The sounds of gunfire shatter the peace around you. You spin to see a massive shambling mound of teeth, claws and white fur rushing toward you. Fear grips your heart as you raise your double barreled shotgun to bear. It is not some strange dream. It is Quake, the latest creation by Id Software to ravage the PC game market.
Quake has turned the game market upside down. Using the same game style that has made games like Duke Nukem, Doom, Doom II and Hexen so popular, this giant of the game world has set a new standard for graphics, multi-player compatibility and game expandability. The other software companies are busily trying to catch up, wanting to be the makers of the next generation of 3D shooter.
Though the plot (what is that?) is laughable at best, Id early on decided their concern was with the multi-player (called 'Deathmatch') play of the game rather than with silly things like plot. Besides, plots only slow down the game. In a roller coaster ride of a game like Quake, Id wanted nothing to slow down your play.
The game is so graphic and motion intensive that it requires a Pentium processor to run correctly. The graphics are amazing. The animation is very smooth and even little things make sense. For instance, say you kill something and its body falls to the floor, when you walk around the body it does not rotate so that you see it only from one angle. Quake uses mostly three dimensional models, so you see things from any angle.
Composed of four different episodes (Hey Doom players, sound familiar?) the game also has a finale level where you get to fight a massive beast of insane size. You also get the option to play the game on four different difficulty levels (if you only know of three, well, guess what, you missed nightmare mode). You start out with a shotgun and can obtain up to six more weapons as you go along. They range from a more powerful double barreled shotgun, to a rocket launcher, to 'the thunderbolt' a gun that shoots lightning.
All the standard controls of the previous games apply and there are no extra objects to hold and use later. There are still keys to obtain and special runes you can pick up that augment you or your guns for a short time. There is also armor to help you shrug off those nasty blows. All of this is pretty standard, right? So what makes Quake so much better than all the others? Why is every software company out there scrambling to catch up?
The best thing about Quake is its multi-player capabilities. This is not just some networkable game that you can either play on a local area network or over a modem connection between you and a few friends; this is real multi-player power. Quake has set the standard for multi-player games that has on-line internet game companies running scared.
For the longest time people have been playing multi-player games over the internet using outside software like TEN or Kali. Quake has smashed the futures of these software packages by offering free multi-player play. When you buy the game you get the ability to run multi-player games over the internet. You log onto the internet using your internet service provider. Then you launch the Quake game. You tell Quake the IP address of the game you want to play on and you are there in no time at all. You can even host your own games.
Like most things in life, there are limits, and unless you have a lot of patience you can not run a server with more than four people. Fortunately there are plenty of servers out there that accept as many as 16 players at a time. If you really want to get interesting you can even play on a modified server.
Id has allowed players to program server modifications (or server mods). With these mods you may find that gravity is higher or lower than normal, or perhaps that rocket launcher now shoots dogs (I know it sounds silly, but I have seen it)! Server mods do almost anything, the most popular of which are the 'capture the flag' mods.
In the 'capture the flag' mods players divide into two teams, a red team and a blue team. The object is to find the other players 'flag' (a key of either gold or silver color) and return it to your base. At the same time you have to prevent the other team from stealing your 'flag'.
You get points (the same thing as kills on other servers) for either killing an opponent, capturing their flag, or returning their flag to your base while your flag is still there. A neat little extra 'capture the flag' server mod is the Grappling Hook.
This is basically a weapon that shoots out a grapple on a cord, reeling you in to wherever you aim it (the ceiling, the wall, the pillar, the enemy). Then you can hang there and pull out another weapon and fire at your opponents from some interesting places.
Imagine your opponent walking through a door only to be attacked from above by a rocket launcher (can you say 'messy'?). Also imagine what combining weapons can do. You grapple your foe and pull yourself to him, then switch to the double barreled shotgun and unload into him.
Basically, if you have not yet played the gore filled, explosion ridden, monster slugfest that is Quake, then crawl out from under that rock you have been hiding under and rush down to your local software store and buy it. You will not be sorry. For more information, lots of gadgets, or even a trial version try pointing your web browser at http://www.stomped.com or http://www.idsoftware.com.
Originally Printed in the December Issue of Rant Magazine