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2009/12/02

Apocalypse Then: Quake III Arena

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10 Years of Quake III Arena

On this day, 2 December, 1999, Quake III Arena was released for Microsoft Windows on the PC. Developed by id Software and published originally by Activision, Quake III rose to become one of the biggest multiplayer FPS games of all time, alongside its competitor, Unreal Tournament and its sequels. It was later released on multiple other platforms, like Linux, IRIX, Mac OS, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, as well as Xbox Live Arcade and Steam.

The game is still alive and well today, and was once a favourite competitive play mainstay.

Unlike previous Quake games, and more like UT, this game’s singleplayer only really had one purpose: To introduce you to the gameplay, familiarize you with the maps, and to prepare you for the multiplayer, as you battled against bots. Bots can be scaled on five different levels of difficulty, and in the SP campaign you go through 7 tiers or levels, each with four maps except the last one where you face off against Xaero, the top bot.

There is a basic story behind the game, and that is that gods known as the Vadrigar had assembled all the greatest warriors in the universe to compete for their entertainment. There was a little continuity from previous titles with characters and weapons from previous games making an appearance. Notable characters included Doomguy (Doom series), Ranger (Quake), Bitterman (Quake II) and Grunt (multiplayer skin and NPC from Quake II). The only games in id’s back catalogue that seemed to get left out were the Commander Keen series, and Wolfenstein 3D.

The only real new weapon was the gauntlet which one could use for humiliation kills. Apart from that, most of the weapons made a return from Quake and Doom games before it, although most had some new design and functionality, like the BFG. Powerups like Quad damage along with its traditional sound effects from previous Quake titles also made an appearance.

There were several different modes of play like deathmatch, team deathmatch, tournament, and CTF, a few modes less than UT.

Quake 3 also introduced the id Tech 3 engine (otherwise known as the Quake 3 engine), which has been used by many other games, including some of those developed by studios who have worked on id games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Other notable games that used the engine are Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and Call of Duty. All of these were FPS titles set in WW II. RTCW was the least different from Quake 3. It still had a very Q3 feel to it. Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix also used the engine.

Quake 3 featured music from Sonic Mayhem, a one-man team who also worked on Quake II’s soundtrack, . Front Line Assembly also featured on the soundtrack. Unlike Quake II, I found that the music in Q3 was less loud foreground, and more background, sometimes even more atmospheric type stuff.

I remember getting Quake 3 back in 2000, and my friends and I would usually just play against bots or LAN against each other occasionally. I haven’t played the game in a while now seeing as years ago it was such an effort to install all the map packs and point release patches, and usually after all that I didn’t even feel like playing. I also didn’t like the fact that there is no real singleplayer campaign like other games. Some friends of mine preferred Quake or Quake II to Quake III seeing as it was too colourful, although the game was meant to be a bridge between the two games in other areas like weapon balance and player speed.

And of course there was the argument over which game was better: Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament.

Quake III Arena received an expansion pack in Team Arena, and the two of these were eventually bundled together in the Quake III: Gold pack. The source code to the game was released a few years ago, and since then the free OpenArena was released. Also numerous mods and TCs have been made for the game, and even a few movies made with it. I remember seeing one years ago, I think called Escape from the Bastille.

Quake 4 came out in 2005, and was more in line with Quake II as far as storyline, but never succeeded Quake III Arena in popularity, especially in multiplayer.

Quake Zero which became known as Quake Live is essentially an updated version of Quake III Arena, and is free to download and browser-based. Recently, IS (Internet Solutions) launched a local server for South African Quake Live players, who felt that there was too much lag playing internationally.

You can pick up Quake III Arena here if you want to play a classic

Quake III Arena at Amazon


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