Thursday, 28 November 2013

Resident Evil 6

This game interests me on various levels. For a game with this much clout to it, I find it surprising but entirely unjustified that people are going in with attacks on its presentation; it changes and deviates from a supposedly socially-accepted norm for a genre that, as a series, it created itself; it has fallen into the 'marmite' selection of games where people either love it or hate it (and one or two spread it on toast). It also has zombies in it and other such fun monsters that need a royal arse kicking, preferably with a magnum or something more lethal.

In essence, we've 5 games in one based around various levels we get to see during the game. 3 games are the main story mode where you'll progress from A to B, killing the infected, undead, brown bread and done-up-like-a-kipper enemies that need more than just a smack in the mouth to fix and solve the situation of "how to get from living enemy to dead enemy" which has plagued almost every video game villain/opponent since day 1.

Control wise, it plays very much like a third person shooter in that "over the shoulder" view used within the series back with Resident Evil 4. Items and weapons are on two inventory wheels and the new addition to the system is the advent of health pills that can be popped in rapid succession for oneself or a downed partner to get them back in action more quickly. Weapons effectively remain with the characters the entire time rather than the inventory switching around used in RE5 between rounds, opting instead to have things bought through experience points gained including infinite ammo for each weapon type. It does take a short while to get used to the new system but feels a lot more intuitive than RE5 managed to make itself but not as efficient in its deliver as RE4 was when it adjusted to the 3rd person camera approach.

The first story is the campaign with Leon Kennedy and generic new face mcbreasty having shot the president in the head (after becoming a zombie, sadly) and taking the slowly building and suspenseful approach to a long build up to an actual zombie attack with the obligatory jump scares. The first run through of the first level takes elements from previous games and even self-references situations from the first game Leon was in, where in people are fighting through the streets against zombie infections. It takes roughly an hour or so to get from the start of the first level to the end of the first level and packs in so much that it would have been most of a game in its own right back in the mid-late 1990s.

Large building, check. Sewers, Check. City scapes, check. Meeting other survivors, check. Watching them get killed horrifically in nasty attacks as a result of their own stupidity, check. The only thing missing from the first level is the underground huge complex that turns up in level 2. Then we hit the plane in a rather jaunted fashion to China and blow up a dinosaur that sprouted out of a man and back again while juggling a forced little 3way situation between Leon, McBreasty and Ada Wong. Nobody really wins on that.

This particular game is set and based around gradual and slow builds towards the medium level enemies that result in being challenging, if only because of the lack of availability of higher power weapons, which can be seen in other sessions. The main focus is on the zombies as the slower and more predictable enemies and leaves for the game having a slower felt pace towards the general feel. Almost as if it's a "beginners" session for the game, and becomes a little jarring in the cross over sessions with the faster paced characters that have fought tougher opponents (i.e. the ones with real guns or can do instant-kill moves against our protagonists).

As a campaign, it feels more of a return to the original games (barring the helicopter/train crashes and huge monsters fighting around buildings with lightning strikes from the heavens. It's the big budget Hollywood special remake of the gritty original B-Movie, no cast, games.) If anything it feels like a subversion of the movie industry doing big money remakes of films and losing all the tact and subtlety of the original games. Most noted when the plane crashes in China, fire-balling everything out, spotting another character UPON a train, before walking out and meeting 2 other characters involved in the plot and fighting the big stalker monster of the game, before meeting the other characters in a fight then riding another train out while battling a giant monster.

After the 3rd act it goes WAY overboard compared to the first two acts that manage to build suspense and give a slow rolling inertia to the pace and setting of the game, then it goes all Michael Bay on us and loses its integrity. But still pretty to watch the CGI fireworks. It depends on your preference, yes the genre has changed from what it originally and occasionally dips into the Hollywood banding and because of the way CGI can be made, there's little limit on the excessiveness of what can be achieved.

