Review at A Glance
Grand-daddy of full 3D First Person Shooters
Gripping, visceral, atmospheric soundtrack
Inventive, diverse level and enemy design (Lovecraftian)
Addictive multiplayer gameplay, with myriad iterations/mods; alive to this day
Unparalleled, dark, medieval, ghoulish atmosphere
So many Source Ports and MODS, which ones to choose?!!?
Essential gaming for fans of First Person Shooters; cemented the id Software legend. Most popular game engine of its time. If you don't have this already, what are you waiting for?! For current generation play, I recommend one of the common source ports, such as Ultimate Quake (DarkPlaces+).
In-depth review, not for the faint of heart: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here":
1996. DooM had introduced "Deathmatch" to the popular lexicon three years earlier. id Software managed to capitalize on the addictive nature of online multiplay, while advancing the technical limits of FPS gaming. What followed was the most popular game engine of its time, and it revolutionized online multiplay. Engine novelties included polygonal models, fully 3D environments, easy tools for Game Modding and hardware 3D acceleration. Quake may single handedly be the game that made a cutting-edge graphics card an essential component for the modern PC gamer. Unique gameplay features included bunny hopping and rocket-jumping. Game emphasis was on the online, multiplayer experience, utilizing a client-server model rather than peer to peer, the preeminent model of the time. This model allowed players to create and mantain a session, while additional players would be able to join or leave at any time, without disrupting the game.
BAHAHAHAHAHAH!! Story?! Pffffftt. Don't let it get in the way of an epic, legendary, awesome FPS game. Beat the 4 episodes and collect the rune at the end, solve environmental puzzles, kill everything with a pulse...or rather, that moves! 'Nuff Said. There is something resembling a story that a was thrown in to provide the semblance of a gaming thread.
Fast paced, bunny hopping, rocket jumpin' non-stop, edge of your seat, deathmatchin' action. Gameplay intuitive enough to allow a beginner to jump in and start fraggin', yet, complex enough to allow a bustlin' pro scene to develop, and spawn a successful franchise. Responsive controls allow you to float through inspired levels and maneuver your character, even when airborne! Weapon selection established the standard with a good variety of now conventional, classic weapons; including the revered Shotgun, the seminal Rocket Launcher and the mighty Lighting Gun. Weapon balance and choice, depending on level design and range of combat, had never been this intricate.
Iconic palette hard on black/browns with excellent use of lighting and shadows for emphasis and scares. Weapon design is a bit blocky, by today's standards, but sits nicely with the dark, medieval theme. Enemy/monster designs are inventive, with great variety, and a multitude of baddies that attack from above, at ground level and in the water. At the time, probably the only other big title that offered hazards with such a degree of freedom of movement was "Descent." Enemies appear as something out of a medieval demonic nightmare with a hodgepodge of humanoid, hellish Lovecraftian creatures coming at you and wielding a good array of weapons and attacks. The color palette and enemy design allows for baddies to pop out of dark corners and portions of the level, setting up multiple scares, providing a racemic mixture of action and horror that is hard to match.
The level design, with its gothic architecture and variety of environmental puzzles and hazards, resulted in classic levels that would eventually be ported to multiple other engines and games.
Immaculate, crisp environmental, creature, character and weapon sound effects that were mostly concocted/mixed in-house by the talented id crew utilizing innovative techniques and processing. Trent Reznor/NIN soundtrack provides a chilling backdrop with industrial, ambiental brilliance that peppers the game with a pumping, blood curling soundtrack, which seamlessly potentiates the dark visuals and sound effects.
The online multiplayer experience is at the core of Quake. It would offer more options than any other FPS at the time and, out of the box, would allow for Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Cooperative Play. It would also allow for Time and/or Frag limits. After some time, popular free modifications included Team Fortress and Capture the Flag modes. The transition to a Client:Server model would permit a server to run continuously and for players to drop in and pop out of the game, without interrupting it. This dramatically improved the chances of finding a working game. Moreover, whereas most multiplayer experiences at the time emphasized 1:1 or games of up to 8 players, Quake allowed up to 16 simultaneous players in its original iteration; resulting in unprecedented chaos and murderous destruction.
Quake is a legendary, classic game from FPS greats, id Software (id Tech 2). The Quake engine fueled the upcoming games for a generation and set the blueprint for FPS and online gaming. Dark atmosphere with ghoulish, sadistic enemy design set in a medieval, gothic world full of environmental dangers and light puzzles. Online experience is the core of the game, and would shape the FPS landscape for the foreseeable future. If you enjoy FPS, horror, inventive level design, Lovecraftian creatures, NIN/Trent Reznor or are just interested in gaming history, you cannot go wrong with this game.