The other day I was chatting to a couple of techies at work, and one of them said he’d never heard of Quake.
The good there news is I’ve found the one person in the world oblivious to one of the most iconic shooters of all time, so the rest of you should have a rough idea what’s going on here. But in case it’s slipped your mind, Quake was a pivotal first person shooter released back in the mid-90s as the next set of games from id Software after their incredible Doom games. You might’ve heard of those too. With an awesome industrial soundtrack from the Nine Inch Nails, fast paced action and a nail gun that would still be talked about 25 years later it was one of those games that everyone played, and some were even lucky enough to head online via dialup to get their ass kicked by someone 200 miles away. Good times. If only we could enjoy all of that again.
Yeah well obviously we can, with the newly released remastered version that brings HD visuals, every last drop of DLC (and there were a lot of drops) and a more robust and up to date multiplayer side that make the most of your modern connection that’s probably well over 1000 times faster than 1996 speeds. Yep, I did the maths so you didn’t have to. So how does it hold up after 25 years? If I’m honest I’m not really one for retro games, so I went into this with some degree of scepticism.
But, and here’s the weird thing… I had an amazing time.
The first thing I noticed was the addition of motion controls for aiming, twisting and turning your Playstation controller to point whichever insane weapon you were currently holding, at whichever insane bad guy was lurching towards you. It felt strange and messed with my muscle memory, so I turned it off. I’m sure some will like it and it felt accurate, but if I’m going to grab my shotgun and pump weird creatures into a nearby pool of who-knows-what then I’m doing it on my own terms. But the gameplay felt absolutely rock solid and incredibly tight. Quake is a fast game, very fast at times, and being in control is vital, so it was really nice to feel how well the controller handled this. Jumping, strafing, blasting away, it all felt great. This was a time when games were simpler – there’s no scope aim, no subtlety, just proper balls-out running round shooting awesome weapons at hideous looking nasties.
And I mean hideous in two ways. The design is fairly grim, with some really gnarly beasts pouring at you from every doorway you can see. But also, a quarter of a century on, Quake isn’t a pretty boy. The textures are nicely souped up into HD, but they’re old textures and look (funnily enough) like a 90s game. But that’s excellent – the remaster here isn’t like Mass Effect, designed to have you oohing and aahing over a beautiful sunset. Instead you get a rock solid super smooth frame rate, a game that rattles along at a fantastic pace and will throw nostalgia at you by the bucket load, and even if you’re a retrosceptic like I am… well, it’s impossible not to find yourself smiling while playing this. It still looks far better than playing the original thanks to the HD oomph the remaster brings to the party, but don’t expect a game that’s been rebuilt from the ground up with modern visual expectations. That’s not Quake.
But you know what Quake is? It’s fun. Easy, accessible and adrenaline fuelled fun, and in a time when games are going out of their way to include hyper-realistic physics, photo-realistic visuals and 429 game modes it’s nice just to sit down for half an hour and pump some bizarre creatures full of nails while listening to a thumping soundtrack. And that, right there, is the peak of mid-90s gaming in a nutshell. I’d like to see more people available online, and you might find the rose tint wears off after a while, but there’s a lot to love.
Reviewed on PS4