Second story is the Modern Warfare take on the zombie invasion, with no zombies. Starting off instead in China with Chris Redfield, series staple rock punching hard case, and a new guy, Mr ArmyYoungDisposableMan who looks better on the cover of magazines advertising 'generic new man' specials. Following the two on a mission to rescue people while blowing up buildings and shooting idiots with spider like faces in masks that shoot back. Very little to do with zombies and almost entirely apart from Umbrella and other such previously established names and organisations. Yet this makes sense, we're DONE with Umbrella, and we're looking at the world wide view and other companies taking the remnants of Umbrella and making their own contraptions and creations/creatures. Going beyond Raccoon City and STARS to the BSAA and the world wide prevention of B.O.Ws and punching them out (if you're Chris at least).

The 2nd story runs a bit of the back-story showing the former group of soldiers with Chris and FreshFaceMan taking on small militias of enemy soldiers and giant monsters too large and impractical to develop and use in small skirmishes as overkill, and too large to use pretty much anywhere else as being too big and inviting tanks, choppers and planes to open fire on them.

This might be expected with the key players armed with machineguns, rifles and the more heavy duty weaponry and as such, get to have the fun time of taking on the greater number of enemies and the more gung-ho approach to the gaming, in their quest to find the villain that caused all the big problems in the flashback and turned Chris's team into a bunch of muppets with a few syringes in a grenade. (Yep... makes sense in ... never), before enjoying a pointlessly destructive fight with a giant snake, chases through cities against a sports car that would destroy the speed limit while in a Humvee. Attacking an aircraft carrier, attacking ANOTHER aircraft carrier with a Harrier, then going deep underwater to battle the big bad monster to end the world, and having a very long-winded battle against what is more accurately described as a translucent foetus.

Again, the story escalates from being pseudo realistic/appreciable, to becoming full on crazy-bullshit within a level and a half and never going back on that. It's a shame when the game forgets the situation that it has started upon and whether through the use of too large a department in making the game, or some people just not getting the right memo about consistency.

The third story starts off as possibly the more interesting of the 3 main games with the storyline being that Sherry Birkin (daughter of the great inventor/asshat, William Birkin) has gone the super powered healing route and now not under government surveillance, is allowed to roam free in working for the government to find and locate Jake (Wesker's son) whose blood holds the cure to the current virus outbreak. Basically, she needs him to come along and play nice, everyone else is not playing nice, so he's a ninja with speed and power moves while she's got a stun rod.

It basically sums up the start.

Through their story they get chased down by one HUGE son of a bitch that makes Nemesis look like a midget, with interchangeable guns and a cage. Most of their story is running from this guy or other indestructible creatures (like the creature with the chainsaw of flesh... yes...I said that) and fighting various troops or monsters. Or running from a tank, before they too end up underwater and fighting the big guy again in a fist fight brawl that apparently works despite spending the whole game and a 6month period of imprisonment, shooting him with Gatling guns, shotguns, explosives barrels, dropping buildings on him, ramming him with an industrial drill taken from Total Recall, dunking him in lava for yet ANOTHER return (instant bad guy, subtract legs) to the final magnum in the face.

There's an attempt to highlight how a bad guy can be money grubbing one moment, human the next and not having to be tied down to whomever his father was and how avenging death is not necessary when there's guys to shoot that explode into insects and various monsters that can worm wriggle their way back together and give you an Alien Chest burst death if they get close enough to kiss you. By the time the "story" comes about, you won't give two shits and you'll be busy running up combos that Bruce Lee would have called bullshit upon.

And that seems to be the biggest issue with the game. Part way through the story, plot and everything that has been built up, is thrown aside and destroyed by the urge to one-up itself in a poor display of disregarding everything previously established to show a wank-fest of explosions, big special effects and the like of which would have cost millions in a film. Which in itself is destroyed when things like this in the game DON'T cost that much to make. But with the emphasis on this supposed big-budget situation, atmosphere and plot are shoved aside and relegated to the back seat.

