Thursday, November 20, 2014


The best competitive FPS of all time!

If I could only summarize QUAKE III in one way, I'd say it's an id Software All-Star deathmatch crossover pitching against each other the characters and the universes of the Doom trilogy, Quake 1 and Quake 2 - only really missing a representative from Wolfenstein - which is a shame - and at least a cameo or references to the Commander Keen series... sigh.

Hell awaits your soul, will you dare face more id Software reviews through the following links?

VGR: Quake III Arena also known as just Quake 3 or Q3A, Quake Arena and Q3
From id Software/Raster Productions/Bullfrog Productions/Sega/Electronic Arts/Activision
Played on PC
Also available on Dreamcast, Mac, Amiga, PS2 and Xbox 360

Type Multiplayer FPS
Year 1999

Following the Lovecraftian original Quake and a more science-fiction-based Quake II against an alien invasion in the second game, id software took the (very uneven) Quake series into another completely different direction.

That's right, Quake 3 would be yet another completely different experience, neither a sequel to one or the other, but rather a completely drastically separate game.

Thus Quake III Arena surprised a lot of people in 1999. But in a good way.

Unlike the previous episode which tried to offer a couple of cutscenes/story tidbits to give a reason for the first person shooting, Quake 3 was very light in the story and acts more like an id software All-Star competitive game in which the protagonists and several creatures from the various previous games along several new faces created for the occasion battle for their supremacy. In which it's no surprise to see the Doomguy going against both Quake 1's protagonist and Quake's 2 Bitterman! Also from Doom are a female space marine, Crash, and some unseen protagonist that apparently went through the same Hellish invasion, Phobos. From Quake 1 we also get another soldier, Wrack. And from Quake II we get a couple of Stroggs and soldiers, Tank Jr., Grunt, Major, Visor. The rest is all new, based on the new lore of either Quake III or the past id games.

The game was developed back when the entire id team was still composed of some of the best talents in the industry (before most left to different ventures), including creative director Tim Willits, designer Graeme Devine, John Carmack on the programming, or even Adrian Carmack on the art direction.

The game was developed right alongside id Tech 3, aka the Quake III Arena engine, with its main goal to be the next evolution of the FPS genre as well as showcase what the id Tech 3 was really able to do. Much like the "passage" from Wolfenstein to Doom, this marked another impressive jump in technology and a radical departure from what was done in the past as far as graphics and coding go. Back then it was offered as the direct competitor with the Unreal Engine, both would end up being widely used for all sorts of games at the time. This successor to Quake 2's "id Tech 2" was largely rewritten anew. Mostly to have it work perfectly and effectively with OpenGL graphic accelerator cards at the time. The engine was able to play with curved surfaces, all sorts of new lighting and shaders on the surfaces, able to work with an impressive number of 3D models in real time, animation-heavy or not, able to display dynamic shadows, volumetric fog and all sorts of other impressive effects such as mirror effects. They would also use the occasion to finally get rid of minor issues related with timing the visuals with sound mixing, featuring a better sound support that was a problem in past id games. Most important, a special focus was given to let the game play with networking, they found a better way to relay frames/data, which contributed quite a lot in the rise of online multiplayer games. id's new engine would be used in a ton of classic games including the original Call of Duty, the Jedi Outcast games, Medal of Honor, American McGee's Alice and many more. After all these years, id finally released the source code around 2005 for the public.

A lot of thought was put into making Quake 3 the ultimate multiplayer shooter back in a time when Epic Games' Unreal Tournament was king (this is around the same Valve would make name for themselves on a similar idea with Counter-Strike, but long before the likes of Team Fortress or Left 4 Dead).

Basically there's no real story in Quake 3 to speak off.

The "plot" is just a mere excuse to bring all these different characters from all points in the galaxy to face each other in this intergalactic gladiatorial arena, in which they have to battle for the entertainment of this ancient alien race known as the Vadrigar.

The game begins with one helluva kickass introduction video showing how all these various warriors are being abducted from these various place in space and time, to participate in this "Quake Arena" tournament. Including this badass Sergeant, "Sarge", that was seen making one last stand against the Strogg somewhere off. (id would later use this original character again, revamped, as an antagonist in the story of Doom 3.)

