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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Classic PQ | Quake2Test:First Impressions
    Quake2Test:First Impressions

By Various

The Quake2Test was too big to be reviewed by just one person, so we collected some mini-reviews from a few members of the PQStaff.

Quake2Test: First Impressions

Jason "Loonyboi" Bergman, Lead Staff Writer

My first reaction to the Quake 2 demo, was "garsh, lookit all them purdy colors". Once the initial shock of how pretty everything was wore off, I started to dissect the Q2Test. The models are stunning. Beautifully animated, with incredible textures. The weapons didn't really do much for me, although I could already see a definite commitment to weapon balance (the super shotgun conjured up memories of the one shot kill from Doom 2). The enemies themselves have a refreshingly unique look to them...while the plot for Quake II is hardly original, there is no doubt that these aliens are 100% originals. Whatever their influences were, they don't show through here in the slightest. Of course (and id even says so in the readme file) these aliens are dumb as bricks. A couple of times, I got one of them to continuously duck for no reason whatsoever. But again, this is only temporary.

The only thing I thought was really weak about the demo was the level design. Now granted, this is only a sliver of the actual game, so I'm sure it's going to be much better when we get the full version, but these three levels didn't strike me as being especially unique from the ones we've seen before. They had neither the interactivity of Hexen II's levels, or the sheer size of the Jedi Knight levels. While they were very nicely done architecturally, I was left somewhat bored by the monster placement (the mission based levels of the retail version will quell this, no doubt).

No matter what, Quake II just plain looks great. This is going to sell a lot of 3DFX cards (for the record, the colored lighting really does add a great deal to the emersion level of Q2...if you're not seeing it with a 3DFX, you may as well be in software).

Kevin"Fragmaster"Bowen, Content Director

Quake2: If only I had a 3D card.

I really liked the Quake2 demo and all, but it really threw a big ol' bucket of water in my face. I need a 3D card. EVERYONE needs a 3D card. Sure, Quake looks fine without one… but that's probably because the palette was so brownish and dull. If you compare the Q2 screenshots to the software version… it just doesn't compare.

Besides that, I was very impressed. The levels look like real places and not just some dungeon-type thing or big blue somethingorothers. Paul Steed rocks. The models kick ass (with the exception of some of the death sequences and that one funny walk cycle). The weapon models were just awesome… and so were the weapons themselves (although the hand grenade seems a little pointless to me… maybe if you could put a timer on it or make it motion sensitive?) The sound… well… some of them were ok, but I'm really picky as far as sound goes as it is.

Even though the test was obviously lacking in some areas, you can still see that Quake2 will be id's best game yet. This time, Quake will be done right.

Aurora, Clan PMS

Having generated over a quarter million downloads in it's first two days of release, Quake II is obviously one of the most anticipated games of 1997. But did the demo hold up to the expectations of the loyal Quake/id fans? Many people felt that the demo lacked because it wasn't set for multi-player games. However, I read probably over 12 articles and notices in .plan files and from gaming news/magazine sites, that this demo would NOT have multi-player functionality, so for me, that wasn't an issue.

One of the best things, I found, was that in many places, the overall "feel" of the levels wass greatly improved. The newer sky textures and objects seem to have strayed a little bit from the "overly-military" look and bring out a new feel to id's game. Granted First person Shooters (FPS) all tend to look like a military boot camp, and for the most part the demo stays with this. While I would prefer a FPS to take place in an ancient Egyptian temple (to move away from the boring brown & green colours), the II demo did show me that people who make textures and levels do use all the colours available to them.

The very first thing I noticed when I started playing was ... "Ahh... it feels like home!" The look and feel of the game... right from the sounds to the status bar was the same feeling I got when playing DOOM or Quake for the first time. Very standard id stuff, and great stuff at that. You know who's game your playing and you know it is going to be good.

