Quake Mission Pack: Abyss of Pandemonium
This mission pack narrowly avoids the action gaming abyss.
While Pandemonium indirectly touts itself as a canonical mission pack, a quick peek at the credits will reveal that id Software had no involvement in the project. Regardless, it attempts to wrap up the original Quake with a packet of eleven more sparsely connected levels, featuring a few freshly baked enemies and weapons as well. As with other mission packs, the action is very linear, and, with only eleven maps and no new deathmatch levels, considerably shorter as well. It’s ultimately up to you Quake fans to decide on whether this rare map bundle is of any value to you.
The game frequently alternates between great and merely okay map design, though the majority of its levels are impressive and quite fun to blast through. Some areas are brimming with creative detail while others are just barren corridors. Some are linear to the extreme and easy to figure out, others twist and turn in every direction. We get the regular mix of run-of-the-mill military bases, ancient temples and runic dungeons, all interspersed with some new textures here and there. Secrets are devilishly hard to find (as they should be) and the difficulty settings change the number of enemies and items you’ll encounter quite effectively. But again, this pack is heavily compacted, and the final boss fight just sort of happens out of the blue, and the game ends. A wall of text congratulates you…
There are several new enemies here, some better than others. The most impressive foe is the Juggernaut, a lumbering robot that looks and fights like a prototypical Tank from Quake II (which, considering we’re in 1998, probably did serve as a template). Here too they are more of an endurance test than anything else, except Pandemonium goes a little overboard with their hitpoints. A few other nasties include the Dark Knight, an offshoot of the regular knight, and the Gremling, which sort of looks like a winged creature turned inside out. The endgame foe turns out to be an utter letdown, and is nowhere near as memorable as the dragon from Dissolution or Armagon from Armagon.
There are three new weapons (actually four, but the final one lacks a 3D model as it’s supposedly mounted to your armor). Out of these guns you’ll likely best enjoy the Napalm Launcher. Not that it’s extremely fun, but it does launch phosphorous grenades that burst enemies into flames before gibbing them, although otherwise the gun works and looks just like a regular grenade launcher. Neither of these weapons nor monsters look or sound memorable, and it’s only thanks to Pandemonium’s sparse but overall effective level design that it manages to just barely tip-toe along the action gaming abyss.
System Requirements: Intel 80486 DX2 66 Mhz CPU, 8 MB RAM, MS-DOS 5.0 / Win95
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