Quake 2 was born on the PC, but this version for the Nintendo 64 is its own unique stand out gem of a science fiction first person shooter. Its a completely different game outside of the core gameplay and enemies. This is a standalone game and there’s no need to be familiar with the previous game. Where Doom 64 brought 2D sprites into a 3D environment, the Quake franchise brings full 3D monsters, guns and everything else. The full 3D is nice, but games like Doom 64 and its sprites look better.
There are around sixteen new levels with thirty missions. What I mean by missions, is that in each level you have stuff to do, such as collect explosives, then place them to blow up a power grid, or realign a satellite dish. If this sounds complex, its almost brainless, just walk up to something and it will activate.
It plays like your standard first person shooting game. You see from a first person perspective and you have full control of your aim, left, right, up and down.There are controls to jump, crouch and change your weapons. The more you explore the more secrets you’re bound to find with ammunition, armor and health. You’ll crawl through air ducts, dive under water and destroy explosive barrels to uncover these secrets.
You start with a standard pistol, but there are seven in all that you will find throughout the game. Each of these weapons feels like it serves a different purpose and has its own attributes. The machine gun can belt out bullets while the chain gun fires faster and takes a moment to start up. The single barreled shotgun is good for lesser enemies, but the double barrel does twice the damage and uses twice the ammunition. The rocket launcher fires straight forward, while the grenades from the grenade launcher can bounce around behind corners or down into pits that evade your gaze. The rail gun will kill enemies with one shot and its more useful as a sniper rifle in multiplayer.
The cool factor of the pistol bullets lighting up hallways makes up for the fact that other games have hit scan weapons that just automatically hit an enemy rather than these projectile based weapons. In a way its fair for the enemies and lets them dodge if they can. Otherwise its just a way to let them shoot back before their demise.
In terms of enemies, this is a mature game, so there are berserkers with bloody swords, mutants with chaingun arms that you can shotgun their heads off and watch them shoot blindly before they fall over dead. You can eviscerate the bodies. Its a whole level of detail and interaction that makes the game more fun. For every weapon you have, there is an enemy with it, including the rail gun, which is held by a mechanized walking mutant. Standard soldiers get shot and flip over. Four legged mutant animals charge at you. There are a variety of hovering enemies for you to destroy.
The bosses are so lackluster they’re non-existent in my memory. Completing the game should be more satisfying than the ending you’re given. After a congratulations screen, you’re given a password to have fun with. I’m happy to have a password to play with, but there should be more of a conclusion, but then what should I expect with a game that has no story in the game. Quake 2 is all action, just you versus monsters going from point A to point B.
As for the setting, its futuristic science fiction. Everything is clean and a little too perfect, but that’s the genre as a whole. Think of metal, unless it has a guitar and long hair, because you need to imagine steel floors and titanium walls with rivets. Green pools of toxic waste do damage and so does lava. Quake 2 has a little bit of every hazard including laser trip wires that you can plainly see. You’ll be fighting through warehouses, complexes and the occasional courtyard. A lot of the game is cluster phobic and linear with only a few alternate routes.
Quake 2 is a good game even on the N64. The only real downfall is that there are between ten to twenty enemies per ten minute level, making the game go by quick and easy even when using the N64 controller. However the second to last level is totally different from the previous levels making it nearly impossible for the player to complete. There are several death traps when previous levels have none. For veterans there are four levels of difficulty.
The game can really hang its hat on four player competitive death match. This is a lot of fun competing against your friends in special maps just for this mode. You all have your little split screen to hunt one another and whomever gets the most kills at the end of the time wins the round.
Most people will overlook the sound design, but I like to give it credit for having memorable and immutable sounds. The sound of the pistol, the guns, the pipe bombs bouncing around. Everything is quotable, a gasp, a grunt from a jump. It adds to the game’s fun factor. The booming title track also helps. You know you’re playing Quake 2 when the music cues up. Other than the standout title track, the game’s music is too subtle to be noticed. Its more ambient noise such as the whir of a gear or the snarls of enemies around the corner.
Speaking of the title track, the title screen is a Quake logo as the backdrop of a small monster battle. Its similar to Doom 64, but with less time and effort put in. This is nothing special other than monsters shooting their weapons at a camera that pans back to reveal the entire logo. In a way its a good taste of things to come, but in another it can spoil the shock of seeing the creatures yourself for the first time.
Between each level, you’ll see a galactic map showing that you’re going from planet to planet, asteroid to asteroid as you make progress. Its all just points and lines on this map rather than taking you from one area to the next, but its a nice break from the action.
Quake 2 is a game that I think a lot of people will miss out on the N64 version, but its well worth anyone’s time to check out. There is an excellent single player mode and a fun multiplayer game if you have the friends to play it.