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If there's one thing that PC gamers still hold over the owner of a Playstation console it must surely be the availability of a wide range of quality first person shooters. There can be no greater rush of adrenaline than that experienced when utilizing your reflexes to constantly duck and dodge a huge barrage of enemy gunfire in open areas, tight corridors and narrow shafts.
Having played all of the PSX titles from this genre I dare only to name Doom (I, II & Final) Powerslave (Exhumed), Duke Nukem 3D and Disruptor (only just) as acceptable recommendations. Meanwhile conversions of PC sprite classics such as Dark Forces and Hexen sadly lie in the 32-bit gutter alongside other polygon failures, namely Lifeforce Tenka and Tunnel B1.
For almost three years we have been served the 'on/off' whispers and rumors that "Quake's coming!", "No it's not!", "Quake II's coming!", "No it's not!" This game has been through more developers hands than the Lara Croft Nude cheat code. Many had tried. All failed.
Finally we heard that Activision acquired the licence and UK based Hammerhead Studios had suitably impressed iD Software with a single level port of this stunning shooter. Quake II on Playstation was GO!
The future of humanity is at stake as earth launches its final assault against alien aggressors.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to infiltrate the alien planet and fight your way through heavily fortified military installations....
This is a first person perspective shoot-em-up in the mould of frenetic titles such as Wolfenstein 3-D, DOOM, DOOM II, and QUAKE.
Sound and Vision:
Let's get this straight... it's not that no one wanted to port the PC version of Quake II onto the Playstation, it was more a case of nobody seemed capable of doing the original game justice. I mean... what is the point of cramming the entire game onto a single CD and then suffering crude low resolution pixilation of characters (as in Dark Forces), horrendous slowdown (ditto Hexen) and blocky scenery (ditto both).
Activision were confident in Hammerhead's capability and had promised all the benefits of the PC version plus entirely new levels and redesigned existing ones. They had talked about fluid particle effects, mobile lighting and mind-blowing explosions. So, would this iD-directed masterpiece make all other games obsolete?
Reviewing Quake II turned out to be a rollercoaster affair, therefore in answer to the above question I must answer... No! Yes! No! Yes! No! Yes! No!
On loading up the game my palms began sweating profusely and my trigger finger quivered slightly as it hovered over the fire button. I refused to be disheartened as the brief, grainy intro showed signs of being thrown together under the instruction to "waste as little CD space and memory as possible on the opening movie".
As eager I was to get the game underway I restrained myself from savoring the action for a few more moments and patiently waited as the game switched into 'Demo Mode'. WOW...! High resolution scenery! Superb lighting effects! Incredible 3D modelled enemies! Astounding frame rate! Realistic explosions! All backed by a thunderous heavy rock soundtrack that echoed my heartbeat. This was too good to be true. Had I been lazy I could have easy reviewed Quake II after watching the demo and scored it 110/100...
...But I didn't..!
I glanced around after taking control of the game character for the first time as he clambered from the wreckage of his downed craft. Suddenly I felt a little flat as if a dark cloud had passed over. Through the canyon the scenery appeared lackluster... dull... drab... it certainly lacked the high resolution graphics, rich textures and stunning lighting effects promised in the 'Demo Mode' (which, incidentally, is the part of the disc that runs constantly in the game store to promote it). The wavering hand that held my solitary 'toy' Blaster Pistol didn't seem macho enough and reminded me more of a pig's trotter than a mercenaries limb (which I found a little off-putting considering the huge task I was about to employ). Let's just say that all this failed to ignite the spark experienced when first loading up the Exhumed/Powerslave game.
Moving onward I passed through my first of many triangular doorways from a narrow corridor into an open area and was instantly alerted by the call from the enemy guard who had spotted me. The AI was brilliant, especially when the uniformed soldier began weaving from side to side in my general direction, making him a bitch to target. Each shot fired produces an amazing responsive action. A trail of fire follows the route of the bullet from barrel to target and explodes on impact. First the enemy drops to the floor. Then heaves himself back up again, only to take another bullet in the leg which he grasps as if in agony. The power of the final projectile sees him recoil onto his back... where he remains motionless... before suddenly sitting back up again and firing off a final couple of rounds to scare the crap out of you. It's not unlike a gunfight scene from an old Western movie where the 'baddie' loses the draw but still resurrects for enough time to empty his barrel into the sheriff. These 'dead bodies' remain on screen unless the player decides to waste a few precious bullets to blast it into a mass of blood and guts (leaving a rather ugly bloodied torso). Excellent.
Moving further into the game the enemies get bigger, meaner and badder. Before too long you will be quivering behind doorways attempting to snipe at a room full of buxom rocket firing wenches, enormous machine gun wielding cyborgs, deadly half man/ half spider beasties and gigantic nuke hurling robots.
Hanging around these creatures for more than a few seconds can be deadly... UNLESS... you can trap them in the scenery. Unfortunately by maneuvering any of them into an alcove, or beside a doorway, or behind a staircase, their polygon framework becomes snagged leaving them 'sitting ducks' and can be picked off at ease. Shame!
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