Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Completed: Quake II

A fist from the final cutscene

Quake II is a game with which I have an interesting relationship. I can remember starting it and finishing it multiple times since it was released. But I'm not sure that I ever actually reached the end of the game without cheating. I certainly know all of the secrets in the first couple of levels and how to kill the final boss, but I really didn't remember going through all of the steps the game takes to get there.

Quake II was part of my very first Steam purchase, the id Super pack, back in August 2007. I had intended at that time to finish all of the games in that pack before buying any more. Given the date of this post, that obviously didn't work out.

A tank in gameIt is pretty clear from the beginning of Quake II that id software were trying to introduce more story and story elements into their games. It actually has pre-rendered cutscenes, mission objectives that aren't reach the end of this level, some non-hostile NPCs and even an occasional voice over the radio.

The story isn't very complicated, you are part of a failed attack against Stroggos. Your pod malfunctioned which is the only thing that saved you from what pretty much wiped out or captured every other soldier in the attack. Your missions involve taking out key Strogg infrastructure and working your way deeper into their military-industrial complex so that you can take out their emperor and finish the war. A lot of the context and history justifying this is not stated in game but can be found in the manual, which I of course do not have.

A view througha window in game
The Quake II engine allowed them to relatively convincingly place me in a location. Warehouses, factories, prisons, palaces. They all actually look like they might actually conceivably be these places without requiring that they tell me what they are through other mechanisms. I don't recall this happening much in Quake and the first two Doom games. When you were told you were in a factory district you might then look at the level and think "Oh yeah, I can see that now" but it certainly wasn't something you could just intuit.

Patched version of Quake 2 in widescreen
This is a shot from the patched version of Quake II
Quake II feels old. There are obvious technical limitations such as the graphics, no widescreen and an odd issue with the music; all of these are fixable with sourceports since ID has open sourced the engine. I used KMQuake, so my screenshots are primarily from that. There is a patch that introduces widescreen support to the basic game, but it also removes the gun viewmodel which makes the game feel very strange to me.

The main reason it feels old is the mechanics, the player runs and guns at high speed, there are tons of enemies, you can carry as many guns as you can find and a large amount of ammo for each and there is no such thing as reloading or alternate fire. I really enjoy this style of game, which is now found in only a subset of FPSs, games like Serious Sam or Hard Reset. Modern FPSes tend to limit your carrying capacity, your speed and do terrible things like having enemies take cover and use basic tactics.

Just killed a bunch of guys, better check my messages.
You can see some modern elements creeping in or being trialed. The mission structure links maps together in sets allowing and requiring some backtracking and the player has an inventory. Rather than power ups being used immediately most make there way there, never to actually be used as the player saves them for a rainy day. I know I faced the final boss with an invulnerability and a couple of quad damages sitting unused there, even during that boss fight.

It was good to finally strike Quake II off the list.

Games list at time of post: 390 unfinished titles
Changes since previous post: Finished 1 title     


  1. Great game, I wouldn't mind giving it a shot either

  2. Beat the whole game with only a blaster.