Review by grasu
"A multiplayer opus magnum."
The first Quake was as important to the FPS genre as Doom or Half-Life. It was a game that was mind numbingly fast paced, it had tons of weapons, boat loads of nightmarish monsters and the best multiplayer action the world had ever seen.
Quake 2 made its PC debut a little over 1 year after it's older brother. Behind its state of the art graphics, and multitude of new weapons, the same genius that made Quake into such a phenomenon laid dormant.
The true merits of Quake 2 can never be seen while playing the game off line. A true appreciation of what this game did for gaming can only be seen when opening up Gamespy and going at it in Quake 2. This game is so crucial to multiplayer gaming that words can hardly describe its contributions.
Few older games can pride themselves with graphical immortality. Quake can, not only do that, but it has proven to the world that its engine can last the test of time for decades! To this day, if you've ever played Half-Life (and there are millions of people who do so every day) or if you've ever played Anachronox (2001) you've seen the Quake 2 engine in action. This game is to graphical engines as the Bible is to Christians.
That being said, Quake 2 is not graphically time-robust. The textures and polygons used in the original are laughable by today's standards and the lighting and shading effects can only be taken seriously by those who haven't seen Half-Life or Quake 3 in action. These graphical nuances don't really detract from the game very much though. Unlike in FF7 (or other games whose engines get in the way of gameplay) the Quake 2 engine will never make it cumbersome for the player to game.
The engine can be bumped up to huge resolutions and the art design is second to none, combining the grotesqueness of Doom with the post-apocalyptic vision of Quake or Fallout. The levels are huge, and while the tile sets don't do them justice all the time, they are varied enough not to become boring over the games considerable length. The weapons are all very well designed and sport complex animation along with some very good lighting for the time.
Nine Inch Nails' fast paced soundtrack is the only thing that you need to know about Quake 2's sound. The superb soundtrack composed by one of the best industrial metal groups of all time transposes the urgency of the game through sound like no other before it.
Thanks in part to the full use of surround sound and the masterfully woven sound effects; the music makes Quake 2 an auditory nirvana. It's impossible to comprehend now-a-days what one felt when the booming soundtrack of Quake 2 surrounded them from all sides, piercing their ears with superb music and monstrous sound effects. From the lowly gun sound to the growl of the demons this is one game that did as much for sound as it did for graphics.
A truly amazing auditory achievement.
Quake 2's strongest point is also its weakest: Gameplay. Quake 2 doesn't bring anything entirely new to the Quake formula, it hardly adds enough material to be considered "revolutionary" but it is, essentially, Quake and that makes all the difference.
Out of the few improvements that Quake 2 brings to the Quake series the single player campaign is by far the most important of them. The campaign is actually story-based and it has objectives for you to complete, which is something id isn't really know to do. The campaign also has smarter AI and an ingenious level design that has you traveling through the mazes of the facility. The whole story intertwines with this ingenious level and monster design to bestow upon the player an increased sense of fear and tension as he or she goes through the game.
In order to achieve this fear though, monsters are required. The enemies in Quake 2 aren't terribly varied, mostly focusing on soldiers turned zombies and other freaks of nature, but they get the point across quickly. Soldiers used AI patterns that were virtually unseen at the time, as they scurried for help or went around the corner to avoid fire from the player's weapons. Quake 2 could've put the AI to better use though, as the game had no bots or anything of the sort in multiplayer.
As one traveled through the levels that id prepared one got this true feeling of accomplishment. The levels in Quake 2 were huge, multileveled and totally interconnected, sprinkled with weapons and power-ups ranging from health, to scuba-gear and the mother of all power-ups: Quake Damage. The levels were also filled with weapons, as you'd expect. The weapons ranged from pistols, to shotguns, to machineguns, to rocket launchers, to the infamous BFG and the Rail gun.
What made Quake 2 a masterpiece though, cannot be found on any list. The combination of all of these items in a frantic multiplayer deathmatch was the ultimate gift that Quake 2 offered to gamers.
The frantic deathmatch rush which was associated with Quake games came back in full force for Quake 2. The weapons were the first on the scene to sound the trumpet and begin the new age of multiplayer.
As the weapons which now ranged from pistols, that slowly chewed up your life, to grenades that prolonged the volatility of a dead player the weapons in Quake 2 made the balance of multiplayer change once and for all. No longer was the guy with the rocket launcher king of the hill, as you could quickly fill his ass with the hot lead of your submachine gun or the electrifying shock of the rail gun. No longer was camping an option; the speed at which players moved was so great that simply sitting atop a pile of boxes made you a sitting duck.
The maps were ingeniously designed to provide for this. From the frantic deathmatches of small maps to the prolonged hunts of the larger maps the kind of rumble in ones gut as he approached a new corner or turned around to check if he was followed cannot even begin to be described in words. And the maps themselves ranged from enclosed spaces to wide open areas, in which one could simply get shot while going up the elevator.
Of course, there were also power-ups, which made the game even more insane. One can hardly put in words the kind of rush the player felt when the ominous voice echoed "Quake Damage" and everyone in that server was automatically on high alert for the bastard with the Quake and the rail gun. The kind of insane jumping, running and shooting that happened during those sequences will never be repeated again in modern gaming.
Quake 2 also provided support for many players to battle at once. The number of players increased, with patches and the like, and reached a maximum of 32. All of those players could join by simply using the new browser tool called: Quakespy. Internet play was flawless and endless. People played day and night without stopping until their very own eyes bled. The caliber of player that played Quake 2 made it impossible for newbies to get a hang of the game (which was ultimately the game's downfall) but it kept the level of challenge as high as possible and the dullness to zero.
Never again will these feeling flood gamers as they did the first time while playing Quake 2.
Quake 2 was a multiplayer game, it's ultimate victory and it's ultimate demise. As Quake grew old, Half-Life replaced it and now this game is but a relic.
Even with the many mods that first appeared using the Quake 2 engine, even with the frantic multiplayer, even with all the great weapons, these were one-time feelings. Feelings each game, with better graphics and more weapons, gave us and we all quickly moved looked the other way.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/04/05
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