And thus are brought together for the first time characters from the Quake and Doom series!

The game tries to blend the style of both previous Quake games, mixing some Gothic architecture with the scifi-esque hi-tech environments of Quake II. Also back from past id series are the Quad Damage power-up that can multiples weapons damage, a couple weapons such as the rocket launcher and the shotgun, and the traditional ultimate gun of the game, the BFG10k!

The game is divided in two parts - Single and Multi Player.

In the solo mode, the game has you play through all the maps, ranking through different tiers in order to face the final boss. Each level acting as a challenge of sorts, against one to several enemies. Getting tougher and tougher as the game progresses, and going man-a-mano with the local tier's main adversary at each end in a duel. From a pretty easy tutorial-esque Tier 0 where you're welcomed by Crash, to the last Tier 7 against Quake 3's final boss, Xaero.

The original game was designed to support up to 16 (!) players, which was and still is really impressive to this day, and actually rarely copied. These duels "boss fights" are also a fun way to clearly test your experience through this solo tournament.

The game offers five different difficulty levels, as per id tradition starting with the super-easy mode "I Can Win", to "Bring It On", "Hurt Me Plenty", "Hardcore" and finally the "Nightmare" mode (where the bots have no handicaps!).

Quake 3 is a pretty classic first person shooter, in terms of gameplay, revolving around multiplayer. Single matches are basically an offline tournament mode spread through these tiers. As such you can use these bots controlled by AI. The AI in Quake 3 is actually pretty fun and challenging, if anything thanks to the way id tried giving each of these characters its own intelligence, their own quirks and habits. It makes each foe you select in custom matches truly unique, as some will often prefer using some type of weapons over others. It really feels like you're fighting original characters and almost players at times, depending on your skill level. The computer-controlled foes are smart, their skills depending on the characters (from which tier they come from).

The weapons range from traditional submachine guns and shotguns to fun scifi weapons like the railgun and lightning gun. Some of these weapons are familiar redesigned weapons and the rest is all new.

It's a deathmatch game, so whenever you die, you respawn, losing all your previous weapons for the startup default weapons, usually the guantlet and machine gun.

Speaking of the online mode now.

There's all kinds of fun mode, which might be a bit basic by today's standards, but they're the best we still feature in our FPS games to this day. And honestly, the only modes I actually play myself whenever I play recent titles, personally. There's a free-for-all deatchmatch, team deathmatches, a tournament that acts like a 1-on-1 versus fight/duel, and finally the always fun capture the flag on these big symmetrical maps where you have to retrieve the enemy's flag to your HQs.

Quake 3 lets the player customize a lot of settings, including the entire controls (which was rare at the time), to the field of view and HUD screen.

Originally, the game was going to feature a grappling hook, but they ended cutting it entirely from the game (which was not a shame, since I don't believe we lost something here to be fair).

During testing, they used to play a live demo, to use some feedback from actual gamers. They were able to locate all the issues to better balance the game, and it shows. Like the lightning gun used to be originally way too strong and so they had to reduce it a bit. They also balance the gameplay by comparing fan-feedback and critics made on the earlier Quake 1 and 2. Like people didn't like how the rocket had been weakened in Quake II, and it was such a big part of the fun, so they didn't hesitate to make it stronger again, having a huge impact area.

Quake III Arena is a gory, violent shooter. For a mature audience only! In pure tradition of old id series.

The game has a really fun and fast-paced gameplay, it's a gorgeous colorful looking game with great crisp graphics. It's also much brighter and colorful compared to the brown-ysh previous titles in the series.

You could also have a ton fun with cheats (in the original), you could play around with those hidden features by using and entering codes via the in-game console, something I miss in games nowadays...

It was easily the best 3D-engine at the time, even the always fun and good Unreal seemed a bit sluggish and boring in comparison.

The game had this huge replay-value thanks to an online mode where you can always find some players to this day!!!

The game was well done and extremely polished, all items felt pretty neat and they all had their reasons to be used, nothing feels wasted or useless.

Quake III would make a huge impression on the entire gaming history. It defined a new standard for competitive games. It would be a landmark in the genre and be used in all these gaming competitions through the world - including id's own world-famous QuakeCon.