The monsters, quite frankly amazed me. I spent more time viewing them in "idle" than I did playing the levels through to finish the mission. I have no complaints on the models themselves, however.... they don't all fit the theme! You have the big powerful guys that shoot at you and yell out some word or two in English, then you have this "dog/humanoid" creature that spits a harpoon out at you. As much as it looks awesome and the tongue thing literally made me jump when it attacked and the screen flashed bright white ... I had to wonder *why* it was there. It didn't really fit with the whole theme so far. The flies on the dead monster were a nice touch though. =D

"In the interest of keeping the demo download size reasonable, the high quality sound files and cinematics are not included for testing." [taken from the readme.file included with the demo] With that taken into consideration, the sounds were good. I did feel that there wasn't enough "extra sounds. When you were underground by the water you could hear water dripping. A nice touch. When you were within 2 rooms of the major Comm room (with the kick ass computer and satellite dish) I though you should of been able to hear more background noises, like equipment running. Hopefully these are things the final release of Quake II will include. Another added bonus; I never realized what Quake was missing until I used the "crouch/duck" movement in this demo!

Overall I rated it 7 out of 10. I've played the demo through 3 times and enjoyed it very much. For FPS games, id software is the master!

Joost "lothwi" Schuur, Hosting Manager

after having finally gotten my hands on the quake 2 'test release' on sunday and had the chance to play with it for a bit, the one thing that stuck in my mind was: 'the return of the dead marine'. remember how in doom, dead space marines spread throughout the level reinforced the story of how you were the only survivor up against an onslaught of enimies? well, they're back. there's dead space marines between you and that final 'exit' button, and boy does this contribute a heck of a lot to the general athmosphere to the game. and it's not just 'kill everything that moves' anymore, the game has a plot (albeit the test version has a very simple one). several times have i found myself somewhat confused about what path to take and what to do next during my first run through of these first few levels. but in this case confusion is good. today's gameplayer wants to be challenged.

and challenge is what quake 2 has to offer. i've found myself thinking 'holy cow, that monster is trying to ambush me' or 'i wonder what i just triggered by raising that toxic waster sludge?'. id has managed to combine just the right combination of action and puzzle (the hub/unit system in quake is just superb!). once again i've really had to strain my brain and think about how each type of monster behaves and how to react (is that parasite annoying or what?).

granted, q2_test is new and refreshing, maybe that's part of it's charm. personally i've not yet had a chance to see it in gl. sound doesn't even work properly for me. yet i've come back to it again and again and played it through several times until the end, despite the lack of skill levels or the fact that i've seen it all already. i've got a few more secrets to discover though. infact i'm even going to play it again now. you'll excuse me...

fact of the matter is: quake 2 will rule the cosmos.

Akiva 'That Guy' Freidlin, PQStaff Writer

I laughed. I cried. I pissed my pants when I saw the Tank. Yeah, everybody, the long-awaited Quake 2 test has arrived.

We sp00ged over the screenshots for months. We voraciously read the .plan updates, hoping for a glimpse of what was to come next from the innovators of the PC action genre. We cursed game magazines, for temtping us, tormenting us, with tidbits of information, claims, and interviews. Well now, we finally have something to quench our craving for the drug that id produces in it's Mesquite, TX offices. I have been glutting my senses for the past 48 hours on what is undoubtedtly going to be the big winner this Christmas, and goddamit, I'm far from full. The Quake2 test has some incredible highs, and some disapointing lows. However, remember, this is not a finished product, and I hope is far from it. This demo, I'm sure, does not do justice to what the full version will unleash on us, when it is released. (Various id developers have said it will be released anywhere from the first week of November to Christmas, but no later than that. And dont bitch, it's better than the ambiguos "when it's done," or the oft-uttered proverbial "two weeks." Unlike most gaming companies, id has a strong history of giving liberal release dates, and then suprising us all by keeping their word. (Hint, Hint, Myscha.;) ) The test was released early sunday morning, with an exhausting hubbub of an IRC release party on 3Dnet #quake. Over 500 people crammed themselves into the channel, overwhelming the operators with requests for voice priveleges. Personalities from all over the Quake community where on hand, with everybody from Zoid to blue, Redwood to FragMaster, all the way up to Disruptor and Tokay. (Christian Antkow and American Mcgee, respectivley.) Cries of "Can someone please give so-and-so a +v, please?" rang throughout the channel, flooding the screen, making it virtually impossible to get a word in edgewise. Excitement sometimes gave way to indignation, as some unbelievers cursed id for making them wait so long. Rumours, proclamations, and denouncements that this was all a fake on the part of Disruptor, to gauge the excitement of the public. (Come on, guys, do you think they are that stupid?!) Finally, at about 5:00 am, a URL was released. Within hours, mirrors had gone up, and then been swamped with users. The test was well worth the wait. Here is why.

