And sound effects? Aside from the aforementioned stapler, there are what sounds like a particularly evil mouse click, a drawer being shut, and someone throwing sand at a microphone.
No, I don't hate Shrak, I just think that it looks a lot more like a mad rush to cash in on the Quake faithful than a really well put-together spin-off. Remember the Aliens conversion of Doom? That's what I was looking for here -- something that would take the initial concept to a new level; but it's just not here.
There are 19 new levels in Shrak, and several of them are very challenging, even on the easy setting. Plus there's a hidden bonus level that, if you find it, can score you a shot at some cool stuff from Quantum. I've seen this package in local stores for around $15, so if you're tired of downloading Quake wads and patches and want a more coherent package, you can take a look at Shrak, but expect a lot of roughness around the edges.