20 Years of Quake 3

Well holy crap, Quake 3 is officially 20 years old today.

And… it’s still the best DM shooter out there! But it was a long time to fall in love for us, like that funny looking girl on the bus that is into motorhead and jigsaw puzzles. While I had a kick ass time making levels for the game (I think I made a whopping 3 until my HD died and I couldn’t get my source files back and sorta gave up level making) other than to practice for LAN’s I didn’t play a ton the first 6 months or so it was out. I think it hit me when I was stuck in the house for a weekend with shitload of snow (big ass blizzards in ’99 I tell you what) and played vs the bots to 999 frags on a single map. That’s right, 999 frags. No one was around and when I told people they didn’t believe me. After this, I loved the game forever.

Oh how opinions change. Here is Keneda and I’s un-edited reviews of the game from the year 1999. At the bottom is the animated John Romero Gif from that day and age (sorry dude….we were kids).

Quake 3: Arena

(my new girlfriend)

littlemute

Predication is necessary as it is essential to provide my biases walking into this review.  I love Quake. Not Quake 2, Not Unreal, not Doom, but Quake.  I love the speed, I love the level design, I love the totally unbalanced weapon selection, I love the gibbes, I love rocket jumping over a shower of gibbes.  What this means is that any later incarnation of this game will be brutally scrutinized, as Quake 2 was. Quake was made by a bunch of people that had already tasted massive financial success with Doom and slacked in production.  The design of the game drastically changed in mid-development and by all rights it should have been shit.  The reason it wasn’t is that the game designers means of development was to play deathmatch, constantly.  I assume from rumors that they “playtested” the game instead of working for months and months. Look what happened: Dm2, Dm4, E1M2. It’s hard to compare the experience of running “The Bad Place” with 4-6 other people to any other game. Nothing comes close. So there I am, standing in the middle of Dm4 writing this review.

There are a lot of shitty things in Quake 3a:

  • Most of the levels are either built with only beginners in mind or are “trick” levels with a lot of jumps and silly lifts.
  • Prediction.
  • Some of the models are disappointing, and the bot’s “ai” feels like an slightly humanized omicron bot; no suprises there.
  • The weapon selection is also questionable. The Grenade launcher is disappointing for Quake players used to the creamy goodness of the OG GL. The plasma gun is the worst “no skill” weapon I’ve ever seen. It’s weapon effect slows everything down as well as crowding the screen so you can’t see what the hell is going on while firing it.
  • Some of the design choices are extremely questionable. Fat people running around? Vertically challenged levels? An Eyeball with legs? The bot chat feature is absolutely lame. The taunts, already meaningless coming from a machine, are so inane as to turn the stomach. The final boss is the best example of this. For example: Major says “just get my tombstone right” or something to that effect. Now since she’s been killed, this is ok, but instantly she respawns to be killed again. It’s just not internally consistant! If they are fragged but not killed as evident by their respawn, why then talk about themselves being dead?
  • The processor and video card requirements are astronomical. The box should read: “System Requirements: Computer not yet built to run this game, please wait until March of 2000.”

I completed (and I mean completed; ie never to play again) the single player in three hours. It felt like a chore. The bots, with their complete reliance on superior aim gave little satisfaction in tactical play.  You can ALWAYS get the armor or RL when you need it.  The bots ALWAYS run around, never camping anywhere.  There really isn’t anything “new” about Q3a except the engine and art. The game-play is the same, the weapons are the same and the style of game is the same.

With all these problems it seems impossible that Q3a is worth buying. But jesus H christ it is! What id has done with the single player is fine, but makes no difference. Some of the models suck, but it makes no difference. Most of the levels are aesthetics over game-play, but it makes no difference. No one I know has a system that can run it well, but it makes no difference. In four months time there will hundreds of new models, thousands of new levels and a dozen or so mods that ameliorate almost ALL problems. The Voodoo 5 should be out and people will have systems that will be able to run the game. And, of course, someone will remake Quake DM4.

Playing through the single player, I constantly said: “I hate this,” but then during tier five, I started having a bit of fun. Tier five is a stint with some rather good levels in it, like Brimstone Alley, and it contains some of the better models. A few of the levels in that tier are super tight, rather than the typical Q3a flat open area with some curves spread around, so I was in my element: fucking bot ass. It was during this tier that I was able to get the “haste” power up and I realized that there was a ray of hope in terms of runspeed slowness.  If server admins can set run speed…. Excellent!

After I finished off Xeroe (hi, yes bot you can aim better than I can but you jump to the same places every time) I started up a skirmish with nine or so bots on Brimstone Alley with a frag limit of 100 and went to town. Within 10 minutes I realized I liked Q3a, within 20 I loved it. It’s hard to describe the moment where I shifted from hating to loving Q3a, but it happened and here I am writing this review.

Basically the Q3a you get in the box is good, but it’s what you will be able to get off the net in four months that will make this game fantastic. Better CTF with the hook, better levels, more models and more fun and silly mods. With time and better processors we will be able to actually play without a ton of slowdown when someone is gibbed or uses the plasma gun. There is a lot more to be explored in Q3 so I’m going to cut this off for now. It’s not my beloved friend Quake, no, and only time will tell if it’s a worthy successor.  It IS certainly beautiful graphically.

Binary score: 1

[Ed: a Binary score of 1 was the highest possible award for a game. Either worth playing or not worth playing– no in between]

Keneda

» Wow, ID lost its soul, quake3a is proof.
» Anyone have a voodoo4 or voodoo5? You’ll need one to play Quake3a lag free on ANY system. Some people say a TNT2 or GeForce256 can provide a lag free experience, BUT why buy that shitburger when you can get a $600 voodoo5 6000 this spring/summer. Back to Q3A, it’s a beast of a engine, lagg’en the fuck out of my voodoo3 2000 on a p3 549 with 128megs of pc100 memory. Damn… I hate lag. I hate Q3A cuz it lags. Understand?
» The graphics are beautiful. MUCH better then the crap seen in Unreal Tournament. The Lighting, Textures and Weapon effects are bar-none perfect.
» Level design. None. Wastes of curved surfaces abound. My god there’s TONS of useless detail… time could have been spent forging through Fileplanet for examples of GREAT levels. Christ the could have remade all the Quake DM levels. Of the 20+ levels I can say I enjoy 3 or so.
» Sound. Fine. Nothing to great… the music is barely present in the game. Who the fuck listens to the in game music when they are playing DM or CTF? Only net nebbishes. So I guess who cares about music in FPS’ers. Not me, I just pop some Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, or John Zorn in and I’m ready to go.
» Gameplay is fine. Two people meet, one person dies. There’s not too much “getting away” like in Quake. Movement is faster than Quake2 but not nearly as fast as Quake. This makes for duels in which one person usually frags the other. The levels aren’t helping the gameplay at this point. In two months we should see remakes of all the gould DM levels for Quake/Quake2 so gameplay will see a improvement. I have not tried the CTF yet… more people in the clan have to buy the game first… and is it worth it?
» Q3A models are fine to TERRIBLE… and the animations are still VERY limited. I’m not saying that Q3A models are any worse than Quake’s BUT, they’re not any better…. more of the same, with little, barely noticeable, death animation tweaks. Of course they have a higher polygon count, but more doesn’t mean better… it just means more lag, and for what ends do we have to suffer to see a more detailed enemy get fragged?
» Gibbs are real nice in Q3A. They make lag for a voodoo3 like playing over a 2800 baud modem. CHRIST!!!
» Binary score: 0 until I have a voodoo5, at which time I will review the game a second time.

Links

Q3A = Lag

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