Quake Mission Pack: Scourge of Armagon
Quake conversions and mission packs popped up like shrooms after a thunderstorm. These packs ranged from praiseworthy to pitiful, with several half-assed attempts at cashing in on the Quake label becoming painfully evident in the wake of the game’s fanfared summer release of ’96. Scourge of Armagon places itself on the higher end of the scale, enjoying id’s official seal of approval and recent inclusion in their Quake Collection package.
As an expansion pack, Armagon does just about everything right. It adds new levels, weapons, enemies and items to toy around with, including a host of new deathmatch maps along with a 15-episode singleplayer campaign. This expansion pack skips the original’s trademark slipgate approach for a more linear experience, with three episodes (The Fortress of the Dead, Dominion of Darkness, The Rift) that play out in perfect order. You start off inside a human base and gradually move on to runic and satanic-themed levels towards the end. As with the original, you learn the story through text crawls that appear at the end of each episode.
Level design is pretty solid. Some light scripting is used here and there, like outrunning a boulder inside a mine tunnel or activating a force-field bridge, while the remaining majority of the levels play out in traditional fashion. Some good effort was put into level design and they all surpass the original game in terms of quality and scale. Some devious traps were devised and ambush points are common, involving loads of monsters jammed into hard-to-retreat spots coming from all sides. The first portion of the game was manageable on medium but got noticeably more vicious later on. Most of the monsters from the original make a comeback along with three new additions: the Gremlins and Centroids. The first are lightweights used as grunts in the later medieval-themed chapters while the Centroid is a heavier scorpion-like robot that tots a pair of nailguns and is found very early in the game. We of course have Armagon himself, faced at the very end.
Three new weapons and powerups have been added, raising your arsenal to ten (eleven if you count the axe). The most effective of the lot against single targets is the Laser Cannon, while Mjolnir, a magical hammer, can be used to zap groups of enemies with one blow. The ‘Proximity Mine Launcher’, nothing more than a re-skinned Grenade Launcher, is useful for placing traps in deathmatch games. Out of the three power-ups, the ‘Horn of Conjuring’ is the most interesting. It spawns one or two monsters to fight by your side who follow you around indefinitely to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, they’re pretty bad at pathfinding through tight spaces and can’t seem to cross moving objects, like elevators or extended bridges. The ‘Empathy Shield’, yet another new power-up, is a clever device that returns part of the damage you receive back at your enemies.
And that’s about it. Armagon is twice as difficult as Quake and is about two times shorter. Remember that it’s not a standalone expansion, so you’ll need the original Quake installed to play.
System Requirements: Intel 486 DX4 100 Mhz, 8 MB RAM, MS-DOS 5.0