Quake II: The Reckoning

I reckon we’ve seen this before…

Quake 2: The Reckoning is a genuinely pleasant way to spin away a few hours with it’s corridor-based first-person action, but don’t expect that same reckless passion you used to feel during your youth. The mission from Xatrix – invade the Strogg homeworld, then carry the battle to a Strogg moon base – has its moments and its gratuitous massacres, but it also suffers from a sense of sameness that borders dangerously close to blandness at times.


Open levels like this take too long to reach.

Endless hallways, elevators, computer terminals, switches, locked doors, cards, keys, keycards and stacked crates are drearily familiar to even a casual acquaintance of the genre. More interesting are the very first outdoor levels, but then it’s off to a very claustrophobic sewer, then to a gigantic Strogg industrial facility and spaceport, then eventually you blast off into space and deal death on the alien moon. The difficulty level has been beefed up, making the highest mode more challenging than it was in the original game. But if it ever gets tiresome, screw the Strogg and skip right to the excellent new deathmatch levels.

In typical add-on fashion, The Reckoning unveils a few new weapons. These include the twin-barreled Phalanx, which works as a pump-action rocket launcher, the ricocheting Ion Ripper, and a puckish Trap that converts monsters into health. Also included are a couple of new creatures (the Strogg-reviving Repair Bots and the Gekk, a “bio-luminescent” species of gibbon-esque pack feeders who soak up a bit of damage before bursting apart in a riot of acidic, incandescent polygons, and several spins on the expendable Light Guard, which are just as easy to kill but are packing deadlier weapons).

But The Reckoning, despite a few nice touches, is somewhat limited by the corridor-shooter mentality; the seven deathmatch maps, with their wide open spaces and cunning design, are more creatively and appealingly conceived than the eighteen levels in the mission proper, but work only with a large number of players. The game also places too much reliance on water as an endlessly fascinating medium for exploration; slogging eternally through sewer-pipes and aqueducts doesn’t contribute much to keeping the pace up. Sweeping multiplayer options (32-player deathmatches, with up to four-person cooperation) and a climactic trip to the Strogg’s secret moon base work in The Reckoning’s favor, but ultimately this add-on has got too many halls and not enough mauls.

System Requirements: Pentium 90Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95/98/NT

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