Of course, it would be offered to open a review of Quake Remastered by a witness ode to the old golden times. But hey. In 1996, I was seven, at the old-fashioned 486 in my grandmother’s office, I only met Doom, who was three years older, and did not get to the first Quake many years later, after I had experience with the third, purely multiplayer work. Hand on heart, at that time the enthusiasm could not be the same as when the game first burst onto the screens with the force of a hurricane and changed the world of shooting and games in general.
But I only fully appreciated the importance of Quake a few years ago, after reading David Kushner’s Masters of Doom. The book deals with the rocket rise and painful fall of the original id Software studio and especially with the unusual connection of two legendary Johns, Romero and Carmack, whose friendship Quake essentially ended, or at least interrupted for a while.
What happened happened. What is now?
But what was or was not a quarter of a century ago is more or less the same, nowadays you will care little when playing that the game offered fully 3D rendering and OpenGL support. The important thing is whether you will play well, for example, despite the fact that you do not have nostalgic memories of him and you would just like to add a historical rest.
Quake Remastered is really only a remaster, not a remake at the level of the first Mafia or last year’s Final Fantasy VII. So don’t expect brand new models or interventions in game systems, although the game supports modern resolution, otherwise you will enjoy the classic title in all its old beauty, with angular models and effects, which today you will rather only indulgently smile. But the spell still stands and falls with playability, and it withstood the passage of time to number one.
Even after twenty-five years, the frenetic action of the first Quake is extremely satisfying, although at times, compared to the current production, it is exhausting fun. The throbbing speed, especially in later levels, will not let you stand still for a while, ie if you do not activate the cheat for immortality and you will not become the god of death. And that’s what you want to happen anyway, because the arsenal that the game offers is literally to make love.
Quake has a fantastic shotgun that works over longer distances, and you can also find her two-headed sister, with whom one poem is used to it. A strong part of the arsenal is also the grenade launcher, the successful mastery of which will give you a lot of joy in the scrum, as well as the rocket launcher, enabling the rocket-jumpy typical of the series.
But my greatest love is the nail gun, or its reinforced variant, which spews endless volleys of nine-inch ammunition. In addition, each pick-up of a box of ammunition for this murderous toy is a joy in itself, as it is adorned with the logo of Nine Inch Nails, a Trent Reznor formation that has provided fantastic musical accompaniment.
Unlike the sci-fi setting of the previous Doom, Quake relies on a Gothic atmosphere combined with futuristic motifs. The popular chainsaw was replaced by a massive ax, in addition to mutant creatures, repulsive arachnids and armed Marines, the main character with the simple name Ranger must compete with knights, rottweilers and in the end with creatures that are strongly inspired by HP Lovecraft.
At the same time, don’t expect a particularly elaborate story, which would be as valid as in porn, as one of the founding fathers of id Software once put it. The difference against modern shooters is unreal, no pompous and bombastic moments, cutscenes, emotional moments, slow motion shots or falling skyscrapers. You have the event firmly in your hands at all times, and at the end you will not have celebratory fanfares, but austere text congratulations.
In addition to the basic game, Quake Remastered also includes two original data discs and, as a bonus, two other extensions created by MachineGames developers, current administrators of the Wolfenstein brand. Add to that the presence of multiplayer, whose technical condition has been adjusted to a modern standard, you get a very decent package of content, all the sweeter because the owners of the original version get it completely free and the game also appears in the Xbox Game Pass.
In addition to the PC, I also tested the Quaka on a console from Microsoft (in addition, it is also available on the PS4 and Switch) and unfortunately I was not satisfied with the console control. With regard to the speed and irreconcilability of the enemies, aiming at the mouse is an optimal experience that the gamepad cannot even imitate in this case, moving through the levels lacks grace and rush, and the difference between the two versions is even more acute than in the reboot of the Doom series.
A museum piece
Of course, not everything is bathed in sunshine and joy, it is always necessary to keep in mind that you are receiving a 25-year-old game, the concept of which has not changed at all. So if you appreciate all the things I listed above in today’s shooters, the Quak experience will be extraordinarily austere for you.
Playing Quake means running through levels, shooting and searching for keys and access cards, hidden rooms with bonuses and exit to the next level, dot. In addition to the Doom model, the individual parts of the game are designed primarily as a maze with various switches, hidden passages and other pastries, which have already been forgotten at the time of the linear passages. It should also be said that the quality of level design varies, because the development of the game was definitely not a walk in the rose garden and a number of authors with often very different approaches (and success) participated in the creation of levels.
Nevertheless, I would recommend a trip to the past in the case of Quake Remastered. Probably the strongest argument is the fact that it never occurred to me to invest time in one of the currently popular waves of retro shooters. I don’t want to play variations on Duke Nukem 3D or Heretic, because at the time these games were up to date, we dreamed of how beautiful and technologically advanced their descendants would be, and I’m not interested in going back to the roots in imitations.
But Quake is an authentic, well-functioning and entertaining proof of the timelessness of Romer’s design and Carmack’s technical genius. It’s an essential part of the game’s history, the evolutionary stage of 3D shooting, on the road between Doom and Half-Life, which you shouldn’t miss, even if it means just tasting a few levels.
And by the way, be sure to read Masters of Doom, you will also find out why Quake is called Quake.