Activision – Quake III Arena review

Photo of Activision – Quake III Arena

Whoever would have thought that a rather crude, non-politically-correct 3D shooter where you ran around a castle exterminating Nazis would foster such a long and distinguished line of grandchildren. As the Bible would put it, Wolfenstein begat Doom, which begat Doom II, and that begat Quake, whom begat Quake II, which finally begat Quake III Arena. That’s a Hell of a lot of begatting, not to mention a Hell of a lot of lost hours, nay weeks, months of life for the poor souls who are addicted to these games.

For they are highly compelling, and indeed once you embark upon the very cleverly crafted learning curve of an id software game, there’s no turning back (cue sinister laughter). Quake III is no exception, and id software has focused on the most addicting element – the multiplayer, or deathmatch, which has unlimited replayability. There is a single player game here, but it is a deathmatch game against computer controlled bots.

These are very well scripted bots; they act in a very human-like manner, and are extremely accurate and challenging on the higher skill levels. Even better, they have their own traits – some might prefer the lightning gun, others the rocket launcher, some are sneaky, others tend to attack more head on. There’s a good variety.

The multiplayer options tend to centre around standard deathmatch – there are plenty of levels, very well designed for fast paced gameplay, although some are specialist one on one levels. Capture the Flag has also been covered, but Unreal Tournament does a far better job of it. Quake 3 really is the deathmatch purist’s game.

In terms of gameplay the engine and weapons are as best a compromise between Quake I and II as you can get – sadly this probably won’t please either camp’s more fanatical players. The weapon change has a slight delay but not too much, and weapons make concession to both games, with the lightning gun returning from Quake I and the railgun kept in from Quake II.

Primarily a Quake I player myself, I felt that the physics were still a little too ‘airy’, and the game somehow lacked some ‘solidity’ therein, but that’s just my subjective view. I did, however, still find it highly enjoyable despite this, and the action is definitely adrenaline pumping stuff. Visually, it’s very strong too, with splendidly textured environments (although most revolve around futuristic/medieval themes), and the animation on the character models is similarly quite impressive.

Company: Activision

It's visceral, fast-paced deathmatch action for the purists out there, although the simplicity of the pure deathmatch game makes it easy to get into for novices too. Playing it well is another matter of course! Unreal Tournament has far more options than Quake 3 Arena, but this is straight, superb looking deathmatch action. Hardened Quake I and II players will probably prefer their own game in the end though.