Given the game has that co-operative function, used again since the RE5 attempt, there's pros and cons to the involvement of other people. A good partner can aid the game and blitz through the system with remarkable ease and battling bosses can be made easier (depending upon the boss). The AI can have issues with trying to get back to yourself to get you picked up and healed, while another player will (usually) put it in higher priority. Though you could get some boneheaded player that will be walking around every situation and taking their sweet time and eventually fall into various traps over and over. While the AI won't do that. They could also fail Quick Time Events while the AI never does. The use of another player can speed things up with considerable difference to not using them, IF they know what they're doing.

At various points in the plot, the game will pause for approximately 60 seconds, at points where multiple characters intersect from other storylines, to find other players who are at that point as well. Case in point: After Leon and Busty McTitty crashes down from a jet-plane, they encounter Jake and Sherry and a fight kicks off with the giant Nemesis-Wannabe in a scrap yard where a double-decker bus is sitting. At this point, the game will try to connect with someone else playing the game, in the same point on the Jake and Sherry team, and combine the 4 together for the fight, including having a person from each pairing, having to combine forces in a Quick Time Event. Incidentally, anyone dying fails it for everyone. It's an interesting way of engineering this all together though the costs for failing are rather high where someone random is joining the game. This has everyone joining up with everyone else at least once (if the game permits this in the settings) with Jake and Sherry teaming up with Chris and NewbieSoliderMan three times during their respective campaigns.

This however does run nicely into the much more interesting aspect of the online mode where the game has bottle neck points of enemies attacking which can be populated by other players, playing as the monsters. Ranging from zombies (with an assortment of weapons) to dogs, lizard beasts, fly-people, worm-filled monsters, powered zombies, knife-wielding troopers, mutant crows, walking pustule bombs and armour-plated goliaths, all with the sole purpose of screwing up the players by attacking and hopefully killing the main heroes. You can respawn as many times as you want until they heroes leave that particular area.

In easy mode, it can be a real chore to batter someone down to the critical point and then deliver a killing blow, more frustrating when you do all the work and the AI makes the kill and even MORE frustrating when the other player quits like a pansy. A good team up with another player allows for 2 people to stalk and try to kill the hero player(s) and although only one of them can make the final kill, it's actually a very rewarding feeling when one of you distracts the player so your partner can sneak up behind them and deliver the killing blow.

Personal preference goes to the worm-filled skins that can effectively instant-kill someone if they grab a hold of them and then it becomes instant worm-face snogfest death. Hilarious and you know it's just pissed off someone else's day.

Other vs. modes include the mercenaries modes where players pick a character and try to survive and score as many points as they can within an arena until the time runs out or they kill everything, including the involvement of hidden bosses or super monsters such as fatty-boy zombies, lizards and a whole host of nasty pieces of work. Modes where you take control of the biggymonster of the game and try to kill everyone else within an allotted amount of time or playing a sort of vs. mode where the more monsters you kill, the more spawn in your opponents arenas. They're an interesting subset of the game and have a level of appeal but to be honest, I'd much rather have more of the Trolling Mode where you get to be the monsters. It's a lot more fun, in some cases more fun than the story mode, trying to hunt down and kill someone else and ruin their fun.

It's a very mixed bag for the game, it has good points, it has bad points, and it has terrible banging-skull-against-wall points. It can be appreciated if you can REALLY suspend your belief for some of the cut scenes but that's going quite a stretch for the game that already has the supposition that not only do zombies exist, but people are freely making monsters in competing companies/organisations. It's the attempt to make a move into a bigger and more expansive world within the Resident Evil franchise but it's taken in far too wrong a direction akin to the excessive sequalisation. If Resident Evil 1 is the same as Saw, then Resident Evil 6 is Saw with people lobbing nukes at each other while dropkicking helicopters of explosives towards Blue Whales. It's only really the name that's keeping the same and the use of a few characters from earlier instalments, but the game isn't the same.

