Title  : Quake II
Platforms  : Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Windows
Publisher  : Activision
Game Rating  : 7.9
Review by  : Ken Gagne

"The Strogg, a formidable cybernetic race, is determined to conquer Earth's population and…" blah blah blah. This is Quake II on the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation; the story doesn't matter. Activision delivers the console translation of the first-person perspective shooter that's raged the computer scene for years. 

As a Space Marine, you'll destroy many strange and powerful monsters on the planet Stroggos. The usual arsenal is present: nail guns, shotguns, armor, med kits, BFGs. Try to get the most kills and find the most secrets as possible on each level while executing your orders and finding the exit to the next hellhole. Action is felt with the Rumble Pak, and progress is saved with the Controller Pak or by password. 

The graphics have improved since Quake's last N64 incarnation, thanks to the Memory Expansion Pak. The levels scroll smoothly, the best I've seen since Forsaken on the PlayStation, with cool lighting effects and textures. (Without the expansion pak, the graphics are merely average.) Enemy animation has changed little, with few frames and jerky movement. The weapons our hero can equip are too large; they don't obstruct gameplay, but do unnecessarily call attention to themselves. 

Thinking back, I hardly noticed the game's music. There are background sounds — moans, wind, etc. — but nothing that goes out of its way to create a heart-pumping environment and excite the player. Grenades clank and monsters roar — the usual stuff. 

The default control scheme is identical with the increasingly-popular Turok setup. The analog stick controls perspective, and movement is assigned to the C-buttons, but everything is fully configurable. The horizontal and vertical sensitivity can be finely adjusted, as can the movement speed (walk or run). Add an optional cross hair and it's easy to set just the right speed for running and gunning. 

Unlike the first Quake 64, Quake II supports four-player competitions. Not only are the usual death matches and team matches available, but "Deathtag" emulates Goldeneye's excellent "Capture the Flag", while a true Capture the Flag mode, "Flagwars", is perfect for team play. The stages are brighter and better designed this time around. 

Quake II has many features its predecessor lacked: smooth graphics, great four-player modes (heck, any four-player modes), smarter control, and more options. It lacks the finesse of Goldeneye and the variety and animation of Turok, and is a bit old by the standards of computer gamers who are already enjoying Quake III. Still, it looks to be one of the best N64 shooters this year. 

Quake II is also scheduled for an August release on PlayStation, with a reportedly superior multiplayer mode.


This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 12-Jul-99