Mac users finally get a say in the one of the greatest network shoot em' ups of all time.
by Misha Sakellaropoulo
For over a year now Mac users have had a very hard time arguing that Marathon, Marathon 2, and Marathon Infinity are simply the greatest shoot 'em ups of all time; and the reason for that can be summed up in one word: Quake. PC users gleefully accepted what would become one of the most popular games of the decade. Quake's unparalleled physics and sound were the best of any shoot 'em up; and if that wasn't bad enough Quake also featured a completely 3D game engine comprised of polygons. It was enough to make a Mac gamer sick and even wish they had a PC... but it is time we strike back and fill those PC users with those nails they love so much.
MacQuake has erupted onto the Macintosh platform and can arguably be called the most anticipated game of the year. And, like a lot of "Macintosh delayed release" titles (what I like to call them), it is considerably better than its PC counterpart.
Polygons, shadows, and (realistic) water... Oh my! Unlike games with misleading titles such as "Duke Nukem 3D", which was in fact a 2.5D game similar to the Marathon series, Quake is a full 3D experience. Weapons rotate, doors swing open, and when you walk around an enemy its body stays put allowing you to view the carnage from any angle. Quake's physics also contribute to the jaw dropping graphics: grenades ricochet of the walls with complete realism, the player can look all the way up (no limitations), and when swimming the water distorts your view with life like movement (although you can still see rather sharply). Another physics factor, the lighting, was meticulously designed while paying very close attention to detail. Enemies can now pop out of dark places, you can hide in the shadow of a pillar rendering yourself almost entirely invisible in a network game, the light in the hall flickers as the torch burns, and everything has a shadow. Quake's graphics and physics are definately the high points of the game.
The story behind Quake is the typical id hog wash (think Doom) and it is obvious that the creators were focusing more on the game than the story, which goes something like this. You play the role of a marine who learns that an enemy, code-named Quake (hence the name of the game) has been teleporting his creatures to earth to prepare for an invasion and, guess what, it's up to you to stop him. Unlike the Marathon series, Quake also lacks a progressive story line which means that it's just floor after floor of carnage until you finish an entire level (there are four) and you learn a screen's worth of rather useless information.
Networked Mayhem Although the single player game is very fun to play, and thanks to add-on mission packs Quake can keep your interest up for quite sometime, it's just a whole lot more fun to play with others. Once logged into a Quake server, get ready for the most intense shoot 'em up of all time.
There are numerous options for network play including the traditional death match game, death match with teams, capture the flag, carry the head, and future vs. fantasy Quake. The latter is perhaps the most interesting game, although personally I don't think it's the best. In future vs. fantasy Quake you can take on numerous different characters each with different abilities. The Ninja, for instance, can use his grappling hook to climb walls and hang from the ceiling while the cleric has an unlimited supply of magic (short bursts of the thunderbolt). Future vs. Fantasy is great for a few games, but you'll start getting annoyed when people start laying nukes down everywhere and you start dying five seconds after revive...
Quake supports all the typical connections from TCP/IP to Appletalk. TCP/IP is probably the option that most people will be playing and unfortunately the requirements are rather steep. On my 604 @ 150 MHz I have to shrink the screen down considerably to achieve smooth game play and high resolution graphics (playing smoothly at full screen in a single player game is not a problem for my machine. note: with the Power3D playing at full screen in a net game now is possible on my machine) while my 33.6 modem tries to keep up. The game play is still a bit jerky, but the new 56k modems or a faster computer could solve that problem.
The weapons: crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Apart from Duke Nukem, not a single game has truly developed unique weapons. Other games all follow the Doom model which consists of a melee attack, a gun, shotgun, chain gun, rocket launcher, and some crazy weapon. Quake follows that exact model, with a few twists. In Doom you had a chainsaw, but it was a wee bit noisy and would wake the neighbors so Quake's gone back to the slice an' dice simplicity of the ax, which can be one of the most powerful weapons against some creatures. The next change involves your standard weapon: a single barrel shotgun. I suppose they figured it was too unrealistic to send a one man army out to save the world with only a 9mm. Obviously if there's a shotgun there's going to be a double barreled shotgun, which releases twice the punch and takes twice the time to reload. In the rapid fire department you have two choices, both of which fire nails: there is the plain and simple double barreled nail gun, then the super nail gun (creatively called the Perforator) which delivers four barrels of armor-piercing nails (you'll spend most of your time on this gun - when you have the ammo). Next up are the "boom" weapons: a grenade launcher whose grenades can bounce off objects and which blow up after a short while, or when they connect with an enemy, and the rocket launcher which the manual describes as being the weapon to use when "a grenade positively, absolutely, has to get there on time". In the super unrealistic category there is the Thunderbolt, a weapon that discharges lighting, is extremely powerful, but eats it's ammunition like popcorn. By the way if you do not like your body well done don't use this weapon under water.
Quake's enemies are nothing out of the ordinary. There seems to be fewer of them but they're all more difficult to kill. Unlike Duke Nukem whose enemies were a little pixilated and moved like they were walking on air, Quake's enemies move more fluidly, are a bit smarter, and explode into large junks of kibble if blown up; leaving a trail of blood and their remains on the ground. Unlike Duke, though, once an enemies is dead there's no way of killing him again with a grenade.
As mentioned earlier, thanks to the delayed release, MacQuake is considerably better than the PC version. The Mac version uses a higher resolution (on the PC you were left at 320x280) allowing you to view everything full screen and non pixilated. I was able to run MacQuake at 640x480, full screen, without interlacing or double pixels, smoothly on my 604 running at 150 MHz. MacQuake does, unfortunately, require 15 megabytes of (preferably) physical RAM. Although you really only need a graphics accelerator if your running a slow 601 or 603, accelerated versions of the programs are included to take advantage of the 3DfX chipset and the RAGE chipset (which is built in on a lot of new MacOS systems and which the ATI cards use).
Worth The Wait Despite being postponed twice, MacQuake was able to retain all the hype that it had been building up until July 15th (which is when the game was originally scheduled to be released) and is definitely going to be a hit amongst Macintosh gamers everywhere. It's time we go on the internet and show those PC users that while the Mac platform may not have as many games, it certainly has better players.
amazing 3D graphics extraordinarily addictive and fun networked games great sound effects and music (Nine Inch Nails) captivating gameplay better than the PC counterpart
unimaginative story line weapons lack creativeity
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