NOT A REVIEW: Quake Live
March 15, 2009

I'd forgotten how fast it was. It's a criminally long time since I played Quake III Arena, iD Software's seminal year-2000 multiplayer shooter. In that near-decade break, games have slowed down. Even the hectic fragging of Team Fortress 2 feels glacial by comparison. This is ridiculous.

Quake Live is Quake III. Simple as. Not Quake III in a browser, even; that it feeds off Firefox or IE is completely incidental. After you register, the game downloads to your hard drive as you complete the mandatory training and matchmaking arenas, and once you're playing, there's no way of telling this from the next FPS. It's full-screen, high-resolution and (relatively) high detail. I can find no significant differences between this and the original product.

Which makes playing it, and thinking about it, a bit weird. Quake III is very old. So Quake Live feels very old. There's an awkwardness to the complete lack of sensible tactics, mechanics that have been since revolutionised over and over again. It's all bunny-hopping, rocket-jumping, spazz-strafing madness. The simplicity is overwhelming. You run, and jump, and shoot. No further taxation necessary.

By extension, what was once gloriously silly feels a bit strange now. I'm quite good at first-person shooters, generally. I'm rubbish at Quake Live. Having demonstrated my ability to rocket-jump and bunny-hop successfully in the training mode, the game decided I was an expert. I'm really, plainly not. I keep forgetting myself, trying to take cover, move carefully, plan strategically. And Quake III just didn't work like that. It's all about speed and precision.

What's frustrating is that, while the former is present in abundance, the latter is really, significantly lacking. There's a miniscule mouse-lag. In most games, it wouldn't be apparent whatsoever. In Quake Live, it can mean the difference between a much-needed headshot and your own untimely and gruesome death. When your game is this ferociously high-octane, the slightest performance issues can be crippling. If they don't get this sorted out by the end of BETA, there's going to be grumpiness.

What's left is a game that's still ludicrous, silly, bonkers fun in short doses, but a decade-old FPS with dated mechanics and underwhelming visuals. The level design remains unprecidented for online shooting, which might just give it the edge it needs. But I kind of wish I hadn't played this. Instead of making me all nostalgic, it's ever-so-slightly sullied the memories of one of my favourite classic shooters.

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Halon Halon - March 15, 2009 (07:41 AM)
I signed up for the beta sometime last year and finally got a chance to try it in January. Never did it.

I'm a huge Unreal fan so I never really got into Quake 3 (played it for a few months then got UT and never touched it again) but this looks like a good way to pass some time every now and then.
EmP EmP - March 15, 2009 (08:15 AM)
Q3 > UT. If you disagree, then you're insane.

I rather like Quake 3. I don't know if I ever mentioned.
Suskie Suskie - March 15, 2009 (10:05 AM)
It's been a long time since I played a Quake game but they'd have to be pretty friggin' amazing to beat out UT.
EmP EmP - March 15, 2009 (10:35 AM)
Q3:A is the best tourney-based FPS that'll ever be made. Ever.

There, it needed saying, and I said it.
dragoon_of_infinity dragoon_of_infinity - March 15, 2009 (10:39 AM)
Don't worry about EmP, he's clearly deranged.

Quake 3 is a fantastic arena FPS, but Unreal Tournament was every bit as good, if not better (I lean towards better). That's just the original, though, UT2k4 is the epitome of the genre, and will probably never be topped.
EmP EmP - March 15, 2009 (10:51 AM)
From the makers of Gears of War.
dragoon_of_infinity dragoon_of_infinity - March 15, 2009 (10:57 AM)
You didn't have to remind me! Lord knows that Epic does enough of that by itself.
Halon Halon - March 15, 2009 (11:24 AM)
I have to give the edge to the original UT since it was the first game that really got me into multiplayer gaming (today pretty much all I play is multiplayer) but I agree about 2k4 being just as good. Those two along with Tribes are the best multiplayer FPS of all time.

Also UT > Quake 3 > Gears of War
Lewis Lewis - March 15, 2009 (12:26 PM)
Tribes is now free as well!
Halon Halon - March 15, 2009 (01:11 PM)
True, but no one plays it anymore. :(
bluberry bluberry - March 15, 2009 (04:17 PM)
it has lots of silly little changes that hurt the flow of the game, at least to me. the railgun doing 80 damage instead of 100 is particularly stupid, though I know that I'm only good for complaining and blah blah blah nothing I say matters at all because videogames are art. a quad damage rail shot should be a guaranteed kill, no questions about it.
Lewis Lewis - March 15, 2009 (04:32 PM)
I hadn't noticed anything like that, funnily enough. But then I'm so notoriously awful with the railgun (particularly with that slight lag) that I never get a clean hit anyway. What else is altered? Certainly none of the fundamentals are; perhaps it would have been better to make huge mechanistic shifts, rather than very slight balancing ones.

Was Quake 3 ever fair? I can't remember. It's all a hazy pre-teen memory.

Oh, and calling Quake 3 "art" would be a stretch. Even for me. Though I'm sure I could argue it if I tried.
bluberry bluberry - March 15, 2009 (11:28 PM)
it's mostly just little changes like that, which aren't enough to really change the game but are enough to irk all the old Q3A nerds. I didn't really notice any lag when I was playing it, though; I was still dirty with the railgun, it just didn't drop people like it should.

the lightning gun is a bit off, too. not that I ever really liked it, but now it does a little less damage at close range and a lot less at longer ranges. feels like 7/6/5 or something, I know in Q3A it was 8/8/8.

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