ID Software

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On the 25th of February 1996, ID Software released a test version of Quake. The file was made available by ID Software through the Internet and as stated by the company, it is not an alpha version nor a beta version, it is only a test version! The version only allows deathmatch with your friends, or single user exploring with no monsters on three levels. For those of you who might wonder what "Quake" is about, "Quake" is the follow-up to the legendary "Doom", supporting a complete 3D environment with 3D objects.

"Quake" was scheduled for Christmas 95 but ID Software estimated that the game was not ready yet. So until next June which is the scheduled release date today, here are some glimpses of what "Quake" looks like.

At first sight, "Quake" looks good although I'm not sure if it was what I really expected. Maybe it was all the hype, but I was expecting something allying the graphics of "The Seventh Guest" with the gameplay of "Doom". Instead, "Quake" is basically a game using an improved "Doom" engine with a proportionally correct look up and look down.

However, the big changes are when you see your opponent, a beautifully and perfectly rendered 3D object. A muscle bound "big" male character with nice textures, including a face.

ID developers have used some nice "tricks" to keep the frame rate high. The character only moves his legs in a very fluid realistic style, holding a very large gun. It is unknown if in the final version, you will be able to see your opponents weapons, but in this version you can't.

Holding a weapon however, is represented from your field of view as a 3D object which means that you can actually watch it auto-aim at your opponent. It is excellent to see your double-barrel shotgun follow your enemy running across the screen, whilst you fill him full of lead!!

There are some very minor drawbacks to the 3D objects for weapons. Those that enjoyed watching the Space Marine reload in "Doom", won't see that anymore. We will perhaps see a polygon arm come up and load in the commercial release, but I think ID Software would wait for customers to make an outcry for it, rather than waste valuable processor resources.

Regarding weapons, the test version features six of them:

Super Shotgun (Double barrel)
Nail gun (shoots Nine inch nails)
Super nail gun (shoots two nails at a time)
Grenade Launcher
Rocket Launcher.

The weapons are of exceptional note, and worth describing individually.

Shotgun: Weapon number 2 in "Doom". This is now your stock standard weapon in "Quake". It fires well, and as per "Doom", you can see your shot exploding on the wall.

Super Shotgun: Basically, a double barrelled Shotgun that does twice the damage of a shotgun. However, the difference with "Doom" is that when you fire it, there is a nice gap between the shot coming out of each barrel which obviously increases the realism!

Nail Gun: Considered by one of my fellow `Quakers' to be his favorite weapon, it fires nails very quickly. It is really like the chain gun in "Doom" but this time with nails. It is worth considering the fact that each nail is a polygon. You can see a barrage of them coming towards you, and when ducking and weaving you can watch each nail sail past you.

Super Nail gun: The same as the Nail Gun, but shoots two nails per shot. An amusing factor in Quake, at least in this test version, is that the gun uses "Nine inch nails" picked up from a box that has the letters N, I and a reversed N. Trent Reznor fans will immediately realize the significance of this. For the others, Trent Reznor was originally supposed to be doing the sound effects for "Quake". He is the lead singer for a group called "Nine Inch Nails" boasting the same symbol. We found firing Nine inch Nails at each other, very amusing!

Grenade Launcher: The piece de resistance and the hope of things to still come in Quake. Now that you're in a full 3D world, it is oodles of fun to use such a beautiful piece of hardware. The grenade is ejected from the launcher on a twenty degrees angle, and then bounces around. When it settles, you will hear and see the explosion (* BOOM *). What will it change having weapons in a 3D environment? The great change is that you can fire "around corners". With the grenade launcher, if you know that your opponent is just around the corner, you can fire at a wall, and watch the grenade bouncing around until it lands at his feet to suddenly explode! The grenades are an absolute delight as you can fire them everywhere and watch them coming, bouncing and clanging their way towards you.

Rocket Launcher: It just wouldn't be an ID Software product without a Rocket Launcher, would it?? Quake has the necessary item, and it is quite nice in a 3D environment too. Not as interesting as the Grenade Launcher, the Rocket Launcher fires your stock standard rocket. For some nice visual effects, fire your rocket, and strafe left or right. The smoke trail that the rocket leaves behind actually stays relative to you, i.e. move to the left, and the smoke trail takes on a nice angular look. Again, you can strafe away from a rocket and see the smoke go past you.

All the objects are also in 3D. The armor looks great spinning in place, waiting to be collected. It is even proportional and actually looks like it will fit you. The objects that can be picked up are stationary or in crates, but they maintain there structural integrity as you go around them. You will no longer look at an item front all the time!

The sound in this test version is quite basic, but effective. The sounds are crisp and clear, consisting of the weapons firing, a scream when you are killed and the clang of grenades. No thunder, or obviously "monster" noises yet, but we shall see what they will be like when the next version comes out. I'm told that the sounds are actually sampled in mono, but played over the left or right speaker based on the direction they're coming from and graduated in volume based on distance. I was able to hear grenades coming down a hallway, from front on, to the left and right, every time I could distinguish its origin.

There are of course other new features in "Quake", for example, the switches that can set off traps. To activate switches, you just run into them, and you will see them settle back into the wall. The Lava pits can be opened this way. It is extremely funny to look through a hole in the wall, watch your opponent walking onto the closed Pit, and then press the switch to watch the floor slip by as your opponent plunges into the lava!

There is also a "quick sand" pit where you don't die when you fall in it. Instead you move very slowly and if your opponent sees you entering it, he can dump grenades from above that will float down to the bottom such as depth charges.

The game play in "Quake" is similar to the one in "Doom", but there are new things that make it even better. To resume what you can expect in "Quake", I will describe what I experienced in my best deathmatch.

"Running down the corridor, I was armed with my trusty double barrel Shotgun, waiting for my opponent. I slowed to a walk, and cautiously walked into an open area, ready for my opponent to set off a trap that could send me plummeting into the lava but nobody was around. I looked up but found nothing. Suddenly (* CLANG, CLANG, CLANG *) the sound of a grenade bouncing on the floor was resounding in the room. I ran towards the room at the opposite end and heard the grenade detonate behind me. With the explosion, I was thrown forward into a sand-pit, losing 40 points of health. Standing on top of the sand pit, I noticed that I was moving, slowly slipping down the sand. My enemy thinking I was finished, came charging in and launched another grenade! (* SQUISH *). Much to his surprise, the grenade didn't bounce on the sand but it stuck. As he was in mid-run, he ran on top of his own grenade. I turned to see him be lifted up and thrown out of the door of the room by the force of the blast. "Hurrah!" I shouted, but for a moment only. He was still standing, as he had a super armor on! I took aim, running out with the double barrel Shotgun blasting away. Having the advantage, my opponent darted off and a chase ensued. "Run scum, run!", I repeated. He sure did run! He went up onto an elevator and I was left behind, the course had changed again. He was now on a level higher. I turned around, looked up for my opponent and once more was not able to spot him. Then, (* CLANG, CLANG, CLANG *) I quickly turned around and saw the grenade landing at my feet. (* BOOM *)! The force of the explosion blew my head right off. I could see my body left behind, blood spraying from it and all, as my head lay on the ground, my opponent came over to take my belongings. I could see every bit of it, albeit on an angle, as he danced around my head. With vengeance in mind, I hit the space bar for another fight!"

Written by Jere Lawrence

Click here to get the Quake test version.

Click here for screen shots.


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