Review by Yojimbo_Beta

"Dull, dull, dull."

I'd missed Quake 2 the first time around. But after playing hours of shooters across scores of systems, I couldn't help but feel a nagging urge to finally play what had once been lauded as the king of FPS games. So I managed to find a bargain bin copy, got it running without too much trouble and sat down.

Two hours in, something occurred to me.

This wasn't fun.

I'd loved the original Quake. Despite its lack of plot and thematic inconsistencies, it was an accessible, visceral shooter that created tension without unfair tricks, simple but pleasurable. Quake II, on the other hand... is simply consummately dull. Levels are bland, and involve little more than going from A to B, shooting monsters, and pushing a button or obtaining some MacGuffin to reach the next room. Quake didn't offer that much variation, but it was fast, and never outstayed its welcome. Quake II, however, felt as though it consisted of one long trek through a generic military base, a blandly coloured, blandly playing, shooting gallery. Quake was quite beatable, but opponents were potent enough and quick enough to still pose a threat, and skirmishes were short but intensive. But Q2 is the very opposite: the AI improvements, such as the increased evasive manoeuvres, only lengthen and dilute the experience, and weapons feel as though they have been neutered: lacking potency, even lacking the chunky sound of their predecessors. The Rail Gun was nice, but what happened to the meaty blast of the shotgun, and the wonderfully over-the-top gibbing we'd seen before? Where was the infamous Rocket Launcher that made Quake deathmatches so complex and difficult to master? And why, to ask the last question, did I just not care? Why didn't I care about playing through Q2?

And it was this, realizing that I continued playing more through a sense of obligation than anything else, that helped me reach my epiphany: Quake 2 is a boring game. Drab colours, samey opponents, and repetitive gameplay.

I'm not claiming that Q2 is a terrible game. The music is nice, the game polished and bug-free, and certain AI quirks - the way that opponents sometimes manage to continue firing long after death - break the monotony. For the time, the engine was rather good, and it's nice to see level design a little less linear than that of the original Quake, even if, in practice, these alternatives had little bearing on the player's experience. Multiplayer matches aren't so bad, and the game's popularity has meant that there's plenty of homebrew addons and maps available for download. But, a minute after my realization, I'd started up the original Quake again. And that says it all.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 02/10/09

Game Release: Quake II (US, 11/30/97)

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