Original Quake Review

The one word I would use to sum up Quake is ‘fragtacular’, as repetitive as it may have been, there is no disputing the fact it was an exciting lesson in mass decimation and relentless carnage.

While the graphics may have aged in the eleven or so years, it can still be viewed as a game that infused some humour into a fairly morbid, if not indecisive, storyline. Based in the ‘realm’ of Quake your task is to wipe out Shub-Niggurath, the mother of all evil-doers in this plane of vehement sodom. Before you can do this however you must travel across four ‘chapters’ in a bid to sort out the abundance of wretches that stand between you and a most gibtastic triumph over evil.

To help in this quest, you are granted free reign to a number of devastating, albeit ridiculous weapons. The single barrel shotgun deals enough damage to reduce a fierce mercenary to a whimpering pile of soggy undergarments, the nail-gun is suitable for pulping an Ogre into a questionable sports-drink and the rocket launcher is somewhat special in that it has the ability to spread chunks of meat in more directions than a butcher’s van careening into an oil-tanker.

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There are also basic upgrades of weapons, for example the double barrelled shotgun and a quad-barrel nail-gun, there’s also the grenade launcher and the Thunderbolt, which fires a stream of electricity at the enemy; overly powerful and fantastic for wall to wall clearance of hellish foes. People say games are no good for you - the one thing I learned from Quake was that you don’t take electricity into the water, no sir.

Back in 1997 or so, just after the game was initially released my Mum was doing a spot of child-minding, and a bright young fellow of four years old questioned

“What are you doing?” to which I replied

“I’m dealing with the bad men.”

My Mum was horrified by this statement and I think it was at this point I began to realise that maybe my hobby, and outlook on life - was a little different from most. But in all fairness; those fiends were spawn of Shub-Niggurath and had no right to threaten Earth, I was doing the world a favour!

While I may be overly romanticising my memories of Quake I do think it was something special; the graphics, while bland by current standards were very immersive for the time and my cousins and I, with whom I spent hours enjoying Quake alongside numerous other games, found ourselves discussing how it would be great if we could expand on the game by adding more levels and enemies. Something we had never considered before.

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Still though, having purchased it again on Steam and after completing it on hard mode, I’m actually considering the challenge of playing it blindfolded just to see how I fare, now it sounds mad - but to me Quake is a game of ultimate challenge. Of course it’s easy to complete - the AI isn’t impressive, a simple strafing motion is your one-stop defence manoeuvre and the bigger the gun the quicker you kill.

Nowadays when I see simple messages in Counter-Strike: Source such as “Player 1” killing “Player 2” and an image of the weapon used I often wonder, what about the ‘id Software’ way of doing things?

Whatever happened to lines like “Rustvaar visits the Volcano God”, “Rustvaar was smashed by a Shambler”, “Rustvaar sleeps with the fishes” and my own personal favourite “Rustvaar was turned into hot slag”? There was always a slight chuckle to be had when you died in Quake, simply because you got treated to some sort of laughable gaming obituary.

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There’s a lot of fun to be had in Quake, regardless of its age - It’s one of the few games that are incredibly simple and still very more-ish, maybe it’s the run-and-gun nature or the joy I get from seeing my foes gibbed across a hallway, but something has been done just right and it was a delightful step forward for the first person shooter genre and proof that you don’t need a good story to make a good game.

I find it to be a lovable piece of gaming history and something I will always remember fondly; forget reloading and ducking for cover, I’ll settle for Quad-Damage and two-hundred nails any day.

- By Rustvaar