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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

 
  Quake III Arena
Preamble...

Expectations were somewhat mixed after idsoftware released the Q3 demo and people tired of the limited offering. Nice map, new textures, player models, look and feel. With the amount of support given Q2, players have certainly expected great things from the next version and I don't think they are to be disappointed. This is really a next generation Quake.

Companyline...

No One is Safe.
Hardwired action is yours for the taking in single-player and multiplayer battles. Your opponents are now personalized for your brutalizing pleasure. These warriors may not be living and breathing, but they'll make sure you aren't either. Feed on raw action, build your fragging muscles, and then rack up live Deathmatch kills on the Internet or LAN.

MONSTERS IN THE MACHINE
A seething hive of computer-spawned opponents will leave you longing for a scrap of human sympathy. Each has its own special way of hunting you down and bringing you to your knees.

NEVERENDING SLAUGHTER
Encounter a world of hurt in arenas rife with deathtraps, hazards and ruthless foes who play with your already twitching mind. Just when you think you're good...you're dead.

ENTER THE VORTEX
Unbridled fear goes state-of-the-art with smothering fog, flickering shadows and retina-searing weapons effects that will push your graphic accelerator to the limit.

DEATH COMES QUICKLY
Experience relentless multiplayer deathmatches over the Internet with bristling response times and controls.

The Game...

Getting started with Q3 means some tweaking of the controls to get it where you like. I found that I had to upgrade my 3d drivers and the readme with Open GL (GL Setup) got me straightened out very quickly. If you played earlier versions, which is very likely, you will get right into the swing of things. New people will not find a steep learning curve here at all though. The menu system is split into Singleplayer, Multiplayer, Setup, Demo, Cinematics and Exit. You can tweak the FX to quite a degree in Setup, pick various skins for a different look, and make colored nicknames (though this is usually done in the .cfg files-go to the bottom links to learn more).

The Singleplayer game is based on Tiers that get succeedingly harder. Each Tier has levels that you must win against bots that entail different strategies. Different weapons exist on each one as well as armor, health and powerups. The "Skirmish" option allows you to play the various games on each level while you configure bots, difficulty, frag, time and capture limits. This will be very popular when you want a pickup game without going Multiplayer.

What is done very well is the balance that each map has. Paths make very good sense and though you can fall into the abyss or lava, it's not as bad as many Q2 maps. Portals and pads increase the movement and it is really a sight to watch 7-8 players on Bouncy Map in midair with various colored rail shots and rockets flying about. There were a few entrance/exit points that I got hung up on when on the move but this is rare. The maps contain many elements that make Q3 so incredible. There are the death dealing elements like the Fog of Death, Lava, Voids and Slime to fall into. Some you can get out of but others .......... consign your soul. The maps feel very fluid overall.

There are 32 Bots in all to play in Singleplayer mode. Their skills are individual though the difficulty that you set affects them as well. Some bots are hunters, some will camp and others are very cautious. It's almost as if they have personalities with their varied characteristics. They also chat and taunt each other and you. Xaero, the best one, is philosophical while Biker will do his best to piss you off. There is a taunt you can bind to a key that is verbal as well for each class of bot. If you so chose, you can select the Spectator mode and follow these bots and see how they operate as well as what they sound like. The basic idea here is to improve your skills playing bots before you go to face 'real' opponents either on the Net or by LAN.

There are 9 weapons available that should keep us all happy. The game gives you a "Machinegun" in hand at the beginning. Though not that powerful by any stretch, a good bead and some hot moves, you can make ends meet. The "Rocket Launcher" is still here though the rockets seem slower. But get hit and you will find out what flying through the air is really all about. The "Railgun" is also here with colored streams of light that will literally blast a hole through any part of you. The "Grenade Launcher" spits out the standard fare that will shred anyone close by. A favorite of campers but wicked in the right hands regardless. Back from Quake 1 is the "Lightening Gun". It's thunderous crackle means get out of the way or you will find a hole burned through you. The "Plasma Gun" is one of my faves after the Rocket Launcher. Its pulses can chew through any armor in seconds and has splash damage as well. The "Gauntlets" are the poor man's toy. They are only good in close combat but if you manage to get a frag, Humiliation is announced and you get a medal! The "Shotgun" is &*!@! powerful at close range but the effectiveness drops as you target gets farther away. And the old classic from Doom and Q2-the "BFG10K". But it now pulses green blasts that work like a box full of rockets dropped on your head. They are rare on maps but when they are available, it's always a big scrap to get it. Otherwise steer clear. =)

The powerups are back as well but not all are recognizable. "Haste" and "Quad Damage" were around in earlier Quakes in one version or another. The "Invisibility" is a very sneaky one that can make a map go crazy, depending if you or him has it. "Regeneration" brings your health up to 200 points which seems to be a constant issue in this game. "Megahealth" gives you instant 100 points health. "Flight" will allow you to...........fly! "Teleporter" will transport you to a random spot when you use that item, "Medic Kit" will instantly pump your health up to 100 max. on use when you need it.

So your laying waste to the maps and pumping up your frag count. So what kind of recognition do you want? How about a medal! There are six medals available that can boost your morale. "Excellent" is awarded if you get 2 frags in 2 seconds. "Impressive" is similar for railshots. "Frags" is awarded every 100 frags though this is not likely on a Net Server. "Accuracy" is for when your percentage of hits to shot is greater than 50%. "Gauntlet" is received when you humiliate someone by fragging with gauntlets. And "Perfect" comes from winning an arena without being fragged yourself. This little feature is sure to catch people’s attention.

There are four different styles of games built into Q3. "Free for All" is your standard Death Match. If it moves, you’re going to do your best to kill it. "Team Death Match" is something I am going to watch carefully. Depending on if friendly fire is turned on and skills, of course, a team of players can literally own a server by tactics. You join a team and then go about and frag everyone else. "Tournament" is a one-on-one battle while other contenders are spectators awaiting the outcome. And then there is the other classic-"Capture the Flag" Join a team and grab the other teams flag while protecting yours. This one is very popular.

So what has been repeatedly said about Q3, it is a Multiplayer Game. Its intention is to be played against other people on servers usually accessed via Internet. This, I can report is does very well. As many people still have standard modem connections while others have Cable, ASDL, and ISDN among others, there are the high and low ping issues. Though I haven't seen it implemented, the are server-side commands to deal with this.

Lag seems to be a dropped packet issue where you seem to bounce back and forth on a map when it's bad to a slightly quirky screen when it's light. I have played with some pretty bad lag and generally go to spectator until it settles down or reconnect.

Some servers are set up so that when the player count drops low, a bot joins to keep the action lively. Some servers run rotating maps and others keep the same map on all day. Voting may change this but I haven't worked that one out yet.

In the Long Run...

Q3 was really an eye-popper for me. I have played FPS games since Wolfenstein 3D and the jaw drop factor has worked here as well as it did with Q1. I still play Q2 Weapons Factory and Lithium when I can but I can see now how Q3 is going to rule. The hardware requirements are somewhat dear for a lot of players but we all eventually upgrade and I can see Q3 building only more with mods and use in upcoming games, as it did with Q2 for Sin and Halflife. UnReal Tournament is the real competition here, especially with Teamplay gaming. There are some bug issues but idsoftware is plenty aware of them and is working on resolving them for early 2000. Plainly put, if you ever played Quake and want to play the best FPS game available, Q3 is your puppy. It will only get better and it's a win-win move to buy it. But get a fast connection to the Net and a "real hunka burning computer" on your desk- you won't regret it.

Review ID Number: 212
  Product Details
ID Software
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Nick Sardy
Rating: 9 out of 10
 
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