Not to say it's a bad game, it's a responsive game, it's a good co-operative experience, it's a great trolling-session with the bad guy mode, but it is a bad addition to the established order of the franchise. It's the difference between Alien and Alien 3, some good ideas and most of the film done really well but very different over all in sense and feeling that the film tries to stay loyal to the roots but goes about it in such a convoluted way, that it misses the point it tries to make and might have fared better as a stand-alone experience rather than part of the series.

At the very last, naked breasty boss with tentacles for the shot gunning! Will the next game just have full on mutant porn?

Monday, 25 November 2013


Few games were ever so ambitious as EpicMegaGames (now just Epic... a rather modest title) and their attempt with Unreal. A wide open series of expansive levels, gorgeous scenery, various races of enemies, native creatures and a sprawling planet wide enslavement force that you just so happen of which to be caught up in the middle from the peaceful emaciated and pseudo aboriginal/ethinic-minority aliens and the techno advanced oppressors with their larger, faster, deadlier, creatures and weaponised technology.

You play as Captain McNoFace, a generic 100 hit point wonder with a background of pointlessness and has key useful skills in moving and using weapons, crash landing his way on a prison ship into an odd gravitational field of a planet and wake up on your cell floor as the only survivor of the ship. After a rather atmospheric and dark exploratory check around the wreckage, grab yourself a gun, escape from the shadowy INHUMAN thingies and step outside into the bright world of Unreal while your jaw hits the floor at the sheer size and scope of the first outdoor arena being larger than anything most games bothered to even make in their entirety. Yes, Unreal is an epically large game, particularly for its time.

As FuckHead McNoBrain, you will travel here, there and everywhere trying to get back off the planet by scouting mines, enemy ships, other human ships that crashed nearby (read: fucking miles away, as in, half the game away), sky lands, mother ships and final bosses sat right beside the highest point of escape, the pod.  On the way you'll encounter a myriad of helpful aliens (try not to shoot them, it makes them less amenable to your cause), guns of all shapes and sizes from a gem-shooter that fires like a machinegun or shotgun depending on your alt-fire. Miniguns (compulsory in 90's shooters) multi-load rockets, explosive grenades, 1-2-combo laser cannons, sniper rifles (pop those heads off) and a bogey gun with explosive bogies. I wish I was making that last one up, though it's called a different name and lets you fire rapid pulses of explosives bogies or charge up to hock a fat sticky mucus ball that slides down a bit on walls before detonating into lots of bogies.

Story/plot is told through a translator GUI that beeps when you walk past the relevant message prompting box to get you look and read the events occurring around you, much like Marathon did with its view screen/terminals. Each one will likely give you helpful information on your objective or some developing lore regarding the game's plot and such.

While it all sounds nice and pretty, get ready. Each enemy within the game acts like a death match bot, perhaps rather fitting and preparing for the later instalments of Unreal Tournament series, but every enemy will try to side-step, dodge, flank, use the level around themselves to hide, take cover, attack from vantage points and such. Most notably the predator-esque creatures that have claws on their wrists and fire energy balls, seen to be diving and dodging like mad-things much in the same way the player can (and should).

From huge fat lumps with rocket launchers, to the Predator guys, to suited and booted alien marines with lasers and grenades to the flying demon monstrosities, every creature is carefully sculpted and crafted to be physically unique and identifiable, yet seems to adhere to the same movement rules as the player, except the titans which act as the games "oooh fuck" element whenever you encounter one. (and as an "ah shit" when you meet two at once).

With such a size and scope, this game seems and feels empty at times. There's the occasional hut and so here and there, castles and outposts, a village at one point, but with so few people and enemies occupying the game (until the bigger battles at least) the sparse landscape and it's pretty appearance, are very devoid of life, perhaps as a limitation on the engine at the time or being traded for the processing power of the large scale maps and carefully intricate details. It just feels empty, even back in the day of playing the game.

