For a couple of days before Quakecon, a Quake remaster certification was doing the rounds letting us all know that iD’s seminal shooter was returning to modern machines in an enhanced form. To say that its surprise drop onto stores during Quakecon itself was a happy shock to the system is an understatement.
There’s no understating just how influential both Quake and DOOM have been for game design since iD brought them screaming to PC’s years ago, and while DOOM has never left the gaming stage, it’s finally time, on its 25th Anniversary, for us to see just how influential Quake was and, quite frankly, still is. Quakes importance, you see, goes beyond its full 3D nature and the introduction of polygon enemies over 2D sprites. It’s about the entire package though two element do stand out above the enemy design, gibbing combat and industrial soundtrack: the ferocious combat and superb level design. Two elements that put a lot of modern shooters to shame with ease.
Nightdive Studios have become the masters of FPS remasters. Using their incredibly versatile KEX Engine, they’ve brought Quake across in its entirety, while updating it with all new visual bells and whistles. But Nightdive didn’t just stop there for this 25th Anniversary remaster, they’ve added a ton of content on to keep you playing for hours making this the most comprehensive Quake package you will ever need.
Apart from the base game, all of Quakes previous expansions; Scourge of Armagon, Dissolution of Eternity and Dimension of The Past, are packaged here along with a brand new episode from Wolfenstein developer, Machine Games, Dimension of The Machine. But that’s not all. Quake 64 has also been included as a download along with Deathmatch multiplayer for local and online support. Oh, and there’s crossplay as well so you can kill your friends regardless of which platform they choose to purchase this on.
On the visual side of things, this remaster looks fantastic, even with its pixelated textures and angular level design. Nightdive have added a whole bunch of graphic options to the game – all of which can be turned off – to bring it up to today’s standards. There’s adjustable FOV, anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, depth of field, motion blur, enhanced models and interpolation, fog, coloured lightmaps (which was introduced in Quake 64), dynamic shadows and texture smoothing, which I kept off. The games particle effects, especially for the grenade and rocket launchers, which I loved all those years ago, still look fantastic today.
None of that would mean anything if Quakes hyper-aggressive gameplay hadn’t aged well. Which makes me joyous to say that the games breakneck, blistering combat speed is still as wonderfully, violently cathartic as it was on release. And make no mistake, Quakes combat is fast. Exceedingly so. Enemies may not have the same AI range on today’s releases, but their aggressive desire to kill you means you can’t sit on your laurels. Each combat encounter is a dance of movement as staying still is a death sentence. You’re constantly on the move, avoiding sword strikes, leaping attacks and grenades and you have to counter their aggression with an equal measure of your own. Mowing down the various beasties that inhabit this Lovecraftian and medieval inspired world is addictive beyond belief. Even more so on higher difficulty settings which do more than just increase the damage you take, but also increase the enemy count per level. That elevator at the beginning of the game may have no enemies in it on easy, one on normal, and two or more as you go up the difficulty scale. I usually only ever play Quake on the hardest difficulty for this alone.
The other star of Quake, as I mentioned before, is the superb level design. Levels are full of secrets, have enemies roaming specific areas while the overall map design is designed to loop back on itself in certain places. It’s a far cry from the linear corridor shooters, regardless of how well the developers try to hide it, that we’re used to today. As much as combat is a thrill, so too is exploration and finding all the secrets along with every enemy emplacement. Yet another superior ages old design compared to warping in arena areas. The truth is, modern developers could learn something from this masterclass in game and level design.
As a download, Quake 64 is a nice addition to have. There are differences between Quake proper and the N64 version, most notably the removal of the difficulty selection level and changes to the architecture. The gunplay is still just as fast and furious though. If there’s one niggle with Quake 64, it’s that this is a straight up port of the N64 version that’s been made to fit on modern resolutions. Sadly Nightdive didn’t put any remastering work into this version so the resolution is stretched to 16:9 making the game incredibly blurry. It’s not unplayable, it just takes a while to get used to what you’re seeing. After the stellar work that Nightdive put into DOOM 64 Remastered, I was hoping that Quake 64 would have gotten some love too. Hopefully in the future. . .
Finally, we have Quake Deathmatch which you can play online or local co-op with four player splitscreen. It’s a bare bones package compared to today’s shooters and their multiplayer options, but no less fun and crossplay goes a long way to sweetening the deal.
Twenty-five years after its initial release, Quake is still an enthralling beast of a game. Superb level design, brutal and aggressive combat and all the content you could ever want make this remaster the best version of Quake there is. You need this. It’s that simple.
For much more on the re-release of Quake, visit https://bethesda.net/en/game/quake you can also purchase the game there as well.
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