[REVIEW] Quake

Developer: GT Interactive
Publisher: Id Software
Release: 1996
Platform: DOS, Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Amiga, Nintendo 64, Saturn
Genre: Dark Fantasy / First Person Action Horror
OFLC Rating: MA15+

1996, a year that saw some memorable hits for entertainment as a whole and one of Australia’s infamous events in history – The Port Arthur Massacre. Let’s get a few things clear…
Nobody likes a bloody massacre in their “Back Yard”. I have nothing against gun control. What I don’t appreciate, is knee-jerk censorship as a result of massacres such this one – Why do you think we computer game enthusiasts pushed for an R18+ classification???
1996 was also the year Id Software unleashed yet another “Game-Changer”, that is Quake. This was also the last great game before John Romero left Id Software – Id’s greatest work (as remembered fondly by enthusiasts) was with Carmack and Romero at the helm, but I digress.
Quake was the first time a first person shooter moved on from using two dimensional sprites in three dimensional environment and rendered everything in 3D! Quake’s style of movement allow jumping and free-aiming via the mouse along with the abilities to execute tighter technical manoeuvres. Quake’s story and setting was a departure from Doom’s visions of Hell, making way for a world drawing inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s work along having enemies with a Hellraiser-esque appearance to them. The story draws some similarities to Doom dealing with inter-dimensional travel out military installations and the use of what sounds like an arsenal of conventional weapons, is about as “Sci-Fi” as it gets with Quake, otherwise you’re dealing with dark fantasy with the gothic vibe going on.
Quake’s single player experience begins at “The Entryway” where you select your difficult level and episodes by walking down corresponding hallways. First up you choose one of the four following difficulties: Easy being the passage on the left resembling a simple walk down. Normal walking up over ramp down the centre hallway. Hard down the passage to the right, requiring you jump over a pool of lava which can easily kill you. Then there’s Nightmare difficulty, which is hidden within the episode selection hub. Each episode will take you to a different dimension where you must fight your way though and collect one of the four runes that will take you to final challenge. The four episodes are as follows: Dimension of the Doomed, The Realm of Black Magic, The Netherworld and The Elderworld. Starting one of these episodes will take you to a military installation where you fight your way through soldiers and attack dogs to reach the Slipgate that will take you that dimension.
Once inside, you will find yourself in dark gothic settings faced with all manor demonic foes. Unlike Doom, these demons will each require certain weapons and tactics to beat – In other words, you will have to know your enemy and be prepared to respond to each one of them. This is where Quake differs from Doom…
Doom is terrifying, especially to both newcomers and the feint of heart. But that terror can quickly turn to rage upon putting down a clever ambush making for some seriously adrenaline pumping gameplay. While Quake is built upon everything that made Classic Doom (Ultimate Doom & Hell on Earth) that made it the monster hit experience that was, Quake is remembered for being both brutal and technical. Quake’s allows for tight manoeuvres demonstrating some serious feats of speed and agility by way of finely executed movement combinations. Aside from being able to traverse levels like a “Bat out of Hell”, players with aid of their Rocket Launchers can execute the “Rocket Jump” – This is done by firing at your feet while simultaneously jumping effectively turning this weapon into a high powered pogo-stick that can easily kill you without sufficient health and armour to mitigate the slash damage. While these might have been consider exploits to gain unfair advantages, Id’s level design embraces them as “Combat Discipline”.
Being a first person shooter it would not talk about tools you’re going to need to survive this crazy labyrinth of death. In Quake there are four types of ammunition and a total of eight weapons, they are as follows.
Firstly you have the Axe, useful for when you run out of ammunition… Just don’t get too used to using it, as it’s barely good a providing an adequate means of self-defence. Mine you, it makes a handy weapon for “Hit ‘N’ Run” style trolling.
Using Shells (yes, 12 Gauge) are the Shotgun and Super Shotgun (Double Barrel Sawn-Off). Because shells are the most common type of ammunition in the game, the shotguns will play a major role in your arsenal. The regular Shotgun offers a decent rate of fire and range, making it ideal for wearing down targets from a distance. Whereas the Super Shotgun has a slower rate of fire and shorter range yet deals a significantly more damage, ideal for close quarters action.
Using Nails… Yes, you are reading this correctly!
The Ammunition boxes display the Nine Inch Nails (NIN) logo on them, and that along with their use is probably due to (the band’s front man) Trent Reznor’s involvement with the game’s development working on both Quake’s atmospheric CD soundtrack and sound design.
Nails are used for both the Nailgun (a twin-barrelled SMG-type weapon) and Super Nailgun (resembling a four barrel Gatling Gun). The regular Nailgun makes for good close quarters combat peppering your foes whilst running circles around them. Whereas the Super Nailgun works like a traditional machinegun mowing down charging foes from down range. Anyway you look it, the nailguns are excel at dealing a constant stream of damage.
