id Software has followed up Quake with Quake II, a game that should have been called "Doom III." The company known for its revolutionary 3D corridor shooters (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom) has replaced the murky crypts and dark cathedrals of Quake with sci-fi inspired base levels and a bad "story." Well, it's about as much of a story as we can expect from id: you're a marine who has crash-landed on the Stroggos alien base. Surprise, surprise, it is now your job to escape and crumble the alien empire at the same time. Sure it's lame, but we all know that the gameplay is the important aspect of 3D corridor shooters!
Quake II is mission-oriented and features military base levels. Unlike Quake, you must complete missions in order to advance through them. These range in complexity from gaining energy cubes for powering-up a factory to setting up comlinks. Not a bad idea, in this reviewer's opinion. However, the levels are often very uninspired. The base theme of the game gets old, leaving you desperately wanting a crypt from Quake. Also replaced are the mutated monsters from hell. In Quake II, you are fighting alien machines or half-humans. The enemy AI is very good, and the characters fit in with the sci-fi theme.
They have also taken out the rather harsh and brutal weapons of Quake (Nail Gun, Axe) and replaced them with a more military efficient arsenal. New weapons include a Chaingun, Railgun, BFG (an enhanced version from the Doom games), and a Hyperblaster. They have brought back new versions of the Super Shotgun, the Rocket Launcher and Grenade Launcher. You can also throw hand grenades, which is kind of spiffy. All in all, the new weapons aren't too clever, but they get the job done.
The game "feels" nothing like Quake. Surprisingly, it feels like the Doom games. The new, enhanced version of the Quake engine is superb. Navigating the world of Quake II is very easy thanks to tight controls.
Yet the beauty of Quake II is not in the single-player game, it's in the multi-player feature. Whereas Quake was a better single-player game because of its "laggy" multi-playing, Quake II features bulletproof gameplay and relatively no lag while duking it out on the Internet. You can download multi-player modes such as Capture the Flag and the new Jailbreak. There are literally thousands of servers that allow you to play Quake II, so the possibilities are quite endless.
If not for the multi-player aspect, Quake II would just be another ho-hum corridor shooter. The game itself is good but lacks the inspiration needed to carry it above all other 3D corridor shooters released prior to 1997.
Any self-respecting gamer has experienced Quake II on the PC. Even if you haven't played the game itself, you've likely stumbled upon a different game based on the Quake II engine. The online fragfest of Quake II has taken the Internet by storm, with more clans, skins, and newsgroups than you can count. It has certainly earned its place in gaming history.
The key word there, however, is history. Quake II initially came out back in 1997, when the Macarena was at the top of the charts and the president's sex life still had some shreds of privacy. In the video game arena, two years can be a very long time.
Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the one-time king of the fragfest. With dated graphics, weak AI and a disappointing single-player experience, this game just doesn't cut the mustard. It pales in comparison to other first-person shooters for the N64, which is sad considering that Goldeneye came out before the PC version of Quake II.
The idea is as standard as it gets. An evil alien race called the Strogg is attempting to eradicate every living being on Earth. You're a Space Marine sent in to infiltrate and destroy the Strogg homeworld. The fate of the Earth rests in your capable trigger finger. In a nutshell: go kill things.
There are 2 main ways to play - Single Player and a host of Multi-Player game styles. The single player experience leaves much to be desired. The entire game has been altered from its PC counterpart, with entirely new levels and objectives to meet. However, it is still primarily a corridor-based shooter, so you get the same textures repeated over and over again. Levels are not particularly interesting nor memorable and mission goals are very easy to satisfy. This is a linear game - you always know where you need to go, and the only real task is to get there in one piece.
Standing in your way are a few bad guys. Emphasis on 'few.' Quake II includes a whopping 12 enemy types, though several of these are just upgraded versions of each other. Plus, you'll only see 2 bosses. This leads to a VERY repetitive experience.
Your weaponry is as potent as ever, including the shotgun, railgun, grenade launcher, hyperblaster, and the ever-offensive BFG10000. This is one area that Quake II has always excelled in, and the N64 version is no different. The weapon balance is excellent and you'll end up using just about everything.
Graphically, Quake II falls way short of the mark set by other first-person shooters on the N64. Unlike the uncanny realism of Goldeneye or the RAM enhanced smoothness of Turok 2, Quake II offers very little to impress. Enemies are polygonal, but horribly animated. Movements are incredibly jerky and awkward; at times it seems that whole chunks of animation were left out. Blood flows out in big, ugly pixels. While the game claims to detect expanded RAM, it's barely noticeable. This game looks more like original Doom than it should.
The sound is equally uninspiring. The enemies grunt to inform you of their presence, but that's about all you'll hear from them. The music is also precisely what you'd expect from an N64 game - weak and ambient.
Where the single player game fails, however, the multiplayer shines. There are several multiplayer options. Deathmatch is the famous kill or be killed affair, Fragteams is the team version of Deathmatch, Flagwars is a capture the flag style game, and Deathtag requires you to hold on to the flag for as long as you can before getting fragged. This adds much variety and is a step above the somewhat unsatisfying multiplayer in Turok 2.
Quake II has the same high-quality multiplayer level design you'd find in the online version. The weapons are plentiful and the layout of most levels is smart and fun. You can play against up to four of your friends, though the four-way split screen is a little too small. In general, however, multi-player is the game's biggest saving grace.
In the end, we have a game that really didn't need to be made. It can't compete with the few other first-person shooters on the N64, even though it's the most 'recent' one. Die hard Quake fans should stay away, and the rest of you should just go play Goldeneye some more. This one belongs on the PC.
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