Though when I say that the game is huge, you really do get the feel of being on a massive (if a little linear) planet, travelling across wastelands, lush meadows, canyons and caves, climbing towers to find sky-lifts into airborne towns, battling through giant spaceships and destroying power sources to enjoy pitch-black levels that atmospherically incorporate the flashlight into the fray. That said however, sometimes the game is TOO big and level design can leave a player very disorientated and confused, particularly in the more dungeon based levels where backtracking is expected and does occur. It can leave a player rather daunted as to where to go next and whether or not they've hit the right switches to open the levels up and unlock essential doors.

The controls of the game are the much used 8 way direction, mouse look, fire and alt fire, while using inventory spaces and extra navigation for items and extra buttons for using such items or bringing up details like the translator, it can take a little while to get used to where to use things and being in an intense and fast paced battle, mean the difference in winning and reloading with annoyance. Oddly, there's a dodge system in the movements, allowing players to spring in one of 4 directions to avoid attacks, which is great when fighting in an open landscape but a cause of death if trying to navigate narrow walkways and double tapping a direction sends you FLYING off the fucking edge into lava.

Bit of a balls up there.

Graphically the game is gorgeous, there's no doubt on that account, sound-wise the game sports a rich host of fine effects and audio garble from the inhuman creatures, though sounding more like foreign speak than something truly alien in presentation. The musical accompaniment never really gets beyond being a background ambience, the occasional pseudo-techno tracks during high speed/action areas which doesn't stop once you'll killed everything, can kill the atmosphere and plunge it into the shadowy, stinky recesses of dullness.

The unfortunate part of the game, is that you won't meet another character that helpfully explains the plot, or tells you why not to shoot everything, or where to go next, it's done entirely through finding the relevant hieroglyphs and in some cases, deciphering the details to ascertain where upon one might find the next snippet of plot or direction. Further confusion being raised when one is told to power something up (hit a switch) or depower something (hit another switch) with no indication on the location of the button or what it even looks like, which results in some awkward trial and error game play mechanics. Some piss-poor level design allows for you to jump ahead to a button or switch you WILL have to push but not yet, to be told "not yet" in far more descriptive terms with no real guidance on where the switch you NEED to press now is currently located.

But what is Unreal, ultimately? An experience more so than a game, it's an adventure into the alien architecture of unreality (geddit?) and the fruits of labour of some visionary individuals, culminating in a slightly off-centre aim leaving an audience with its breath-taken one moment and frustrated in the next.

I still don't get why the last boss would be so close to the escape pod that it cannot fit inside...

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Dare I review this? Dare I sit there and look at this piece of work and do what nearly everyone else has done since the day it was released? Of course I do. It's not that I have the bollocks to do it, it's quite simply because it's a game that everyone should play at some point or another (if they haven't already, or even if they HAVE already) just to re-familiarise themselves with what a high standard of gaming should look like and should feel like to play.

Half-Life was very unlike most other games of the First Person Genre. The majority of games were (some still ARE) the simple affair of getting from point a to point b and kill anything that rises up in the way. Doing that in Half-Life will get you... barely out of the first room as your plot based exposition/conversation has to take place with an NPC for them to get the door to open. It's an odd situation when you're used to seeing ANYTHING move and trying to kill it.

For the controls, you have your now standard setup of forwards, back, left, right, use, jump mouse looking, shooting, alternate shooting and crouching. Nothing particularly fancy compared to games with going prone or using parkour to navigate levels like some hopped up prick on coke with springs up his arsehole. Yet the engine works well and the movement/control system is practically faultless, though it can take a little time to realise that sometimes you need to jump THEN crouch to get into some awkward spaces.

