Let's rewind the clocks back to the 90s. Nirvana was still the talk of the town, our computers buzzed with the sound of dial-up connections to log onto the incredible world wide web, and kids were digging through their chips for Pokemon tazos before disposing of the chips. Around this time, the first-person shooter genre in gaming was dominated by arena shooters; pioneers of the time that would pave the way for all we know today. Chief among these pioneers was a little shooter called Quake. Thanks to its recent shadow drop, we've come to relive the 90s and realize, well, Quake still rocks.
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This re-release of Quake is more than the sum of its parts. While it packs all the bells and whistles of your average remaster - enhanced visuals, textures, controls, and more - it offers two shiny new expansions from MachineGames with a lot of reworking done by id Software. It may not be an entirely new Quake experience, but it's a familiar one that hits all those nostalgic notes effortlessly.
I won't go into too much detail about its upgraded features, but for better or worse, it still plays and feels like Quake all these years later. Before the days of aiming down sights, Quake - much like its father, Doom - prioritized fast-paced and chaotic (but controlled) gameplay that made you feel like a god with a nail gun. You rarely have time to breathe as you dash from one room full of enemies to the next, searching for those elusive key cards to open doors. It seems a tad bit dated now, but that forms the overall charm and appeal of this relic of a shooter.
You stumble upon some puzzles dotted around the levels that only require platforming or a well-timed shot to solve, but it never brings the gameplay to a crawl. You're still a little bolt of lightning and vengeance as you blow off limbs with triple-barrel guns and rocket launchers, keeping the momentum moving along at an aggressively breakneck pace. The enemy variety may have been expanded in later entries, but there's enough here in the first Quake to keep you constantly switching strategies. Some airborne enemies require a bit more aim, while other tank-types need a few rockets to the face to kill. It's all standard fare for switching out weapons on the fly to deal with certain situations, but it's nice to see the roots of these gameplay elements present in Quake.
On that note, the weapon wheel - which is similar to Doom - feels a bit clunky in Quake. A little more could've been done to make it feel as smooth as DOOM (2016) when transitioning between weapons on the go. Since this is a re-release that has had some work and refinements done to it, the sluggish weapon wheel could've also benefitted from a few tweaks. That said, the weapon variety is decent and although some guns may feel similar to others, they all pack a satisfying punch - even if it does feel a bit floaty at times.
Before even the likes of Painkiller and Unreal Tournament, Quake nailed (no pun intended) its aggressive gameplay. Unlike new shooters on the market that prioritize strategy and well-timed shots, Quake comes from an era in gaming where the name of the game was all-out guns blazing. Sure, the speed and flow of gameplay is not everyone's cup of tea and can be ruthless on higher difficulties, but Quake's addictive loop screams "just one more level". I have to admit, I was never really sure how to finely control the chaotic pace of the action - and you can play it at any pace you want, really - but there's something incredibly satisfying about blowing open a door, giving the middle finger to enemies and unleashing a hell-storm of bullets everywhere.
You can play through the campaign by yourself or with a few friends (allowing for up to four-player co-op), while including some classic deathmatch multiplayer fun. I played through a chunk of the campaign (and its four expansions) with a friend, which really added to the experience while also making it less daunting. In short, Quake can still be a brutally challenging affair if you're tackling it solo, but with a friend, that extra bit of firepower goes a long way.
MachineGames' new expansions are the main attractions, and they're awesome. In what is an already content-filled shooter from the 90s, MachineGames' expansions have added two sizeable additions to the campaign that honor the name of Quake. They're well-crafted pieces of old-school level design that offer new puzzles, locations, and shiny toys to try out. It's so well-integrated into the main campaign that you'd be forgiven if you thought it was actually developed in the 90s too. If anything, this proves that the developers are more than capable of handling a new Quake game since they evidently understand its essence and core concepts rather well.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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