Quake Arena Arcade Review
Even years after its release, I (and many others, privately and competitively) played Quake III Arena as the game was one of the most visceral and visually stunning FPS games available, stepping away from the muddy brown textures that Quake 1 and 2 single-handedly popularized.
Eventually Q3 became somewhat dated, and was replaced the Unreal Tournament series, though I did enjoy Quake 4 and Prey’s multiplayer modes as sort of a nostalgic throwback. Quake Arena Arcade has been planned for a few years now, and I’ve been waiting eagerly to see how the iconic shooter holds up after a decade of advancement in the genre. Arcade is a slight evolution of Quake III Arena, id Software’s frantic 1999 multiplayer masterpiece; The graphics and sound have been given an HD boost, and the textures and particularly the lighting are considerably more advanced than their original counterparts, though character models don't seem to have any more polygons than they did 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, and I never thought I’d say this, the game suffers from the lack of mouse and keyboard input. As someone who spent entire months of their life playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Half-Life and Unreal Tournament, I was knee-deep in PC shooters long before Halo brought the genre to consoles. But, I’ve come to know and love mouse-free FPS games, as have millions of others, and I’ve never once felt that I could be doing better with a PC setup until now. The problem is that Q3 is notoriously twitchy. The action is fast and unforgiving, and most of the weapons require an inhuman level of persistent accuracy that only the AI seems to possess.
Most multiplayer matches simply revolve around racing to the room that houses the rocket launcher, then trying to out-splash damage your opponents. Perhaps I’m just out of practice, as I remember being notably better at this game 10 years ago, but others have voiced similar concerns. Still, it’s Quake III Arena, on the Xbox 360, with a slew of maps (over 30, including several Xbox 360 exclusives), 12 weapons from Q3 and the Team Arena, and all the different modes you’d expect).
The new single-player campaign is home to over 75 different missions (you against bots in varying match configurations). That’s a massive undertaking unto itself, and if you prefer to play alone but don’t care about the story-less campaign, Practice mode has every map and mode that’s available in multi. The online seems solid enough, but even within a week of the game’s release, player numbers are rapidly dwindling. I expect that finding a game of 16 humans (the max allowed) will be more challenging than the matches themselves in a month or so.
Honestly, I’m glad Quake Arena Arcade exists. Despite the fact that I’m struggling to remaster the controller-bound action that I was once so fond of on the PC, this is an extremely value-ridden package. The sheer amount of maps and gameplay possibilities, coupled with the enhanced visuals, makes Quake once again relevant after all this time. Even if that effect is short-lived, I’m glad I was given the opportunity to enjoy it while it lasts.