The game starts off with the player riding the monorail in a huge underground complex and in an odd twist, can do NOTHING for the first few minutes while you're being conveyed around a place that is showing off the engine's capabilities. Yet nothing is held in such a way to force you to look at the events taking place, in fact you could be watching one thing and miss something else just equally as awesome. Rather than some games that control a player’s vision and forces them to watch something they might necessarily NOT be looking at immediately, just for the designers to show off a complex special effect. It's jarring to the players to see and to watch what's going on while interrupting the flow of play. Not here, not in this game. You CAN miss the special effects and likely will.

While riding a fixed box for around 5 minutes, you'd think it'd be boring, but with so much eye candy to be shown, especially for the time, large areas showing off the detail with little slowdown, it makes for a rather grand opening and gives way to people being treated to a story without exposition, seeing into the world laid out at Black Mesa, the experiments being conducted, the machines being used, the size and scale laid out in multiple maps as well as the oddly hidden, and decidedly NOT ominous involvement of the military with a helicopter.

The action doesn't kick off until nearly 20minutes into the game (or 5 hours if you're that much of a prick acting slowly) and you shove a shopping trolley with a big gem into a bright light. Tits go up, shit goes down and you're suddenly teleporting back and forth between one reality and another before it all goes dark and some aliens are staring at you. Back to this world and all that glittered and was pure is now smashed, blown up (or blowing up) misfiring, malfunctioning and generally hazardous to your health.

Once outside it, you start to realise that you're going to need some of these survivors to help unlock doors and such to let you progress. In the meantime, you'll grab some guns and work your way through air vents and complexes in your journey back to the surface. Before long the military start killing anyone they find so your job gets harder while fighting back the gung-ho cover up attempt while at the top and running across the desert fighting tanks and helicopters.

Eventually you meet the group that could fix the problem and start to delve down into firing up the processes to begin hunting through the alien world and killing the problem at one of the sources (which we know is not the case thanks to the event that was Half-Life 2).

The whole time you're being attacked by aliens left and right, ninja assassins, marines, psychic dog beats, huge shark monsters, armour-plated aliens with bee guns, giant tumour carrying crab beasts, walking tanks with flame throwers, lightning blasting monsters and the almost cute, head crab creatures. The selection and variety of enemies and situations is vast and almost different in every situation, sometimes being shown things, sometimes alluding to future meetings.

The game tells a very rich and developing storyline told through varying guises of over hearing conversations, direct conversations, listening in on radio broadcasts, watching scenes of combat unfold around one's self whilst trying to sneak around the combat or plough through it with some big tanks firepower etc. Nearly every situation has multiple ways of defeating the enemy/traps until you get to the alien world where the game becomes intergalactic leapfrog time. Which is a shame, as the lack of cohesive plot seems to drop by this point and it almost seems like the alien levels were tacked on when the game should have jumped to the end point with the spooky G-Man, a character who has been following you around during the whole game and now finally presents himself to the player in the grand finale with the ultimatum of "join up or get fucked", in much more eloquent fashion than I've stated.

It brings about a rather disappointing end with too jarring a change not only pace and atmosphere, but also in style and game play, bringing in the long-jump mechanics into the fray when there's very little of the game left to play. But at this point, I'm nit-picking; it's a mild annoyance but a very memorable one while the rest of the game is a steady, solid progression from start to near-finish, then to go to pot very quickly unfortunately.

It doesn't take much to remember some of the more impressive moments, be it running from a Goliath, navigating train tracks to get from one depot to another, avoiding drowning by using barrels to raise a lift to jump across, going toe-to-toe with tanks, APCs and helicopters, avoiding collapsing buildings, utilising alien and experimental weaponry, and all in a way that is a lot more rewarding than just going from a to b.

Admittedly it looks a little dated given today’s standards of gaming, but as a blindingly powerful example of how to do a FPS shooter right with a rich with storyline, progression, scaling difficulty and not making the player feel like a rat in a maze, THIS is one of the longest running examples of how to do it that you would have hoped many others would have taken the time and consideration to sit down, make notes and study this gem.