Next up you have explosives or “Rockets” that are used by the Grenade Launcher and (previously mentioned) Rocket Launcher. The Grenade Launcher is an interesting weapon as many might dismiss it as being rather useless compared the Rocket Launcher – However, this weapon does have its place as you have the ability to shoot around corners by way of bouncing grenades. The Rocket Launcher fires rockets in a straight line and best used at a distance from tougher foes that aren’t likely to rush you in a heartbeat. Like most shooters, explosive based weapons can kill you with the splash damage from the explosions.
Finally, you have the Thunderbolt which uses (energy) Cells. This particular weapon is an oddity for Id game, as it is quite the departure from Doom’s all-powerful BFG 9000. Unlike the BFG, the Thunderbolt did deal concentrated damage capable of clearing rooms. Instead, it fired a stream of electricity requiring you to maintain line of sight on your target. While this bad boy could fry up a horde of lesser foes, larger ones could easily drain your batteries. Just be careful not fire it while immersed in liquid (ie Water).
Along with the arsenal of weapons you also have your assortment of armour and power-ups, most notable of these being the “Quad Damage” which amplifies damage by four times for a short period of time.
When it comes to enemies, soldiers are the least of your worries when compared to the “Big Bad Four”…
The most common of these is the Ogre. No, not Shrek. These guys are about six foot something, beige and burly cantankerous sods armed with a grenade launcher and chainsaw! Stand close enough to them and they will show you their impression of Leatherface (that chainsaw wielding hillbilly from Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Stand out of striking distance and they’ll keep spamming you with grenades. Being slow, you can take these guys down with nailguns and the SSG up close.
Next up you have the five foot nine hairless horned ape-like demon with the most menacing set of claws known to mortal kind that is the Fiend – The epitome of savagery. When I mention tough foes that can rush you in a heartbeat – This mean piece of work will leap at in a split second and will cut you to pieces with every swing of its long claws. To beat these psychos, you will need agile footwork and quick trigger finger.
Then you have the Vore, a spider-like demon known for hurling deadly homing attacks. Depending on how ruthless you are, then can be beating either by going toe to toe with them or taken down using “Hit ‘N’ Run” methods in order to avoid being struck by their attacks.
Then there’s the big guy every player remembers – The Shambler!
He’s the Abominable Snowman who is anything but cute and cuddly. This guy is white, furry, has sharp claws, stands around eight foot and has a disposition to rival Godzilla’s. At a distance the Shambler will throw a bolt of lightning at you and up close he will tear you apart – Quite literally! Beating a Shambler without so much as scratch will give you a taste for the tight and technical side of Quake’s gameplay.
Aside from these mention foes, there are others which can kill you just as easily should you let your guard down. However, there are two who are easy by comparison. Chthon (The final boss for the Shareware Version / First Episode) and Shrub-Niggurath (Final Boss for the entire game). Whilst these two are the only featured enemies from Lovecraft’s dark fantasy, they are each beaten by completing a surprisingly simple puzzle.
Quake may have a brutally challenging single player experience, but this is the game that open the doors for the fiercely competitive professional gaming scene and rich modding communities we now know today!
While Quake Live is the official game being played in the profession circuits, there is still a strong community of players and modders being the original game even today. Running Quake, your best bet is buying playing the Steam copy. However, whether or not you have a copy of the game already – The best way to play this is by using a source port. Take the highly recommended Dark Places engine for example. Install / unpack the original game onto your system, then place the contents of the Dark Places ZIP-File into the game’s root directory and you’re pretty much good to go. In fact, Dark Places is a source port I would strongly recommend as well, given it allows you to run on modern X86 systems along with offering a good deal of flexibility and easy multiplayer connectivity.
Overall, Quake is an action horror experience that still holds up today.

Final Thoughts

First time I saw the ads for it in computer game magazines, I was wondering what this game was all about – Especially being Id game. First time I played it… Staring at a Shambler just out of striking distance certainly manages to raise the pulse. While the game maybe abstract in appearance compared to Doom, Quake still manages pack in a rich art-style while immersing you in a tense atmosphere at the same time.

Is Quake still worth the purchase today?

If gothic dark fantasy action games are your thing, then Quake will have plenty to see there.
If you consider yourself a connoisseur of Id Software’s finer work, then Quake is worth adding to your collection if you haven’t already.
If you’re feeling drained from today’s action games and looking to immerse yourself in something oldschool… Look no further than The Godfather of online action games!

Report Card

Quality: A
Gameplay: A
Content: A
Skill: B
Technical: A
Value: A
Audience: Adult

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