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Quake II – PC

Quake II – PC

Platform: PC

Developer: id Software

Publisher: Activision

Release Date: December 9, 1997

Genre: First-Person Shooter

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

You awaken, sore and groggy, nestled into the confined and coffin-like space inside your drop pod. On your video display, the admiral of the fleet gives a spirited briefing of the assault you and your fellow marines have been ready to execute since you left a devastated Earth behind. As the gentleman finishes his speech, you hear the rhythmic opening of individual bay doors opening to the exterior of space. It is time.

It was like that when I got here

With an explosive push, you are ejected from the safety of the Phobos and launched at terminal speeds towards the barren world of Stroggos. Suddenly, your pod banks left with a jolt; another marine clipped the side of your now unresponsive pod! As you sail helplessly into the atmosphere, crackling radio chatter fills your ears of entire platoons of marines being slaughtered as they hit the ground pours in through your speakers. It soon appears the alien Strogg anticipated the offensive and turned the entire landing zone into a trap. For a brief moment you ponder your fortune, but soon reconsider as you crash into an outpost miles away from your comrades. The explosive bolts on the door of your pod ignite and you emerge alone, pissed off, and ready for revenge.

Quake II is a game released from the fledgling era of 3D graphics and first person shooters and created by much of the original id Software team, like John Carmack and American Mcgee who worked on Doom and Doom II. While it may be a sequel to the original Quake, the two stories and games are largely unrelated in theme and setting, despite some of the symbols and items showing up in both games.

Brings new meaning to “built like a tank”

The story is set in a distant star system where you take the role of Bitterman, a marine from the Terran Coalition of Earth, who are counter-attacking after nearly experiencing the extinction of humanity from the Strogg. The Strogg are a warrior race of aliens who capture other species and perform cybernetic surgeries and experiments, transforming the victim population into twisted pawns. The enemies you fight on the ground are your captured comrades, friends, and neighbors who have been transformed into mobile weapons platforms and harvested for their limbs and organs.

You begin with a crash landing following a failed orbital insertion into the city of Cerberon, leaving you stranded and separated from any survivors. Using only your combat prowess, and plenty of heavy weaponry, You make your way through the city, sabotaging their factories and infrastructure along the way which culminates in a final mission to assassinate the Strogg leadership.

Strogg Medical Facilities

I may be a little biased in writing this review, because this was my go to game growing up as a kid. I spent many weekend nights in the dark re-watching the intro and feeling that rush of adrenaline when starting a new game and stepping into the military industrial complex that is Quake II. Aside from the intro cutscene, the minimal story is told by your datapad, radio chatter from command, and the almighty paperback manual.

Strogg are professionals at making friends.

Quake II’s  gameplay still holds up well in today’s era of health regeneration and easy check points. It does what first-person shooters do best, shoot big guns in first person. Like its predecessor, you have a wide array of weaponry to choose, from a simple recharging blaster, to rocket launchers, to every Doom fans favorite slightly over-sized pea shooter, the BFG 10K. Enemies are varied enough to keep things interesting, although there are very few situations where you really need to use tactics other than run and gun around the area before the Strogg can get a bead on your character. As is the case for most early shooters, hit location doesn’t really come into play either and a direct hit on the arm does as much as a slug in the face, which diminishes the need for skill.

The designs of the levels are fantastic, with my personal favorite involving exploring the Strogg warrior factory where you shut down the horrid assembly line bit by bit. I am a man who loves his fictional science and here you can see the level of creativity and thought that the development team wanted to express. That being said, Stroggos is not a pretty planet. Its surface is a dry desert covered in factories, warehouses, weapons facilities, and industrial landscapes. Some players may find the endless hallways and the poisoned, steel jungle somewhat repetitive.

It may be difficult for some to see where they got the name “The Big Gun”

The graphics are relatively solid and clean for the era, though that doesn’t keep much of the environment from being overly angular or blocky. It definitely shows its age when the smoke from your weapon and blood from the enemies presents itself in a dazzling spectacle of red and gray squares. Like Doom, The sky background is a single static image which shows the orange-black skyline of Cerberon, as well as the imposing image of “The Big Gun”, the massive superstructure defense turret in the center of the city. Though the image may be still, as you progress through the different units and levels the background changes to your location giving you a sense of presence as to where you were opposed to Doom, which largely kept the same general background across the relevant environments

Big doors and big guns

Not many games over 20 years old can keep their replayablility, yet Quake II always has me coming back. Its a simple game and doesn’t ask for much, just to kindly shoot cyborgs in the face, and I am happy to oblige. The old school id Software did an excellent job, one that warrants a 9 out of 10 score. This classic is well worth the five dollars its currently going for on Steam, so do yourself a favor and climb into your pod, buckle in, and get ready to drop into hell.




Written by bushtika

Thousands of years ago in the future, one man rose up to spread the true word of science fiction and 90’s video games and his name was bushtika.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, bushtika currently lives in NC with a bunch of marines. He manages his own business back home and writes books and draws while listening to electronic music and pop punk.


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One Comment

  1. Welcome to the fold, bushtika! You’ve really nailed these first couple of reviews. Keep it up, man!


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