It's not a perfect game however, not by a long shot and the flaws and bugs become more evident the longer that you play it. The AI can be fairly easily tricked and duped once you recognise the patterns of play they utilise and set pieces can be completely over looked/bypassed once you realise the tricks of the engines to make jumps that the designers never really accounted for. The Strafe Jump technique can be rather a large boost once momentum is on your side.

Aside from the game itself, it should be mentioned that the modding community took to Half Life like a duck to water, spawning some of the biggest and most profitable mods, eventually turned full games in their own right on the same engine (counter strike being a prime example and Team Fortress after their stint on Quake engine), while these have little impact on the review of the game itself, they still deserve a level of recognition from the starting point that Half Life gave them.

Dated, certainly. Flawed, in places. Fun, definitely and all the more reason I want to keep playing it.

Monday, 18 November 2013


If Doom is the recognised Great Granddaddy of the First Person Shooter genre, then Quake is the Grandfather of 3D First Person Shooters. Not that pseudo 3D perception we'd been given with Doom, Duke, and any BUILD game for that matter, or indeed the Marathon series of games. But a TRUE, actual 3D set of architecture, 3D models for virtually everything from weapons to pickups and so on. Quake holds the most recognised crown for it and paved the way for the games like Unreal, Half-Life and so on.

Quake still holds true to the Doom formula, as one might expect of ID software, in which players get from point a, to point b, in an as "alive" state as possible, preferably with as many guns and as much ammo as one can acquire. What functions slightly differently is that the game gives you a 3D run down of the difficulties (Easy, Normal, Hard... and nightmare if you can find it) then you may select which of the 4 episodes you wish to begin, battle your way through the levels, kill the end enemies and exit with the rune. Once you've gained all 4 runes, you'll see the end level open up and from there you combat the final boss that has caused the situation in the first place resulting in one-lone-hero syndrome.

Sort of...

Let's start with the positives. Bearing in mind I'm taking a look at the original Quake with no additions, mods, enhancements or other such little situational changes (like using OpenGL etc.).

The game is fast, even on low end machines for the time, the optimisation of the code is impressive nonetheless for the game and even while showing levels in some of the most outstanding shades of brown imaginable, (seriously... almost everything is brown, perhaps something to be not-so-proud of for the future of gaming, turning everything "realistic" brown) the character's movement in and around the game is often very fluid and rather quick, which is taken to extremes in the speed runs of the game.

Enemy AI is little more than the doom system with opponents often taking the most direct route to you and moving back and forth a little if they cannot, animations are clunky but we're talking of a game that would have hand-designed these animations and models rather than using 3D scanners or body mapping for motion. There's no ragdoll but that never came into the fore until after Quake 3, so there's no point slagging off the game on that regard. However it would be nice to have enemies that weren't outfoxed by a brick wall and a corner.

Enemy variation is the usual mixed bag we've come to expect from ID software, though less varied as in Doom 2. There's your zombie marines with shotguns, zombie doggies, zombie heavy marines with lasers (a weapon you never get by the way) for the modern levels before you hit the time portals in each episode and then the game shows its roots as having started as a Dungeons and Dragons design. You'll be warped to castles and such where knights with swords, bigger knights with fire launching swords, magical worms that spit acid (I've not a clue what it's supposed to look like), zombies that can't be killed and need to be blown up, Fiends which resemble manic dogs with scythe arms and severe blood-mouth, tar-babies that blow up, ogres with chainsaws and grenades (the fuck???) and later Vores and Shamblers that are the more monstrous creatures that fire homing explosives and lightning respectively, often taking position in levels as a sort of boss creature.

This is where the game falls a little flat. The demo/shareware version is the first episode alone, sporting a good number of levels, multiple distinct enemies including even the shamblers (giant white yeti looking things that shoot lightning) and a boss creature that is part puzzle, part battle which rises out of lava, throws lava at you, and then is destroyed in lava.