Graphics - General

WOW! The new color pallette stunned me, with some vivid reds, oranges, and pale blues and greens. Obviously, this is a wildly different beast than the browns and grey/blues of the color pallette of the original quake. At first the game struck me as slightly Duke Nukemish, (BLEH!) but I soon realized that this was simply pallette shock: after Quake, anything with color that doesn't look like it popped from a David Lynch film looks like an Acid trip. At some points in the otherwise beautiful sky, the dithering of colors was fairly obvious, but did not much diminish the immersive quality of looking out of a window, and seeing a whole alien landscape plastered over the horizon. (You should know that this was tested in the in the software mode, that is, non GL-enabled, for lack of a 3DFX card. However, if someone wants to donate one to me...) Everything fit well with the story of the game, though at some points I felt as if I was in an earthling military base, and not in an alien Installation. JOHN CARMACK, JOHN CASH, AND BRIANHOOKARE CODE P1MPS! As you may be able to tell, I loved the transparent water in software mode. Transparency without hardware acceleration was something I thought impossible before i downloaded this behemoth. There was however, a definite performance problem. I am running on a Pentium processor, 133 megahertz, with 16 megs of ram.This I made sure to close all memory resident programs (except of course, Windows 95) and yet i still got an unacceptable framerate at 640 by 480, even with the viewport at it's smallest possible size. At 320 by 200 resolution, I was able to squeeze out 30 FPS, and that was with the viewport at about midsize.

Models And Skins

Paul Steed is god. The animation quality was wonderful, with grunts ducking shots almost effortlessly. Idle animations were superb, with those shock trooper guys cocking their prosthetic guns, wandering around, and glowering from behind their translucent faceplates.Gunners looked incredible rotating their guns, that is when I was alive long enough to notice. Death animations were a little sparse, but not too noticeable. The only major gripe I had was the gibs. JESUS! What was once the incredible fountain of gore in quake, spewing from a shambler after being satisfyingly gibbed by a Quad-Powered Nailgun, are now some orbs of blood. A recognizable bodypart is rairly found, and no more than three or four of these little balls of innards are present, even if the victim is a massive 'Tank.' Also, the rate of speed with which these thingies emerge from their once living owners is absurd. The gibs fly out from the bodies as if shot out of a particle accelerator. I suppose this is all fixable, and that this problem is only a result of rushing. My only other problem is that enemies, especially when killed, look extremely small. (Excluding, of course, the massive Tank.) This scale problem, I suppose, could be remedied by messing around a bit in lightwave, or whatever 3D modeling program Steed is using. The skins, for the most part, are flawlessly executed by Kevin Cloud and Adrian Carmack. Nothing wrong there. The damaged skins, which come up after an enemy takes a certain amount of punishment from you and show blood and gore seeping out of the various bulletholes on the skin, are excellent. (This technique, so far as I know, was first put to use in the excellent Painkeep Conversion. Go check it out, it is wholesome Deathmatching fun for the whole family.)


The level design is excellent, though as mentioned before, it sometimes has an earthy feel to it. I love looking at buildings and thinking, "Wow, I remember that from some screenshots!" The movement between levels is excellent, allowing you to move back and forth freely from level to level. I'm sure this will have some interesting uses of this in the finished product. This technique of relative non-linearity between maps, which was used in HEXEN, is far better executed here. When traveling from level to level , I always felt that I was just moving to a different area of a complex or city, as you can truly see parts of the level you just exited. In HEXEN, I felt as if I was being randomly transported to a new world. I can't wait for the the stuff id has in store for us, and even more exciting is the possibilities that arise for level designers.


