I’d much rather save Natalya again.
Any self-respecting gamer has experienced Quake
II on the PC. Even if you haven’t played the game itself, you’ve likely stumbled
upon a different game based on the Quake II engine. The online fragfest
of Quake II has taken the Internet by storm, with more clans, skins, and
newsgroups than you can count. It has certainly earned its place in gaming history.
The key word there, however,
is history. Quake II initially came out back in 1997, when the
Macarena was at the top of the charts and the president’s sex life still had
some shreds of privacy. In the video game arena, two years can be a very long
Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the one-time king of the fragfest.
With dated graphics, weak AI and a disappointing single-player experience, this
game just doesn’t cut the mustard. It pales in comparison to other first-person
shooters for the N64, which is sad considering that Goldeneye
came out before the PC version of Quake II.
The idea is as standard as it gets. An evil alien race called the Strogg is
attempting to eradicate every living being on Earth. You’re a Space Marine sent
in to infiltrate and destroy the Strogg homeworld. The fate of the Earth rests
in your capable trigger finger. In a nutshell: go kill things.
There are 2 main ways to play – Single Player and a host of Multi-Player game
styles. The single player experience leaves much to be desired. The entire game
has been altered from its PC counterpart, with entirely new levels and objectives
to meet. However, it is still primarily a corridor-based shooter, so you get
the same textures repeated over and over again. Levels are not particularly
interesting nor memorable and mission goals are very easy to satisfy. This is
a linear game – you always know where you need to go, and the only real task
is to get there in one piece.
Standing in your way are a few bad guys. Emphasis on ‘few.’ Quake II includes a whopping 12 enemy types, though several of these are just upgraded versions of each other. Plus, you’ll only see 2 bosses. This leads to a VERY repetitive experience.
Your weaponry is as potent as ever, including the shotgun, railgun, grenade launcher, hyperblaster, and the ever-offensive BFG10000. This is one area that Quake II has always excelled in, and the N64 version is no different. The weapon balance is excellent and you’ll end up using just about everything.
Graphically, Quake II
falls way short of the mark set by other first-person shooters on the
N64. Unlike the uncanny realism of Goldeneye or the RAM enhanced smoothness
2, Quake II offers very little to impress. Enemies are polygonal,
but horribly animated. Movements are incredibly jerky and awkward; at times
it seems that whole chunks of animation were left out. Blood flows out in big,
ugly pixels. While the game claims to detect expanded RAM, it’s barely noticeable.
This game looks more like original Doom than it should.
The sound is equally uninspiring. The enemies grunt to inform you of their
presence, but that’s about all you’ll hear from them. The music is also precisely
what you’d expect from an N64 game – weak and ambient.
Where the single player game fails, however, the multiplayer shines. There are several multiplayer options. Deathmatch is the famous kill or be killed affair, Fragteams is the team version of Deathmatch, Flagwars is a capture the flag style game, and Deathtag requires you to hold on to the flag for as long as you can before getting fragged. This adds much variety and is a step above the somewhat unsatisfying multiplayer in Turok 2.
Quake II has the same high-quality multiplayer level design you’d find in the online version. The weapons are plentiful and the layout of most levels is smart and fun. You can play against up to four of your friends, though the four-way split screen is a little too small. In general, however, multi-player is the game’s biggest saving grace.
In the end, we have a game that really didn’t need to be made. It can’t compete
with the few other first-person shooters on the N64, even though it’s the most
‘recent’ one. Die hard Quake fans should stay away, and the rest of you
should just go play Goldeneye some more. This one belongs on the PC.