You encounter nothing like that boss ever again; even the last boss is just a large BLOB with tentacles suspended above it that does NOTHING. Seriously, I've seen dead people offer more of a threat than this creature. While yes, it does have an army of the more nasty enemies to battle while you get to it, the actual fight with it is a cut scene if you time your jump through the teleporter at the right moment. After seeing the first boss of the first episode you cannot help but wonder did ID run out of time while making this and as such had to fudge the last boss? And lose making any other bosses too? It's rather inconsistent within the games (especially as there's videos of people beating the game in 100% kills, on the hardest mode, within 20minutes) you won't get to see anything like it again and it sticks out as such a variation from the norm, you can't help but wonder why it's not repeated or other such creatures had not been implemented.

Perhaps more a case of "Our demo is excellent, the rest we threw together"

Weaponry within the game is a fairly standard set up. Axes for the melee, shotguns of both single and double barrel flavours, nail guns of the dual and quad variety take place for the machinegun class. Grenade launchers for that dynamic angle of attacking, rocket launchers for the direct method and the lightning gun that sprays bolts in a constant, high-damage, stream. (Do NOT use it underwater, unless invincible). 8 weapons all in all and fairly consistent with ID for the variety. So nothing really adventurous there and nothing that packs the "wow" factor of a BFG (later Quake games however.... mmm 10k).

Various power ups will augment damage, boost health/armour or turn one invisible or even make one anti-god like (666 health, ho ho ho such humour), though usually found in places that they HAVE to be used or hidden so well nobody will find them.

Quake also brings to the fore, underwater swimming! This really gives you freedom of movement, screws up your resolution and makes it hard to see what you’re doing and lets you sink slowly if you just “remain” there. Drowning takes place shortly after and all guns work underwater, especially the lightning gun.

That pretty much is quake. Save for one final aspect of the game, the multiplayer.

There's the co-operative model for people that like to run through the game with infinite respawns while they and their barely-recognisably-human models attack all manner of enemies and even each other if they put the wrong friendly-fire setting on, with sometimes more enemies in places and the usual situation we've come to expect in Doom. And then there's the death match option, which is one of the most engrossing and fast paced action fests I've seen in a death match game in a very long time.

Every level can be used as a death match while also there are 6 specifically designed levels just for the death match experience ranging from the claustrophobic first level with a few key weapons and really for 2-4 players to the bigger and more deadly trap filled levels, one level that is more a tower of combat with height and floors playing more of a key role. The crown goes to level 5 and to a lesser extent, level 6 as the epitome of death match experience, particularly for groups of 4-16. The shotgun fires rapidly enough to cause a threat but the bigger weapons will slaughter people left and right.

This does however lead to an imbalance of a situation where someone gets the rocket launcher and goes ape-shit mental. It's hard to take someone down with one of those unless you have one of those or gang up on them. When a player is killed, they drop a pack holding ALL their ammo and the weapon they had selected, so it's possible to get their guns off them. This does however mean that someone will be running around with full ammo most of the time as the cumulative effect of picking up ammo drops means they'll hold all the ammo for all the weapons bar the one they were using at the time.

This however, is entirely negated if their ammo pack falls into lava or into a place nobody can get to. Leaving everyone to start their ammo collection over once again. There is a high level of thrill to running a corner, ending up behind someone and giving them both barrels in the back to launch them off the edge, dead, into some lava before running off to find your next victim. Sadly, spawning in front of someone who has a rocket launcher will leave you looking like a shower of blood pissing from every fissure and crack an explosion can give you. But we're still talking in an age of teething and few games had that mercy invincibility for freshly-spawned players.

The game is certainly worth looking into for those that want to relive the older, simpler, more FUN and faster paced games, or those that want to know where the lofty heights of Battlefield 53, Crysis 12 and even Quake 12 and Doom 72: Even more demons, came from and you can't do much better than Quake in that regard.

Incidentally, the Dope Fish lives!