Review by antseezee

Reviewed: 09/13/03

Terminate alien existence on a freakish world.

If there has been one formula that has been copied throughout numerous games, it has always been the idea of an evil alien race invading a planet. In most situations, you're placed as the sole hero who can stop the evil invasion. While the Quake series has always been regarded as a ''graphical masterpiece of gibs and violence'', Quake II continues the same formula that made the original such a classic hit. Quake 2 puts you in the role of an Earth Space Marine. You're given orders to attack a Strogg (the bad guys) Alien Spaceship, but all of a sudden, you're shot down during your flight. You end up crash landing on the Strogg home planet, which isn't good considering the odds are about 3,000 to 1. Q2 is a first person shooter that involves plenty of guns, exploding guts, and objectives you have to accomplish on missions. Since you're the only surviving human on the Strogg planet, central command gives you orders to practically sabotage and eliminate all alien resistance on the planet. While it sounds simpler than making a peanut butter n' jelly sandwich, Quake 2 is far from your typical FPS. Developed by iD software, prepare to play one of the more premiere shooters out there.

Graphics [10/10]
Visuals are what set apart your typical 3D shooter from the surreal experiences out there. Quake II features some of the most eye-popping graphics (for its time), while still being able to withstand the test of time. First off, Q2 is a 3D first person shooter, which means the entire game takes place from a first person view. Inside the view of your fellow space marine, you can see the weapon your holding and surrounding environment. Quake 2 features amazing in-game models. Enemies and characters each have gruesome limbs, protruding edges, and blood spattered uniforms. Watching a fellow ''infested'' marine grapple at his head in frustration really shows the amount of detail iD software put into their game. Enemies have modified weapons molded into their skin, and you can even blow organic objects into piles of gibs. The sheer amount of graphic detail is enough to award Q2 with its own shiny bloody medallion. Weapons are structured in a realistic fashion, while holding a sense of variety. Your shotguns have conical barrels, and your futuristic weapons each have their own ''strange-looking'' designs. Rail guns look like they literally shoot out train rails, as you can see the weapon animations clearly and distinctly.

The most impressive inclusion by far is level designs. Quake II looks like a realistic game based on the fact that your surroundings envelope you in that hostile alien environment. Different maps have structural designs, such as a reactor core, or industrial factory. Certain maps may show off geometric designs, like circulating stairways, and plenty of elevators. It's almost as if an artist assumed control of the map designers, and laid out a perfect design. At the same time, most maps have different textures. For example, in the final level, you'll tend to notice more daemonic symbols letting you know of the final boss. However, in your typical destructed environments, technical components and computer parts may litter the walls throughout. As in style, Q2 continues the beautiful display of hardware by showing smooth animations and framerate. Hardly once did I ever come across a framerate slowdown, even with multiple enemies and/or special effects. Enemies will die in certain fashions showing off fluent animations. Sometimes a common grunt will carefully aim, and take his last shot before completely dying. Others may simply fall face first. There's a fine line between perfect and good graphics - Quake 2 crosses that line with no resistance.

Sound/Music [9/10]
Any type of foreign environment is usually filled with strange and odd sounding yelps. Perhaps you'll hear the screams of the dead in some horror drama, or the urban city life of a commuting city. Quake 2 manages to create its own environment thanks to some very impressive sound effects. Engaging enemies with various weapons will make appropriate sounds. Your rail guns make distinct sounds, letting you know of strange emissions and dangerous chemical ejections. Firing a chain gun makes a rapid fire motion, almost as if you were tearing a zipper apart. When you trudge along the terrain of the Strogg homeland, you'll hear aircraft and vehicles flying in the background. Even your enemies will taunt, yell, and groan at you in pain or suffering. Id software managed to upkeep that strange foreign environment, which presents the eery feeling as if you were the sole survivor of a crash. Not only that, but the quality of voice clips is outstanding. As you progress through the game, voice clips will play on your radio comm to update you on the situation. Music is not as prevalent throughout Q2. There are only a few tunes played throughout the game, and most of them are generic rock sounds. However, for the most part, they're enough to get the job done.

Gameplay [8/10]
Being a ruthless marine without any emotions is a difficult task. However, being a ruthless gamer while showing no mercy is such an easy task thanks to Quake 2. Q2 is your basic ''gibs-in-the-blender'' first person shooter where it tends to combine more arcade elements, rather than realism. After being presented by a decent storyline, you take place of a lone marine on an alien infested planet. Starting with only your blaster, you must find more weapons, complete objectives, and kill the Strogg leader who has made your career a living nightmare. Quake II builds upon the original hit by adding better graphics, more impressive sounds, and an overall better gameplay system. Unlike the previous Quake, Quake 2 actually tries to connect missions with some logicality. Most of the objectives you complete on each level intertwine with the next to continue the storyline. Gathering the Data CD will eventually be used in a computer, and that computer will most likely shutdown a reactor. However, what makes Q2 such a distinctive game is its pure carnage that it can unleash. Players blast their ways through several enemies on each level (30+), often wasting hundreds of shell casings.

