Title  : Quake
Platforms  : Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Windows
Publisher  : Midway
Game Rating  : 7.7
Review by  : Ken Gagne

An interdimensional terrorist is striking at Earth. His army's recent raid on a military base has left a sole survivor who decides to take it to the monster's own hellish home front. So goes Quake, for Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, translated by Midway from the PC hit. 

Quake, the game's title and the name of the afore-mentioned terrorist, has been on the computing scene for a few years now, and has spread like wildfire as the modern-age DOOM. It is a first-person perspective shooter renowned for its fast action and multiplayer death matches. Its most important characteristics have been lost in this console version, yet it remains a enjoyable experience. 

The default control is awkward, with unnecessary functions assigned to essential buttons. But every button and action is configurable, so Quake can be made to play identically to Goldeneye, Turok, or any other setting, in which case Quake is flawless. The controllers support both the rumble pack, for quaking action, and the memory pack. Controller setups can be saved with the latter, but game progress can be saved with either the pack or a password. 

The nature of the graphics is dark, choppy, and swift. Many of the abysmal levels are without proper lighting, making it difficult to tell if there is, or isn't, a place to stand, or if that's an enemy hiding in the shadows or your eyes deceiving you. The sprites (or moving figures) have few frames of animation, and move in an ungainly fashion. But as players move about, the levels themselves speed by. This makes it easy to make a quick escape but difficult to draw an accurate bead. 

The music is minimal, yet effective. There is not much music, per se, but background moans, whistling winds, and drums emphasize the gothic atmosphere. Hammering nailguns and exploding corpses comprise the sound effects. 

Quake's challenge is classic; it offers many goals but nothing new. Simply, each level has an exit which must be found. This may involve backtracking, exploring, finding keys, or other tasks. Each level also has several hidden areas which are not pertinent to one's progress, but offer valuable power-ups. The total number of secret areas is revealed at each level's end, as well as the time it took the player to complete the level. 

As any good shooter should, Quake offers a two-player mode. Gamers can battle in seven different arenas, of varying size. There are no maps or radars to assist the hunters in finding their prey, and the dark nature of the levels adds to the confusion. Each level consists of many small corridors and rooms, with few large, open spaces in which to run around. Hence, most pursuits end with two players face-to-face pounding each other with grenades, rather than strategic use of sniper and guerrilla warfare tactics and drawn-out epic battles. Whoever has the best armor and weapon will win. 

Quake is yet another entry in a familiar genre. It offers little new, but most of what it has is effective. The flawed graphics is one of its fault; the lack of a four-player mode on a four-player system is another. Quake on Saturn and the IBM may be more satisfying. On the Nintendo 64, Goldeneye and Turok did it better, and this summer's Turok 2 will do it best. Those wanting something to tide them over in between may find it in Quake.


This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 06-Apr-98