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Quake 2 Preview

Publisher - Activision
Developer - Aaron Seeler Productions
Platform - N64
Release Date - December 1998
Type - 3D Shooter

Id Software's Quake, considered to be one of the best-person shooters of all time, was criticized from the start for its lacking single-player game. With Quake II for PC, Id brought home a finely tuned, enhanced 3D engine, a whole new cast of cyborg monstrosities to destroy (and the weapons to do it), and an improved, commendable single-player mode.

Now, Quake II is coming to Nintendo 64 courtesy of Activision. Targeted for a December 98 release date, the game is being headed-up by Aaron Seeler Productions (note: Seeler was the project leader for Midway's Doom 64 and Quake). Activision is still unclear about many elements of the game, including whether or not the Nintendo 64 version will feature exclusive levels, monsters or levels. However, because the game is more or less a port of Quake II, the following features are a given:

Storyline

It goes something like this: "You are a marine..." Go figure, huh? Earth has been invaded by an alien race of cyborgs known as the Strogg. They are only interested in one thing: humans. Why, you ask? Well, they thrive on body parts -- which they combine with their mechanics to form super-deformed cyborgs. Imagine robot dogs with human heads and cyber-monsters with rocket-launchers mounted on their shoulders and you've got the picture. As a marine, you've been deployed through a space-warp hole to the Strogg's home planet. While entering the planet's atmosphere something goes terribly wrong and you crash. Anarchy rages all around you, a war has just broke out between the Strogg and the human race. Welcome to Quake II...

The Purpose

Kill. Kill everything, ruin everything and wreak havoc across the Strogg's homeland. The game plays exactly the same way the original did, with a few additions like the ability to crouch. That said, the single-player mode is much improved upon, with more atmosphere and objectives to complete. For example, in one of the game's earlier levels, players must find all of they keys (as before), and then establish a communications uplink. In a later level, players must rescue their fellow marines from a Strogg prison. As all of this transpires, non-playing computer characters will scream for help, call in locations and so on. The overall effect is excellent.

The Engine

Like Quake before it, Quake II runs in full 3D and players can go virtually anywhere. However, Id Software has thrown in a handful of new additions to keep the sequel fresh, including new colored-lighting effects, transparent water and objects and real-time light-sourcing. Furthermore, the game moves amazingly fast at all times. It will be interesting to see how well Aaron Seeler Productions can translate this to Nintendo 64. It should be noted that neither Doom 64 or Quake (64) featured real-time light-sourcing of weapons.

The Arsenal

There are 11 weapons of mass destruction in Quake II. Each of which has its own, unique way of disposing of an enemy. Below is a brief description of each weapon as described by Id Software:

Blaster Gun
Standard gun. Shoots lasers. Never runs out of ammo. Good for blowing up barrels and taking out weak enemies.

Shotgun
Powerful weapon for close combat. Uses shells for ammunition. Perfect for Strog guards and flyers.

Super Shotgun
Much more powerful than the regular shotgun, but slower. Eats more shells.

Machine Gun
Very effective, spraying bullets everywhere. But its kickback will affect players aim, as the gun tends to drift upwards. Must be mastered.

Chain Gun
Perfect for armies of soldiers. Sprays bullets everywhere, but quickly runs out of ammunition.

Hand Grenade
Self-explanatory. Blows up enemies. The longer a player holds the grenade, the further it can be thrown.

Grenade Launcher
Good for blasting hard-to-reach areas. Not recommended for use in confined areas.

Hyper Blaster
An energy chain gun with no spin up delay. Its high rate of fire is incredibly effective at destroying the enemy and depleting your energy cells.

Rail Gun
Fires depleted uranium slugs at super high velocities. Take note of the distinctive blue corkscrew trail of smoke caused by the projectile.

BFG
Big, uh, freakiní gun. This weapon redefines the word "wallpaper." Simply fire the BFG into a small room of unsuspecting Strogg and observe the new red paint job.

Enemies

Nearly 20 disgusting cyborgs make up Quake 2's grizzly cast of characters. Because the Stroggs conquer races and then combine fleshy body parts of the dead with their mechanical gear, the majority of the characters in the game are gruesome mutations of science. Dog-like bodies with human heads, for example:

The Parasite is a sadistic looking humanoid-dog

Or better yet, robotic, cannon-wielding soldiers with razor-arms:

The gladiator, a charming fellow, wields both a cannon and a razor

Nintendo 64 Quake II

Because the Nintendo 64 version of Quake II is so early on, details regarding the game's enhancements/gameplay have been slim. We do know that Activision is planning to include mutliplayer support for the title. Says Eric Johnson, the company's vice president of marketing: "Yeah, it will definitely be multiplayer. The great thing about Quake II, of course, is it's the ultimate multiplayer game. Going head-to-head against your buddy can now be done in the same room." However, whether it will be two or four-player compatible is still not clear, but considering the fact four-player games have become the Nintendo 64 standard, we don't see how Activision could not go with the trend.

Aaron Seeler Productions is porting the game. Seeler definitely has experience with the Quake franchise, as he ported the original to Nintendo 64 under the Midway label. Judging from Seeler's previous ports, Quake II will likely feature its own ambient sound-effects and pre-colored lighting galore.

Quake II will be shown in some form at this year's E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo) at which time we'll have an update to the preview.