Quake sprouts two horns and heralds a new era in 3D gaming.

Jump back in time a couple of decades and you’ll find what might be the greatest action game of all time. Quake is an all-out first-person splatterfest where you explore dark worlds, find keys, open doors and kill everything that moves. Gameplay is heavily influenced by Doom, id Software’s defining title, with a few major distinctions. The most obvious is the full 3D engine allowing for poly-based levels, enemies and weapons to grace our monitors like never before, officially advancing the first-person shooter into a new age of gaming.

Breaking New Grounds


Seen in OpenGL, a Shambler prepares to attack.

Experiencing a true 3D shooter for the first time is unlike anything you’ve experienced before in a computer game, and it’s this visceral appeal that made Quake the best action release of 1996. The engine has levels stretch across all three spatial planes, and contains poly-based monsters, items and weapons. Where before enemies were confined to 2D cutaways-status, Quake introduced fierce beasts that you could view from any angle, and who could attack you from both up high or down below. The initial buzz and expectations were so great that Quake raked up a whopping one million pre-orders.

Quake originally shipped under DOS and supported both software and hardware mode under Sierra’s Screamin’ 3D series of 3D accelerators, which relied on the Rendition V1000 chips specifically programmed for Quake. Purchasing Sierra’s 3D card cost a whopping 200$ while having 4MB of EDO DRAM, but they greatly improved the image quality and framerate of the game by taking the rendering workload off the processor. A Windows 95 port followed some time later. Seen here is GLQuake, an official source port from 1997. Should you have the original game, you can run it under any number of third-party source ports that can handle the game under Windows Vista / 7 / 8.

The Mystical Past Comes Alive

A fiend prepares to pounce on you. Behind his hideous figure stands the level exit door.

The game is divided up into four Episodes that you must complete in any order to unlock a final showdown with Shub-Niggurath, the game’s Cthulhu inspired mega-monster. The way you select each chapter and difficulty setting is quite clever. You start in an open room with three hallways, each one representing the difficulty you wish to play at, and each path assumes a more menacing look on higher difficulties. After choosing your preferred skill level, you are again left in a hub complex that lets you select one of four episodes to play. Initial levels are comprised of human installations, but these eventually give way to darker runic and satanic-themed worlds.

Quake’s monsters, fifteen types in total, are divided far and wide. Some are universal while others are restricted to the theme of the level. Dark Knights, Ogres and Fiends can mainly be found in the medieval or runic-themed levels in the game, while possessed humans guard a network of military installations. One of the more interesting enemies is the Fiend, a savage creature with huge claws that leaps in the air in an attempt to cut you in half, or the Zombie that hurls bits of its own putrid flesh at you.

But Quake’s most iconic monster is the Shambler, a huge yeti-like creature with blood-soaked limbs and a giant gaping mouth. Just picture this encounter – you jump into a pool of water only to find it isn’t actually water, but immediately find yourself falling into a dark pit, hearing your legs crack as you hit the stone pavement. Out of the darkness you see the angry frame of a Shambler going your way, eager to claw you a new one.

Kill Your Friends

The single-player campaign is good, but where Quake truly shines is multiplayer. It was designed from the ground up as a client to server environment, allowing people to jump into hosted games at their leisure without interfering with every other connected player. Doom, C&C and its like used a much less forgiving peer-to-peer interface. The advantages of having a central server to call the shots from are obvious, allowing more control over the game, smoother gameplay and the ability to bridge different networks together. Joining wanton fragfests online was remarkably easy given the game’s wild popularity, and a few running servers still exist today.

Notice the Quake symbol on this Ogre’s rags.

Although revolutionary from a technical standpoint, Quake doesn’t really push the envelope as far as gameplay, having the same action trappings set by Doom and Wolfenstein. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but at the same time it’s unavoidable to compare Quake to 1995’s action game of the year, Duke Nukem 3D, which significantly raised the bar for all of action gaming. Quake’s levels are atmospheric, dark and often quite masochistic, but you can’t do much in them besides kill things, open doors and discover the odd secret area. The level themes, either dank dungeons or high-tech military stations, are fairly conventional, and the weapons lack the creative touches seen in Duke 3D.

The controls are spot-on, though Quake’s mouselook feature feels incomplete. You can use the mouse to look sideways but never up and down, a problem that’s easily fixed by enabling ‘+mlook’ via the console menu. And with that I’ll just wrap up this review by saying that Quake is an excellent, groundbreaking game. It’s fast, grim, energetic and I’ve had good fun replaying it. Grab the game and its mission packs from here dk.toastednet.org

System Requirements: Intel 486 DX4 100 Mhz, 8 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0

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