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The peak of an era: Quake II Review

Quake+II%2C+originally+developed+by+id+Software%2C+is+currently+distributed+by+Bethesda+on+PC%3A+Steam%2C+Epic+Games+Store%2C+GOG%2C+Microsoft+Windows+Store+and+on+Console%3A+Xbox+One%2C+Xbox+Series+X%7CS%2C+PlayStation+4%2C+PlayStation+5%2C+and+Nintendo+Switch.
Bethesda
Quake II, originally developed by id Software, is currently distributed by Bethesda on PC: Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, Microsoft Windows Store and on Console: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch.

Unholy matrimony of flesh and machine: bizarre and hostile alien creatures known as the Strogg threaten the human race. You are a marine of an Earth united against this threat. Your mission is to explore this strange new world, to seek out new life and turn it into biomechanical soup. Your ship is fast arriving to your destination of carnage, you step into a drop-pod to be shot at the planet’s surface like a missile, but then some low-IQ specimen of a man smashes into your pod during descent! You veer off course and lose control of your engines, you can only hope that you don’t turn into a red smear when you land. Your radio is suddenly buzzing with voices, all of the pods are going directly into a trap set by the Strogg! All of them… except yours. That little knock is going to deliver you to safety- well, more safety than your comrades at least. You’re doing this alone now. Your new mission: singlehandedly perform the work of your entire platoon. Fight your way to the leader of the Strogg through their capital city, destroying critical infrastructure and laying waste to hundreds of enemy soldiers with a massive arsenal, and save humanity!

Quake II definitely was a game of its era, but it’s not stuck in the past.

Quake II was released in 1997 by Id Software, a group of gaming pioneers, visionaries, and software nerd rock stars known for constantly pushing the gaming industry forward through their first-person shooter games. They made Doom. If that doesn’t tell you that these guys are borderline divine, I don’t know what does. Quake II is the result of five years of constant evolution and expansion upon their debut title, Wolfenstein 3D, and between the games of ‘92 and ‘97 the difference is astronomical. Quake II is such a good game that even today making a game remotely comparable would be a minor miracle in and of itself. The best part is, that Bethesda, the current owner of Id Software, put out a free remaster by Nightdive Studios on August 10 for everyone who owns, or will own, as I hope you will soon, Quake II on Steam.

Years ago, I bought Quake and Quake II on steam. The first was an absolute blast. Personally, I think it’s even better than Doom, but I never got around to playing the second one due to being butthurt about how pointlessly brutal the expansion pack was, at least on Hard mode. What a fool I was. Quake II is a continuous stream of constant cathartic carnage, especially with the remaster taking the already extremely polished and refined mechanics, cinematics, and graphics and injecting them into a modern engine.

Being an Id game, you’re guaranteed good guns. Great guns. Nearly perfect guns, to be precise. Id Software never screws up their arsenal, and Quake II features an incredible loadout with guns just dripping with power and heft. In addition to the standard pistol, shotgun, super shotgun, SMG, and chaingun, that one can expect from nearly any boomer shooter, Quake II contains several unique and interesting firearms that I can’t stand to spoil for anyone who shall play the game, but suffice it to say they even made the BFG (Big Freakin’ Gun) better than its Doom debut, which anyone who’s played the classic Doom games before knows, is virtually impossible.

Quake II is a classic, aged like a fine wine, polished so thoroughly with its new remaster that you can see your own pores in your reflection. It should be considered required reading for anyone who calls themselves a fan of first-person shooters, or video games in general.

Quake II constantly surprised me with its innovation and smoothness, something that would only be surprising to the kind of nerd who writes an editorial about a PC game from 1997. The 1998 game Half-Life is credited for being the first game to be truly seamless. There are loading zones and chapters, but there are no defined levels. You smoothly move from the start to the finish without interruption. Imagine my surprise when Quake II, a predecessor to Half-Life, appeared to have that same design a year earlier. It was at the first level transition that I knew that Quake II was something special. Granted, Quake II still has a level system, but it’s far more advanced than what you may see in Doom or other “boomer shooters,” (first-person shooter games reminiscent of or from the 1990’s such as Ultrakill, Dusk, and Duke Nukem 3D) with each level being its own objective, a sub-mission, a whole battle in your one-man war against the Strogg. You might have to travel back and forth over multiple maps to complete the objective at hand, something that I had never thought a game like Quake II would do. The first Quake game was notable for its incredible verticality, being one of the first fully and truly 3D shooter games, and Quake II takes this to a whole other level, not only retaining much of the verticality and layering that made Quake special, but introducing a more complex, almost non-linear path to take throughout the game. It’s as if the game was fourth-dimensional compared to its 3D ancestors. The new compass system in the remaster is a godsend for those few times one may get stuck. That’s just one of the interesting features of Quake II, there’s far more for you to discover as you play it, which you will.

Quake II is a classic, aged like a fine wine, polished so thoroughly with its new remaster that you can see your own pores in your reflection. It should be considered required reading for anyone who calls themselves a fan of first-person shooters, or video games in general. Quake II was one of the last games of a recently revitalized era of boomer shooters: level-based, fast-paced action that just a year later would be replaced by more seamless experiences thanks to Half-Life (which in and of itself is still considered a boomer shooter). Even over 25 years after its release, it’s no surprise Quake II is still regarded as one of the best shooters in the history of shooters, if not ever.






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Clark Chamberlin, Opinions Editor
Former human.

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