You invested your cash in the full version of Quake. You've completed all of the episodes on nightmare difficulty using only the axe. Your clan kicks major butt. The mere mention of your name brings shudders to deathmatchers everywhere. What's a Quaker to do now? Try Shrak, the first total conversion of Quake. With 9 awesome new weapons, 9 bizarre new monsters, 21 new levels (deathmatch and Capture-The-Flag, too), new sound FX, and a new digital soundtrack, Shrak promises to bring some new blood to good old Quake.
The story (as if you really care) goes like this: The "normal" human population fled from the earth after the last of the wars. The mutants left behind have begun to revive the technology that started it all. These mutants are being led by an unknown mutant named Shrak. You come back to earth to check things out and inadvertently crash land. Your mission is to eradicate Shrak and his mutant clan, collect the circuit cards to repair your ship, and get the heck off of earth and back to the safety of your new world.
The 12 levels in Shrak show a high degree of originality. Some have a great deal of underwater exploration, some have many open spaces, bridges, and cages. The places you must go to find keys are not immediately obvious. Overall, the levels are very well done. There are additionally 6 deathmatch-only levels, and 3 levels specifically made for capture the flag.
There are 3 new utilities to help you get through the levels: a flare, a claw, and plastic explosives. The utilities are found in increments of 5 in utility vests scattered throughout the levels. Each vest holds 5 of each utility. The flare lights up those dark corridors, not terribly useful, but a nice touch. The claw is especially interesting. It's a grappling hook that can be thrown and used to access areas you couldn't otherwise reach. Can't figure out how to access that ledge above you? Choose the claw as your weapon, point it where you'd like to be, and fire. You're pulled up onto the ledge. Very handy! The plastic explosive is used similarly. Choose it as your weapon, point at what you want to blow up and fire. After about 5 seconds or so, BOOM!
The monsters are all very weird, mostly of the mutant variety. Zed, Ohmi, Viscor (has 2 heads), and RucasRiot are human-variants. Strike is a floating eyeball that shoots lightning, Firecrawler is a huge slugs that shoots fireballs and Lightsear & Gorok are huge scorpions and spiders, respectively. Shrak... well, nobody human has ever seen him and lived to tell about it.
The weapons you use to eliminate these monsters vary from the ho-hum to the bizarre. The laser pistol, double-barreled shotgun, liquid-cooled UZI, and rocket launcher are standard tools of the 3D gamer. The rest are unique. The converter changes the brain of the enemy and causes them to leave you alone and go after others. The HFB launcher causes the enemies to bounce up and down a few times then explode. They don't tell us what HFB stands for, but my guess is High-Frequency Bouncer. The weirdest and funniest of the weapons is the Inflator Darts. Shoot a few of these into an enemy and he'll inflate, turn horizontally, rise above the floor, and explode like a popped balloon. This effect has to be seen - it's hilarious!
Graphics: The new graphics are very good. The monsters are very good-looking for the most part. Firecrawler (the slug) is especially good - shoot him once with the shotgun and notice the blood and shotgun wounds on him. On the other hand, Zed is a bit bland, with a very dull brown texture. The whole atmosphere is bit brighter than Quake, but you still have that overall dungeon-like quality to the whole game.
Interface & Gameplay: The interface and Gameplay are exactly the same as in Quake. If you know how to play Quake, you know how to play Shrak.
Sound FX: The original shipping version that I received had recycled a few of the original Quake sounds and they did not fit in at all. With the new Version 1.2 patch, original sound FX are added and all is well. They are now original sound FX of your typical Quake variety: guns blasting, monsters roaring (and dying), and water running.
Musical Score: It's hard to beat NIN for a deadly musical score, but Shrak does a good job of trying. There is a new track for every level and they range from slow, somber tunes to upbeat killing tunes. Music was done by Bonetribe who did an excellent job on the audio!
Intelligence & Difficulty: The intelligence doesn't seem to vary from the original. Some enemies see you and rush you. Some of them shoot you from afar. The intelligence seems the same. Just like Quake, there are 3 different levels of difficulty: "Don't want to fall down and go boom", "Weekend Warrior", and "I'm gonna kick EVERYONE'S ASS". The levels in Shrak are fairly challenging. They are very intricate and require some thought to figure out.
Overall: There are only 12 solo levels, so the time to complete won't be very long for the hardcore gamer, but Shrak has enough new monsters, weapons, sounds, and levels to make the download worth it. If you're into multiplayer, the lifetime of Shrak will be greatly extended by the deathmatch and capture-the-flag levels.
People who downloaded Shrak for Quake have also downloaded:
Malice: 23rd Century Ultraconversion for Quake, Quake, Quake 2, Quake 4, Quake Mission Pack No. 2: Dissolution of Eternity, Quake Mission Pack No 1: Scourge of Armagon, Quake 3 Arena, Demon Gate: 666 New Levels for Doom & Doom II
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