A little mention for Quake 3's fast-paced soundtrack. The music was composed by Sonic Mayhem. It features these aggressive science-fiction-ysh space-like tunes complemented by this atmospheric demonic metal! Each different to better suit the different maps, unlike the past Quake games which only really used one single type of tunes through the game.

Overall, QUAKE III came to define an entire genre, from that day forward people started referring to FPS as Quake-like and not Doom-like anymore (at least, back in the day).

The game received a huge positive reception, too much good acclaim, It's an highly addictive fun game. It was a gorgeous, fun and impressive-looking game for the time. Very fun. And it still is to this day, the game has barely aged and is a timeless classic. All thanks to its great art direction and fun level design.

Highly Recommended

Some people find the game a bit chaotic at times whenever there's too many players on screen, feeling it too crowed. But I say it's all part of the fun! 

It's such a fun original game! There are some truly unique platform-based space levels, which are a bit harder to handle, but just as fun! The game also has a really good and impressive artificial intelligence on part of the bots, which really helped sell the game at the time. It just feels like a perfect and complete well made FPS, well polished and well balanced to the details.

There were a lot of ports of Quake III Arena, both official and fanmade. The major ones being the Dreamcast port, done by Raster Productions & Sega in 2000 and the PS2 update, from Bullfrog Productions and Electronic Arts. The Dreamcast version was truly impressive for the time thanks to its pitch-perfect port of the entire keyboard-based controls to a game pad, a constant smooth frame rate and the ability to do online play on this port. It used some dedicated servers to run the game (most are still running) and allowed the ability to play against PC gamers, something truly unique I have never ever seen anymore in any game to date. Most of the changes and new maps added to the game would later be offered to the PC through the below expansion. The PS2 port was a more thorough change to the game, offering a specially designed console exclusive mission-based single player mode, but entirely lacking online support which is a big shame. Also the huge loading times didn't help it. The original game would also be re-released on Xbox live. A Nintendo DS port was planned but never released. A web browser-based port was announced under the title Quake Zero, which was really launched as Quake Live in 2008 and is just as highly recommended. 

There were also some mobile phone ports and unofficial ones (such as the PSP's). The game would also spawn a ton of fan-made and id-produced mods, some complete different shooters. 

An official expansion was released in 2000 under the title Quake III: Team Arena.

The Quake series would be followed by a return to the "main series" spawned from Quake II, as Quake 4 in 2005. But id has been known to love to return to this fan-beloved multiplayer formula from time to time, such as with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (in 2007), Quake Arena Arcade (in 2010) and the above Quake Live (in 2010).

I give it:
3 / 3 Quacks!

VGR: Quake III: Team Arena aka Team Arena or also TA or Q3:TA
By id Software/Activision
Type Expansion pack
Year 2000

Quake III: Team Arena is a December 2000 expansion for the original game Quake III Arena.

It was one of those rare add-ons actually developed by id itself. It expanded on the idea of team gameplay and focused the entire expansion on these new game modes. Team Arena also added a few new weapons, items and characters to the original game (most taken from Sega's addition in the Dreamcast port, omitting the few reference to the spiral logo in-game).

The new characters and weapons are nice but forgettable, my favorite being this Wolfenstein-inspired giant cyborg-soldier. In fact, his backstory seems to directly allude to the Wolfenstein games.

The tier system was entirely ditched for a simpler arcade-style playthrough. You can play anything you want in any order as soon as you want to!

The game saves statistics and whatnot, now featuring a medals system. The game also added the concept of clans, which is nice.

The new music was composed by Front Line Assembly this time, which kinda works and complements well Sonic Mayhem's.

Overall: Unlike the original game, it wasn't as well received and was heavily criticized for its lack of real new additions, innovations and original ideas.

The real problem also was that most of these ideas had already been implemented by a lot of fans in all sorts of mods by then.

It tries to give Quake 3 a new skin, but really seems lacking. There's nothing new really, only a couple of "skins", literally. The old maps were also edited a bit, not for the best in my opinion.

It feels a bit rushed to please most fans, but the real fans are the ones that liked it the least at the time considering the lack of effort that seemed to be put into it.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

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