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For the Love Of: ‘Quake’ (VIDEO)

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chris-littlechild - August 22, 2016

 

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  You know what pisses me off? Just about everything, really. I’m an easily-pissed-off sort of guy. A particular pain in my ass at the moment, though, would be all these ‘do you feel old’ posts. You know the sort of thing, Facebook telling you how old Ross and Rachel’s daughter would be today, all that sort of deal. Yesterday, I saw one that said ‘That face when you realize that 2006 was a decade ago.’ 

Of course it freaking was. This isn’t Kindergarten Math Problems: Dumbasses Edition. I know what you’re getting at, Internet, but just stop with this BS already.

 All of that said, though, there is one thing about 2016 that does make me feel like a saggy, droopy old senior citizen: the amount of video game series hitting 20th (and 21st and 25th) anniversaries this year. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve taken an ogle at some of them, from Resident Evil to Sonic the Hedgehog, and today it’s time for another favorite. I’m sure a lot of you Ego-gents have fond memories of the early Quake days. If so, swivel your eyestalks down the page. This one’s for you.

First up, there was a lil’ thing called Doom. You’ve probably heard of it. The demonic space-mariney shooter hit in 1993, a phenomenon that introduced the world to the FPS as we know it. In the following years, natch, we were up to our scrotes in pretenders, Doom clones as they were called, none of which held a candle to the original.

What did Id Software, the Doom devs, hit us with next? Freaking Quake, that’s what. A similar shooty affair, Quake wasn’t playing any games. It arrived with all manner of weapons of destruction in tow. And a badass soundtrack courtesy of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. These guys meant business, right here.

 This one had a little more to its story than Doom did. A little more batshit, that is. In Quake, we take the role of a warrior called the Ranger. This unfortunate dude is the last surviving member of a team sent to destroy a mysterious dimension-hopping, teleporting entity dubbed ‘Quake.’ Quake is sending squads of killer demon-things at us to test the combat skills of humanity, which is, y’know, a pretty uncool thing to be doing. The Satanic spirit of Doom lives on, there are skeletons and pentagrams amundo, but what’s going on is just a little deeper.

The same’s true of the multiplayer. After Doom gave the world such a boner for deathmatches, it was clear that this was the way forward for shooters. Quake expanded on the options available to players wanting to murderise each other, and we loved it for that. This was a revolution, right here, with its rocket jumping, super-floaty characters adding a new dimension to competitive play. It was brutal, gory and foul-your-undercrackers fast paced, and cemented the arena shooter’s place in our hearts.

As the series went on, it went further and further down this road. The third release, 1999’s Quake III Arena, gave single-player the middle finger entirely, focusing on making its competitive modes the best they could be. Hardcore Quake followers and shooter fans alike still have a lot of love for this one, and the rocket-jumping advanced play it introduced. Almost twenty years later, it's still a gold standard for shooters to live up to.

 But what of the series since? Unlike some others, Quake hasn’t been relentlessly and repeatedly pimped out over the years. After Arena, the Quake-o-matic machine stopped pumping out annual installments. We didn’t see Quake 4 until six years later, and it was just a spangly new single player campaign tacked onto multi modes that were ripped straight from the last game. That doesn’t cut it around here, buddy boy.

Thing is, though, you’ve got to get with the times a little. By 2006, video games were getting into that whole campaign-mode-with-production-values-as-high-as-the-Chrysler-Building, voiced-by-Tinsel-Town-Celebtastic thing that’s all over the place these days. You’ve got to make concessions to that, but you shouldn’t lose what makes the franchise great in doing so. Have something for lone players, but don’t make the campaign the star of the show (unless you’re the Doom reboot, which seemed to get away with doing exactly that).

So, onto the real meat of the thing. Where next for Quake? Back in June, a lil’ thing called Quake Champions was announced. It was, natch, great to see the iconic series back after another long hiatus, but not for all long-term fans. If there’s one thing that’s sure to send long-term fans into a rabid, mouth-foaming, homicidal rage, it’s change. What Champions is doing is bringing the franchise more in line with the Overwatch-flavored ‘hero shooter.’ Y’know, characters each with their own individual powers and playstyles and such.

The reaction to this bold new direction can best be described as ‘mixed.’ Some of us are cool with it. Others want to break into Id Software’s HQ late at night and take a shit on the desks. Me? I’m just glad to see Quake back. It’s been a long time, and just the mention of the name gives me a warm, fuzzy tingle in my nostalgia-glands.

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