Review: Quake LIVE (PC)

Okay, I’ll be brutally honest – I’ve never, EVER played a Quake game in my entire life. Which, being honest, has to be one of the worst gaming crimes you could ever commit;  I mean, you may get some slap off your friends for never having played Halo, but Quake? That series, just to iterate, is the third granddaddy of the FPS genre, sitting right next to the epic Doom and Wolfenstein franchises – the latter produced by the creators of Quake themselves, ID Software. Long story short – you don’t know what the FPS genre is if you’ve never tried your hand at Quake.

Indeed, the series is widely recognized for spawning the first ever type of Multiplayer FPS, something that the Gaming world has grown to love. Back when it was introduced, it was all about super-fast players and precision aim with a universally favourite weapon that the series spawned – the good ol’ Rocket Launcher. Games like Unreal Tournament have carried on this format for generations now, even if games like Halo and CoD decide to do things a little differently. And, thus, it wasn’t long until I realized I needed to have a go at the games. And that’s when I met Quake Live.

Quake live, for your information, is a free-to-play, pay-for-more FPS game that can only be played online. So far, it’s sounding like Quake III Multiplayer edition. But, then comes the trump card. Y’see, Quake Live doesn’t require awfully good system specs to run. I have a 2.4Ghz Intel Celeron Dual-Core PC with 2GB of RAM – hardly going to play Crysis, would that? Though, I can run Quake Live in 1152×768 full-screen mode perfectly.
The secret to it’s spec success? The fact that this game runs entirely in a Web Browser.

First reaction to a browser game? Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the game had terrible graphics. My response is that you would be partly correct – the game does indeed look like it’s being run on a Nintendo 64. But, face it, Nintendo 64 graphics in a Web Browser are revolutionary. All that the game requires to run is a small browser plugin, and you’re off with exceptional graphics for the platform. Google Chrome runs the thing extremely smoothly, and it left me thinking – why aren’t all games like this?

Let’s come to a halt with the technical side of stuff now, and focus on the main meat – the actual game itself. The game runs on the ID Tech 3 engine, the same one that was used to power Quak3 (it’s what I call it – the game’s called Quake 3) ten years ago. The engine may be starting to show its age when used for a normal title, but for a free-to-play online FPS that runs in a browser, it’s a perfect fit. Open up the website http://www.quakelive.com/,  sign up for a free account, go through the training session with ‘Crash, the Female Robot’, choose a lobby in the browser, and jump right in. It’s THAT simple. Lobby game types include FFA (ditto), Clan Arena (Team Deathmatch, where everyone has one life), Team Deathmatch (dittotacular), and Capture the Flag (dittomanjaro). More game types like Freeze Tag (Clan Arena, but instead of having only one life, you get frozen when fragged – a player can warm you up again by keeping you company) are playable with some dirt-cheap subscriptions, but we’ll get to that part later.

Being used to games like Halo, I found it unorthodox to myself that the player speed and sensitivity were turned up to eleven for this romp; give it a few minutes, though, and new players will quickly get used to how things go in the fantasy world. As I’ve popped in earlier, Unreal Tournament players are going to feel right at home here. The first weapon you spawn with is the generic Machine gun – a weak weapon, taking a professional at QL to actually rinse one person with it in their mitts. The other, more powerful weapons are dotted across the map as pickups. On the balancing side of things, it does take a very precise aim to kill someone with a powerful weapon. Plus, if any of you are having doubts about spawning players getting spawn-mauled by other players with more powerful weapons, keep in mind that it doesn’t take long for players alive for a long time to drop down to a dangerously low health, meaning that fair fights between spawners and long-standers are common. That’s what I particularly like about Quake Live – the amount of work done to the game’s balancing issues is so phenomenal, that if you find that you’re sucking, it’s your fault. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Turning over to the Audio, all you’ll really ever hear in the game are menu beeps, character grunts, footsteps and the sweet, sweet sound of gunfire. You won’t hear sounds in real-life quality, as this is a fantasy universe, but the audio files are made up of a good quality anyway. Charming, isn’t it? But, what would you expect? Halo doesn’t have a soundtrack ringing through during multiplayer fights. Neither does Call of Duty. In pure fact, most FPS games don’t have a multiplayer soundtrack, as they put players off when that critical winning snipe is needed. There’s only one FPS game I know with a multiplayer soundtrack, and that’s Metroid Prime 2. Case, closed.

Earlier on in the article, I’ve mentioned countless times that although the game can be a blast when played as-is (in other words, at no cost), there are subscription services available if you feel like having more bang for your buck. For a price equivalent to dirt, having a subscription enables a world of content that you weren’t able to experience before with the FPS, like joining clans and creating your own personal matches. The idea of extra content may appeal to now-sold fans of LIVE (like myself – I had a match five minutes ago during the time that I SHOULD have been writing this review, tut tut), but if you’ve got a free account already and like things how they
are, or don’t like the game at all, then you may want to give the subscription idea a complete rest. If you like the game and are tempted to switch over, you may want to have a good old pervert at this page.

A few other things you may want to know about the game:

  • Don’t try to play the game with a gamepad and Xpadder, Bad things happen.
  • The game, just so you know, is censored of any blood, so it’s fine to let 12-year-old Jim over there make an account. The ESRB agrees, with a T rating for the game.
  • By ‘Dirt Cheap Subscription prices’, I mean either £1.59 a month for premium, and £3.18 a month for pro. See what I did there?
  • Customization is here, and it means choosing your own character AND game controls. Bingo.

That Final Verdict
Quake Live is a technologically revolutionary FPS that dares to do things differently. The game’s physics may baffle some, but most will quickly ease in to them, and have a real blast while fragging to hell and back. The controls, likewise, are extremely comfortable for the generic PC gamer. The format is universally accepted, there’s a huge amount of boom for ‘nout, and overall, it’s going to guarantee good times.

TRY*

*Due to how the game is free, I’ll have to replace ‘Buy’ with ‘Try’, as there’s no reason not to for a free internet game.

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