Review: Quake (16-Bit DOS)

In this review, we check out another First Person Shooter. This time, we are giving the original Quake game a spin to see if it’s still worth playing.

This particular game was released in 1996 and would be the beginning of an entire series of games.

In a nutshell, you are a lone soldier tasked to collect the four runes. With the runes collected, you use theeir power to enter the world of Shub-Niggurath, foiling it’s plan by killing it before it wipes out all life on earth.

The game is divided into three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. From there, the game is further subdivided into four episodes – each of them representing a rune you must collect. At the beginning of each episode, you find yourself in a futuristic base setting. However, it doesn’t take long before you find yourself in Gothic castles and swamps as you fight against mammoths, spawns, zombies, and sword wielding foes.

Aiding you are a small variety of weapons ranging from the shotgun to the nail gun to the thunderbolt. Should you run out of ammo, you can simply rely on your ax as a last desperate attempt to stay alive. You can also collect boxes of health that can award yo 25 points of health for a maximum 100 health. Another interesting item is the various armor pickups. Some of them are just shards that award you 2 points of armor while others can increase your armor to 25, 50, 100, 150, and 200.

You can also collect key cards to unlock doors – or simply keys in many of the levels anyway. Also aiding you are various special items such as the Quad damage (which multiplies your damage by four times allowing you to dispatch tougher foes more quickly). Other items include the pentagram of protection and the +100 health that can temporarily increase by 100 past the 100 point cap. After a moment, your health will dwindle by 1 point per about a second until you go back down to your original 100 point cap. Another fun item you can collect is the ring of shadows which can turn you invisible for a limited amount of time. This allows you to surprise your foes and kill them often before they get off a single shot themselves.

Also along the way are a number of puzzles you have to complete to move on. Some of them are as simple as hitting a switch to open a door while others entail raising a bridge or hitting a set of switches to compete a “sequence” before something unlocks. You can also encounter a number of warps that take you from one part of the maze to another.

One thing that really makes things interesting are the secrets you can encounter. Finding a secret can enable you to have access to a number of very helpful items.

At the end of each level, you are shown a tally of how long it took you to complete a level and the number of kills you’ve made and the number of secrets you’ve encountered out of the maximum total available. While this doesn’t really do much besides give you an idea of how well you did, it does help in that you could always replay a given level to find a secret you missed the first time.

One criticism I do have of this game is that movement of your character is quite coarse. You can run and avoid a lot of shots by running everywhere, but at the same time, it can be difficult to navigate over thin ledges. Since it is a pain to turn “always run” on and off all the time, I ended up just leaving it on and nudging the controls wherever I needed to. It was more beneficial to just run all the time.

At the end of each episode, you are treated to some text that advances the plot. After you go back to the main “lobby” area, the path to the completed episode is locked off. Additionally, everything you’ve accumulated up to that point is lost, reducing you to just your ax and shotgun. I don’t know why this is the case, but I thought that kind of reduced the playability of this game a bit.

Graphically, this game was actually nothing too special. Considering games like Super Mario 64, Blast Corps, and Duke Nukem 3D were released in the same year, this game left a fair bit to be desired. Some of the movements of the enemies were extremely jerky, though I can respect the fact that just about everything was 3D instead of relying on 2D sprites. Another thing that annoyed me was the fact that there were a lot of places that were simply too dark. The game being too dark is apparently a common complaint about this game and mods have since been released to brighten things up. So, it was interesting that there was an attempt to make everything 3D, but a lot was sacrificed to make that a reality and this game ended up being no further ahead of other games that simply used 2D sprites a lot.

In the audio department, I actually couldn’t get the music to run, so I had to do without. The sound effects were actually pretty impressive. In fact, a lot of the ambient sounds did fill in the gaps where music no doubt should have been.

Overall, this game was an interesting one to play. On the surface, it may seem to be an impressive game, but when you realize what other games were released in the same year, it really took away what was impressive in this game. I liked the challenging puzzles and the gameplay was decent enough. The graphics, however, were nothing to be impressed by outside of the fact that there was a real effort to move away from 2D sprites. The movements were very jerky and coarse and i couldn’t get the music to play. If you can loo past the graphics, this was, however, a fun game to play.


Furthest point in game: Beat the game on easy and made it to the third level on episode 1 on hard before getting destroyed.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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