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ID certainly has come a long way from the good ole' Commander Keen days. Every product that they produce always seems to be a big step ahead of their previous releases. I'm sure that many people have heard of Castle Wolfenstein 3D, but I don't think that many people have played it. Essentially it was a much cruder version of Doom. It was one of the first games that offered high speed, real 3D like movement. They borrowed the plot from the original Castle Wolfenstein game (for the Apple IIe) and pumped up the action. All you had to do was kill everything, get ammo and get out. It was simple, but effective.
The release of Doom elevated the concept to an art form. Doom was faster, had more and better graphics and could actually scare the living daylights out of you. There isn't one person that I know that has played the game seriously and didn't have nightmares. I even remember reading an article in the paper about how some university students were playing so much Doom, that they began to experience adverse psychological effects. They were walking down hallways, hugging the walls, peering around corners before turning and exhibiting general paranoid behavior. Get a grip! Anyhow, Doom did have a powerful effect on gamers everywhere. It was heart-pounding non-stop action and people couldn't get enough. People were able to create their own levels, and within a few months thousands of "non-official wads" were cropping up on Internet sites everywhere. The game kept growing and growing and growing. It made the guys at ID super-rich and essentially put the P.C. on the map as the gaming machine.
Naturally, before long Doom II came out and was another mega-hit. The game was essentially the same as Doom I, but had some behind the scenes improvements to the 3D engine. It also offered some new bad guys, and a great new weapon - the all powerful double-barreled shotgun. The game was a perfect concoction. It was well-done, extremely violent and mindless, and amazingly tailored itself to the typical American computer user - Male, between the ages of 18 and 30, violent, a firm believer in the right to bear arms (and therefore kill people - why else would you bear arms?), and desirous of a game that did not involve any thought. Essentially, what Doom was.
Fast forward two years later, and after a seemingly endless wait, the next generation of in-your-face violence has been released. The much anticipated Quake finally came out. To let you have an idea of the kind of wait and hype surrounding this game, consider it the "Dave Letterman Jumps to CBS" hype of the computer world. Everybody from the Mighty Bill Gates on down was waiting for it. In fact, the game supposedly underwent so many changes, that what came out was a surprise and ultimately a disappointment.
There would naturally be some disappointment. Anytime anything or anyone is exposed to such attention and hype, it is usually overdone. Once the product arrives, it rarely meets anyone's expectations and the bubble bursts. Quake didn't disappoint me for these reasons. There were others, such as the overall game and the lack of any new conceptual ideas.
Graphically speaking, Quake is outstanding. In this sense, it is truly ground breaking. There has never been a game that offers the environment that this games does. It has everything - real time light sources, parallaxing skies, and it is fully 3D, something that Doom never had. Each level is eerie and gloomy, and presents a very realistic pseudo-technology/fantasy world. Even more outstanding than the ground terrain are the underwater effects. It truly looks like you are underwater. You move as if you are underwater, and you even lose your breath if you stay under too long. I tip my hat off to ID for the most outstanding environment ever to date, and I can confidently say for a while yet to come.
The monsters are disappointing. Gone are the cartoon stylish drawings which have been replaced by very well done polygon shapes. To be honest, they are better than I thought they would be, and the Death Knight looks outstanding. The problem is that they aren't very scary or intimidating. For those of you who played Doom or Doom II, to this day, the sound of the bellowing Cyber-Minotaur is enough to make you run for the hills, and the scream of the Revenant is enough to make your bones chill. (And the Arch Vile - I don't even want to talk about that thing.) But in Quake, there is only one monster out of the whole lot that makes an impression on you like those in Doom did. It's called a fiend and it comes at you with single minded determination. However, by the end of the game you are simply no longer scared and just more cautious. This takes away much of the game, and makes it a big disappointment. I hope they can bring some new ones in for Quake II (there's bound! to be one).
The sound of the game is average. Sounds are crisp and clear although we loyal Sound-Blaster Pro users will no longer get stereo-sound (I don't understand why). As the monsters failed to scare us with their looks, they also fail to scare us with their grunts and groans. They simply do not intimidate. I also found the much-hyped sound track by Trent Reznor of NIN to be a total waste of time. There are no jazzy tunes to play the game to as Doom had. In fact, there is very little music at all. Most of what Reznor produced are environment sounds - like dark whispers in the background, etc... big deal. This also took away from the game.
Finally the biggest disappointment came from the overall game play. The original concept of Quake was that you would play a Thor-like figure fighting creatures with a hammer weapon on a destroyed landscape. What Quake ended up being is Doom III. You essentially have the same seven weapons, search for ammo and kill things. I couldn't believe that nothing new at all was introduced. In fact, it seems that although the graphics have improved, the game itself is worse, because we're tired of the same ole' thing. I will say that the game is harder to play because of the new looking up and down aspect. It takes a little more practice to play with more keys.
Weird things happened with the game too. When the shareware version came out, no one could get the modem connection to work. The same thing had happened with Doom II. Didn't they learn anything? Then a new version of the shareware came out, about the same time that I received my registered copy. Guess what? The modem connection still wouldn't work properly. Calling the technical support line, which they now charge for, was of no help at all, as they said they were still working on a patch for the problem.
Written by Anil Chhabra
IBM-PC compatible computer with a Pentium P-60 microprocessor or
Min 8Mb memory (16Mb recommended and required under Windows 95),
MS-DOS 5.0 or higher (does not run under Windows NT),
Hard drive required with at least 30Mb free (shareware) 80Mb free (registered),
Double speed CD-ROM drive with a sustained transfer rate of at least 300Kb per second or faster,
Local bus video card with 1Mb of RAM which is compatible with VESA 1.2 or later,
Microsoft compatible mouse.
100% Sound Blaster compatible sound card.
IMPORTANT: Quake requires a floating point processor.
Systems without an FPU installed will not run Quake at all.
Web site: id Software
GT Interactive Europe, Ltd.,
The Old Grammar School,
248 Marylebone Road,
London NW1 6JT.
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