Like most things of my life that I fondly remember, it was in the ‘90s that a real good friend of mine introduced me to the world of PC Gaming. He was a gaming freak and had always mocked me over my outdated… scratch that, ANCIENT Nintendo Console. Finally though, when I did get my first PC with Windows 95, he made it his mission to get me some of his favorites. There was the infamous Sky Target from Sega that found its way to the PC, there was a pretty snazzy fighter called Cyber Gladiators which had pretty neat 3D rendering. There were a couple more whose names escape me, largely because they all paled to the one, the only… QUAKE.
Proudly to be remembered as “that other First Person Shooter” from id Software, Quake took off from where its predecessor Doom left off. One of the first games with full real-time 3D rendering, Quake took full advantage of my little 333 Mhz CPU to showcase its incredible layouts and arenas. From futuristic military bases to other-worldly medieval & gothic cathedrals, to even the pits of the underworld itself, Quake redefined just what video gaming was all about. The beauty of it all was that even with Windows on kaput (and since this was Windows 95, let’s say every other week), Quake could be run on basic MS DOS and still kick all sorts of rear-end.
Much like Doom, Quake follows the lone protagonist who’s given the mission to defeat a rogue element single-handed that’ve been using teleporter technology to get into Earth. The game takes the protagonist all the way from known Earth to other dimensions full of nasty monsters, deadly traps, complex puzzles while also providing access to top-of-the-line weapons, from shotguns to rocket launchers. Not to mention the pretty gold & silver keys and a few runes.
Did I mention that the rogue element employs all sorts of deadly monsters to do its bidding?
But enough about the game itself. This is about a 13 year old boy who was forever hooked onto the masterpiece that is QUAKE. This is about what this single game has been a major influence to the imagination already fueled by DC Comics and the Star Trek franchise, as well as popular ‘80s TV shows such as Knight Rider & Airwolf. In fact, Quake managed to do what none of the above could do; make me ignore all of them for a good 3-4 years. Unlike most gamers, I took my time, starting from the bottom with the easy mode, then the normal, then the hard, and finally that secret corridor that led to the Nightmare mode. Four Difficulty Levels, four different episodes of six levels each, followed by the grand finale. That’s about a 100 levels of pure adrenaline, beautifully crafted gothic scenery, and a whole lot of blood & gore of the pixelated variety. Seriously, the detail was incredible.
Purely by chance, another of my endeavors into PC gaming was an obscure racing title called Motorhead. For some reason, my PC never was able to play it, but on the plus side the double layered CD boasted the incredible soundtrack by Olof Gustafsson which Quake automatically played during game-play Needless to say, the futuristic trance music made the gaming experience far more superior and I think the Motorhead CD was worth the money. Well I say that because I pretty much played a lot of other video games whilst listening to that soundtrack, but Olof Gustafsson will have to wait.
Quake haunted my every waking moment, and then some. I now roamed the school building in a haze and not surprisingly, a life & ammo meter beneath my field of vision. I couldn’t turn a corner without reacting to Grunt or an Ogre or a Shambler. Which technically would & should be any 14-year old boy’s reaction to a group of girls approaching him around the bend when they look at him and think all guys MUST be this dorky, if not having cooties anyway. And if being awake wasn’t addictive enough, I found a better part of a year formulating strategies (as if there was such a thing in Quake) in my dreams. I’d be haunted by all the monsters and yet be as casual in shooting a rocket at them as if I were in god mode.
Could anything top off my experience? Sure, the nifty expansion pack called the Quake: X-Men Apocalypse. An entirely new game with new rules, but the basic one was to my liking: kill all X-Men! Well not the real X-Men, more like clones of the X-Men which were kidnapped by Apocalypse to be his mutant clone army or something; I forget. Still, clones they were, and unlike the dark & gritty medieval atmosphere in Quake, this was a brighter tech-savvy environment. All the baddies and monsters from Quake were now replaced by X-Men clones with pretty much the same attacks. You could easily tell that Wolverine was a Fiend in disguise, though sadly the growling didn’t sound like ‘bub’ at all.
Quake was the love of my life. So much so that I never moved on to the sequels. Quake II was immediately put back on the shelf upon discovering it had nothing to do with the original story line wise. Quake III Arena won me over because of the graphics only, and Quake IV? Was there a Quake IV?
Some years ago, I came across an updated build of the original Quake game, with new levels “Scourge of Armagon” and “Dissolution of Eternity.” I fell in love again, and how could I not? It had a dragon! A… DRAGON!!! I think I drooled the entire time I managed to get it up and running on my PC. Sadly, the Motorhead CD was long gone, scratched to the very last silver filament.
No matter how far technology has progressed with all the ridiculous levels of game-play enhancements in all the consoles or new-age PCs, nothing can beat the original masterpiece that changed the way FPS and, dare I say it, all video games were made. It had the environment, the atmosphere, the dark, gritty architecture, the scariest of monsters, the cleanest game-play and the most fun! Its universal acclaim can be attested to the fact that it is the first thing you see when you Google the word ‘quake’. And it has been the driving force of a young boy’s life right into adulthood at the turn of a millennium.
It truly was ahead of its time. And it truly does stand the test of time among the all-time classics.