Quake III: Team Arena

10_1Hardcore Quake-aholics will dig it.

Quake 3 Arena did excellent deathmatch in its day, but as far as the online crowd is concerned, team-based action is where it’s at. There was a superfulous CTF mode bundled into the original package, but it was clearly an afterthought. Then id tried to remedy this issue with Team Arena, an add-on disk that needs the original Quake 3 to be installed. It might not be up to the quality of Unreal Tournament, but it definitely has its own brand of twitch action.

Team Arena’s big addition to the Quake universe is a variety of different character classes, which are assigned by grabbing flashing color-coded pick-ups that give new abilities. For example, a Guard benefits from increased health and armor, Scouts boogie along and fire at an increased rate, and Doublers do two times the damage.

There are also new special items, similar to “runes” in Classic Quake CTF mods. The Invulnerability Sphere deflects all incoming attacks but renders you stationary, and the Kamikaze sends a shockwave ripping through the arena at the cost of your own life. You’ll also find shiny new weapons to tear apart your opponents – prox grenades, nail guns, and the Doom chaingun are back in full effect. While the end result isn’t an entirely new game, these goodies add an extra layer of complexity to the proven gameplay of Quake 3.

9_1Quake 3 Team Arena sports four teamplay modes, two of which are standard Capture the Flag games (you know, the same CTF that was included with the original Quake 3 Arena). One of the new modes is Harvester, wherein you grab the skulls of your fallen enemies and return them to your base for big points. It’s the sort of deviant and humorous gameplay you’d expect from id. The other is a straightforward game called Overload, where you shoot at a floating skull located in the enemy base.

As with Quake 3, it’s all playable online (with people) and offline (with bots). The AI bots put up a good fight, and seem to follow orders fairly well, managed by a redesigned interface that pays homage to Unreal Tournament. Giving orders and mucking with game settings is as easy as picking and clicking on pull-down menus, making gauche console commands a thing of the past. Bots are also more communicative and are always telling you whether they’re attacking or defending.

Similarly impressive Team Arena is the collection of levels, which includes fresh teamplay, CTF, and standard deathmatch tournament arenas (20 new maps in all). However, the real stars of the show are the outdoor maps, which feature sprawling environments that are bigger than any Quake levels you’ve ever seen. What’s especially impressive is how these maps are optimized for speed. They’ll satisfy anyone who likes the wide-open arenas of Tribes and the grimy, claustrophobic interiors of Quake.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 820 MB HDD, Win98

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