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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004


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by Sega / id Soft

Ups: Online multiplayer; mouse-keyboard support; incredible visuals; lots of gore. 

Downs:  Not enough weapons; gets repetitive; only 4 players online.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

qa3c-01.jpg (3342 bytes)It’s the bane of computer gamers everywhere – Quake III Arena. Commonly regarded as the second best first-person shooter out for PCs today, QIIIA is a staple among the online gaming community. Following in the footsteps of id soft’s Wolfenstein and Doom, Quake is heir to a long lineage of gore and violence. This is not a game for the kiddies, and it’s not anywhere close to being a Perfect Dark or Goldeneye. QIIIA is what it is – a fast and furious shooter – and that’s about all.

qu10-01.jpg (3893 bytes)Let’s start with the basics. QIIIA looks better than it ever has before. And by that, I mean it looks better on the DC than it does on any PC. The textures have been improved, and the DC handles the added graphic quality just fine. Lighting, textures, characters, and gore are startlingly beautiful. It’s hard to convey the satisfaction of blowing an opponent to pieces with the rocket launcher and then running through the ruddy mist left behind. If this is the sort of thing you’re into, you’ll love it.

qu18-01.jpg (3755 bytes)The game basics are incredibly simple: kill everyone else as many times as possible. The single player game is almost nonexistant. You can battle your way through different tournaments and deathmatches until you’re top of the heap, battling DC-controlled ‘bots. In the multiplayer mode there is a little more variety. You can play the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, or team capture the flag. Locally, you can play with up to four player in splitscreen mode.

qu19-01.jpg (3289 bytes)The DC version is remarkable not for the graphical improvements (after all, it looks pretty sweet on the PC, too), but for the online multiplayer. DC players can connect to SegaNet and enjoy online fragfests, too, even against PC players (who must download a patch to play against the DC). The online play is incredibly smooth. Being one of the few gaming sites based in Idaho, GF! has no access to SegaNet directly. Still, QIIIA plays just fine through our private ISP. While lag is occasionally noticeable, for the vast majority of the time it is fairly nonexistant. It certainly doesn’t hamper online playability.

qu27-01.jpg (3273 bytes)But what does hamper the online playability are some of the decisions made about how online games can be configured. There are plenty of maps to choose from – the DC version packs dozens, and still more are available online that you may not have unlocked locally yet. There are also tons of skins to choose from – 32 initially, and a lot more left to find. You can get new skins by unlocking them in the single player mode and by fragging an online opponent playing with a skin you don’t have yet. SegaNet is reportedly leaking new skins in online play little by little, so there should be plenty showing up in the near future. The major downfall of online play is the limit of four competitiors. I had hoped that you would be able to play against at least eight opponents online, but sadly that isn’t so. The problem with only four player support is that in team-oriented competitions the teams are often lopsided. If one player drops out, it’s a serious hindrance for the other poor bastard left to guard the flag or go it alone against two opponents.

q35-01.jpg (4421 bytes)The information the game gives you access to is also incomplete. There is no real convenient way to check the team breakdowns when joining a game, so often there are games that have teams of three to one. In addition, the game doesn’t keep track of frags or points beyond the game you’re playing, so forget those dreams of ranking in online QIIIA stats. The other big complaint I have to lodge against the online multiplayer in QIIIA is the fact that you can only have one player go online at a time. Games like ChuChu Rocket allow up to four players to go online at a time, and it seems only right that QIIIA should allow at least two players to get online. The experience of working with a pal to shove as much hot lead down the throats of the opposing team is just deflated when you have to be at two separate locations, with two copies of the game, and two separate connections to the Internet.

q33-01.jpg (4721 bytes)These complaints may not seem like a big deal, but when compared to other console-based FPS titles, QIIIA just falls flat. The same problem is encountered by Unreal Tournament, last year’s PC game of the year and current leader among fragfest-type titles for PC. On consoles we’re used to games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye. Perfect Dark is a far superior game. It not only includes a highly involving and playable single player mode, but the multiplayer is much better than QIIIA, even though you can’t play it online. First, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to turn on more ‘bots in local multiplayer. Even the N64 can handle four live players and four CPU players with no noticeable slowdown.

q32-01.jpg (4054 bytes)In addition, QIIIA has a paltry arsenal of weapons. Sure, they’re really cool-looking and do a lot of damage, but there just aren’t enough to make for any real variety. The weapons of QIIIA are: Gauntlet, Machine Gun, Shotgun, Plasma Gun, Grenade Launcher, Rocket Launcher, Lightning Gun, Rail Gun, and BFG-10K. That’s it, nine weapons. And they don’t have secondary functions or anything. Again, QIIIA just pales in comparison to Perfect Dark, which has dozens of weapons, almost all of which have at least two major functions.

q31-01.jpg (4796 bytes)Yes, you can get a mouse now for your DC, and, yes, that does allow for the old mouse-keyboard setup for control. That said, it really isn’t necessary. A keyboard is nice for a little smack-talking online, but absolutely unneeded for real play. I found myself going back to the old, excuse the proliferation of references to this game, Perfect Dark setup. For those of you unfamiliar with Perfect Dark, try controller setup three, then tweak it to your liking. This is another game that makes me wish the DC had dual triggers on each side, but the controls are not bad. You can also access the control configuration from any point in the game, allowing you to do a lot of fine tuning on the fly.

While Quake III Arena is a big deal on the PC, it shouldn’t be so big on the console. It can only be a matter of time (we hope) before somebody rips off Perfect Dark and PD clones are available for every system. That would be the humane thing for developers and publishers to do. As it is, Quake III Arena is the best we have so far. Don’t get me wrong – this is still a fun game. It’s just sad when I think of how much fun it could have been. I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why QIIIA was such a big success on the PC and why it’s so underwhelming on the DC. Maybe it’s the fact that we can’t customize maps, make our own skins, or invoke any number of mods that turn QIIIA into almost entirely different games. Whatever the reason, don’t get your hopes up too much. But do go try it out. Online play is the future of gaming; it’s just a hard road to get down.

--Shawn Rider