There really isnt anything much I can say here, as the sound on my machine was extremely b0rked. There was a constant crackling and skipping problem, and I was rarely able to discern anything intelligeble. It sounded like a friggin breakfast cereal. This has been a problem on the machines of many whom I have talked to about the demo, and it is a problem, I suppose, that has arrisen from the Q2 sound code. I'm quite positive it will be fixed in the final release. What sounds I could hear where mostly unfinished. For instance, the sound of the player jumping sounded pretty much the same as the original quake jumping sound.

All in All

So, altogether, though slightly flawed, the demo was very impressive. Yeah, we all wanted multiplayer, but we all know id would never hold out on us. It will be in the full version, of course. From what I hear, there is even a planned second demo coming out, this time with multiplayer support. If you havent done so already, please check it out. Save your pennies, children, cause Quake2 is going to Rock your World.

Droog (w\ by BlackJedi), PQStaff Writers

There's got to be something unusual going on for me to be in work on a Sunday, and the release of the Quake 2 test certainly qualifies. After downloading most of it at home from the slowest ISP in Christendom, only to inadvertently press Cancel with only 500K to go(!), the lure of the office and its reasonably fast net connection was impossible to resist.

BlackJedi was already in work and downloading, having received my teasing email suggesting that he might like to have a look at PlanetQuake. Keeping well away from the keyboard or mouse, we urged the damn thing to download faster.

Minutes later we were both vying to be the first to discover exciting new things ("Crouch is excellent!", "I've found a ladder!", and so on), and for superlatives to describe the game. A big first impression was that the side-mounted weapons didn't really affect the gameplay, and apart from the seemingly swollen wrist, the weapon anims were superb.

The Duke Nukem-esque (but better) holes in the scenery add a lot to the level designs and help them to appear less linear. The improved engine's particle effects added atmosphere, especially on the sparking door frames. Ambient sound effects were cool, too: we just HAD to turn the speakers up loud to get the full effect.

Impressed as I was, it wasn't until I took the demo home and tried it out with my Monster 3D that the difference really hit home. I was completely stunned by the GL effects. The coloured lighting really isn't just a gimmick, it adds warmth to the game and somehow makes it (even) more immersive. I found myself spending half an hour or so just wandering about firing the blaster and watching the light shoot down dark corridors. The era of 3D acceleration has definitely arrived. If you haven't already done so, go out and buy a 3DFX card today!

After the relative disappointment of DOOM 2 not offering anything significant over DOOM, and having spent the last few months salivating over every Quake 2 screenshot ever released, this demo has definitely been worth the wait. Technologically, the game has leapfrogged its competitors (most of which use the Quake engine anyway), and makes Jedi Knight look even lamer.

I've had a couple of days to get used to it now; I've played it through a few times to get all of the secrets and marvelled again and again over just how *good* it looks. It's definitely more 'together' than Quake, the plot seems consistent and believable (well, as far as these things go!) and you actually feel like you're trying to achieve something, rather than just blindly racing around, gibbing everything in sight. The Quake universe suddenly seems much bigger when you can go back and forth between levels (with a reasonably fast load time). The game flows much smoother because of this; the levels felt like a natural progression. Compare e4m1 and e4m2 of Quake, which I played recently; you go from a military base populated by grunts and enforcers to a dungeon with stained glass, knights and shamblers. Before Quake 2, I hadn't noticed how incongruous the level change was - and I realised how much I'd missed the logical progression through a homogenous environment that DOOM provided.

The personal computer is a nice addition, it helps you know just what the heck you're supposed to be doing and how much of it you've done. The inventory is another good thing. All those times in deathmatch when you've got the quad but there's nobody around to gib are gone forever. Now that you can save it until you're in the thick of things, it will add a whole new tactical element to deathmatch games.

The criticisms I've got are fairly small and are either mentioned in the readme that comes with the demo, or by id people in .plan updates: some of the weapons are a little big and obscure the view somewhat, gibs aren't big enough. One thing not mentioned though: I can't get the hang of rocket jumping. Maybe it's just the keyboard lag, but the rocket launcher seems to shift you sideways when fired, which makes accurate jumping a good deal more difficult than before.

Summary: The best just got better!

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