Since Q2 is a fully 3D first person shooter, the gamer can look in all directions. Using your mouse to look around, and keyboard to navigate, controls are made simple thanks to the PC. The mouse wheel makes switching between weapons an easy task, and most keys correspond to some item you can use. For the most part, gamers can blend into Q2's playing system in a matter of minutes. Most of the game's playing system is based off of the typical formula. Levels are systematically laid out in a linear format. Often, you'll find yourself navigating for a special key card, which in turn, can be used on a locked door you previously passed by. Quake 2 helps keep a refreshing aspect to the gameplay by following objectives, rather than simply Duke Nuking your way through a level. Larger enemies tend to be placed in important positions. Opponents will actually ambush you if you pick up a special item, or pass a certain sector. Unlike previous games, Q2 allows the player to back track so he can feel more freedom throughout gameplay. Plus, as you continue through the game, you'll eventually get bigger guns which can cause more mass destruction.

Even if you're having a fun-filled time, Quake II does have some downfalls. The biggest flaw I've noticed in the gameplay system is that it does get tedious after awhile. The game never truly seems to get complex. Levels continue to repeat with pointless objectives, like shutting down numerous generators, and ''knocking off'' communication systems. While the game does manage to provide that terrified feeling of being marooned on a planet, it also seems a bit strange at times. There are numerous torture devices and violent images which can be inappropriate to younger kids. Ambushes are easily detectable, and seem almost predictable as you get ready to pick up an important item. While the game does contain powerups, and various accessories, none of them are necessary to finishing the game. Most players can make by without using one special powerup you pick up during the game. It just seems like Quake 2 is filled with pointless objects just to distract the player. Of course, it's a solid gaming engine nonetheless. You don't have to worry about faulty glitches, bad physics, or what not. This is about as top quality as you can get.

Fun [9/10]
One of the biggest complaints with generic first person shooters is a lack of fun. If a game has a short single player campaign, or a lacking multiplayer mode, people will quickly trash it for the better competition. Quake 2 brings nothing negative to the table as it is one of the most fun FPS's out there. Besides the typical blast-out gameplay, Q2 also shows off some more comical standpoints. Pressing a button to a torture device will sometimes kill the organic subject inside. Players become accustomed to a conservative attitude by constantly watching their ammo left over. As a matter of fact, you may find yourself constantly switching weapons just to save up some ammo for another. It's almost like managing stocks. Quake II also contains a few mini-bosses here and there. On one level, you'll find yourself facing a huge rocket-fused tank. On another level, several helicopter bosses will fire chain guns and rockets at you. Q2 helps shift the atmosphere from a seemingly endless deathmatch shooter, to a more engaging action-packed sequel. Cut scenes will fill the screen during level shifts, progressing the story and giving you more orders.

Replayability [10/10]
Compared to the N64 and PS versions, the PC version of Quake II blows them both out of the water. Q2 includes not only an expansive single player campaign, but also a free online multiplayer mode. The single player campaign is linked between 20+ missions with various objectives, weapons, and different enemies along the way. Each map is usually linked by a previous objective, and the storyline gets progressed as you move along. However, the biggest surprise was the online capabilities of Quake II. Gamers can load GameSpy, and play against plenty of other Quake 2 players for no fee. Not only that, but it has support for up to as many players as the server dedicates (usually 32). Different game matches can be played such as your typical deathmatch, or team deathmatch. There are plenty of modifications for Q2. Games such as Freeze Tag, Action Quake 2, and Capture the Flag become commonplaces in the gaming society. If you want more skins, weapons, or models, you can download them easily off of websites. The PC version of Quake 2 differs so greatly compared to the other versions based on replay value alone.

Difficulty [4/10]
Most shooting games feature seemingly hard tasks to accomplish, or thousands of enemies. While Quake II features an awesome gameplay system, assisted by amazing presentation, it does suffer from a lack of difficulty. Q2 is mainly based after your arcade-like shooters, where your character has plenty of health/body armor. Frequently, your ''hard-nosed'' space marine can take a grenade or rocket to the body without twitching. Unlike other games which present realism, Quake 2 is nothing close to it. Enemies also take several shotgun blasts, or rockets before falling to their death. After awhile, it seems more like a hindering task to constantly click the mouse button, rather than actually killing the enemies. The actual computer AI is very improved. Enemies will now duck to avoid shots, and run in diagonal patterns to avoid your projectiles. Still, most gamers can beat the relatively long single player campaign in a little over 10 hours. Bosses simply don't present the challenge of a boss, and feel like ammo-wasting globs of fat. Thankfully, there are three different difficulty modes you can select from (easy, normal, hard). Most gamers who can aim with a rail gun will find Quake 2 to be an extremely easy game.

Final Factor [9/10]
While most games can either be exceptionally innovative, or seemingly average, Quake 2 is definitely one of the high quality shooters out there. It features supped up graphics, excellent background sounds, and an impressive gaming engine. Developed by the popular iD software, you know this is one of their best works yet. Even if Q2 presents the image of a typical deathmatch shooter, it's the options and compatibility that set it apart. With plenty of support from the online community, and numerous side modifications, players will find plenty of replay value in this somewhat outdated game. If you're looking for the best top-notch shooter out there, you may want to consider Quake 3. However, do not be confused. Quake 2 is still a solid game for being well over 5 years old. Most players can cling with this game like oysters to a sea boat.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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