Quake Arena Arcade Review

By Adam Ma on January 25, 2011

Quake III Arena originally came out in 1999, which immediately makes me feel old just thinking about. It was one the original first-person shooter games I played online, and it helped me understand what exactly a frag was. It also helped me realise that every single kill should come with an enthusiastic announcer's voice. Situational weapon usage was also one of the game's more important features, as it made you think in a different way to previous games. For example, should I use the rocket launcher, shotgun, or can I get away with a gauntlet kill? These were the important questions of my (not too distant) youth, whose answers I would like to believe helped me become a better human being. So how has time, a decade after it's initial release, treated Quake Live?

That depends a little bit on what exactly you're looking for. To be short and to the point, it's a port, and one done specifically to cater for the Xbox 360's controller. Movement, shooting, weapon swaps, everything is pretty typical to today's modern FPS. There are very few surprises here in fact, to the point that it's hard to know who this kind of port is supposed to go to. On one hand, it's got everything from the original. Game modes like Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Clan Arena, and Free-For-All are still there and the levels that made Quake III Arena absolutely classic (which really boils down to any level that took place in space) are all there too.

Likewise, graphically there have been only some minor tweaks; the game looks decent considering its old age but you wouldn't tell anyone that it's the pinnacle of graphical accomplishment. However, it's worth pointing out that it does look significantly better than it did even in Quake III's last remake on Steam in 2007, but that's not hard to do to a game this old. Anyone playing this title is in it for the competitive action anyway, which is where the issues begin to seep in.

The problem with a port like this is, quite simply, that it's not on the PC. Part of Quake's massive lure was being able to compete competitively online, in addition to the wide range of mods that could be applied to the games settings for extra fun. Lacking those comparative to the original, something already feels missing when booting up the game. Naturally this also means that the game is limited to the Xbox Live user base, which at best can feel like a decent group to fight but it's still missing something. There's no incentive for the competitive Quake community to move onto the Xbox, and therefore anyone looking for a real challenge (or higher level team play) may find themselves disappointed.

As for just reliving the general experience though? If you're the kind of person interested in just picking up the game to see what it's all about (or perhaps goofing around against a few friends) Quake Live has lost none of its charm. Games are as fast and as furious as they used to be, and at the very least Instagib matches provide a lot of hilarity for anyone looking for a good laugh. If anything, it's best to look at Quake Live as an example of what the games used to be all about, more than a serious place to continue pushing forward the competitive tradition of Quake. Call it 'Quake Light' or 'Quake for Casuals' and you wouldn't be too far off the mark, but that may be just what some people are looking for.

As for the single player? Well Quake Live does have plenty of that for those who are interested, letting players run through against all the various NPCs in the game one after another. It's a nice way to hone ones skill and get to know the various level layouts a little better, plus there are those out there who really do enjoy single player options in even the most openly multiplayer of FPS titles. If that's the case, this one's for you.

Final Thoughts

So, if you've already engaged in Quake III online or if you're still engaged in the already existing PC community there's really little reason for you to investigate this port. It brings nothing to the table (outside of some 'fancy' graphics) that hasn't already been served in the prior iterations of the title, and in fact those already experienced with the 'ol mouse-n-keyboard may find this version of the game more limiting. That being said anyone new to the franchise and (somehow) hankering for an FPS experience may find themselves at the very least, amused. At least for a little while anyway, or until something newer comes along.

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