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Publisher: Activision    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB    2x CD-ROM

Quake III Arena
April 14, 2000 | Brehan Crawford

Quake 3: Arena is the latest incarnation of the "Quake" franchise from computer-game veteran and first-person-shooter institution id Software. Quake 3 is also the first game ever to come from id to be released simultaneously for more than one platform ó in this case, for Macintosh, Windows and Linux. As with its other two namesakes, Quake 3 is a first-person shooter, where the object of the game is fairly simple, and described in one line of text in the game manual: "Frag anything that isnít you."

With Quake 3, id has taken a very different turn from most computer game strategies; rather than putting a focus on single-player game play and adding on multi-player as an afterthought, as many game companies do, id has focused the action of Quake 3 on multiplayer. Hence the "arena" added to the name.

The development process of Quake 3 was much more publicly visible than that of most games; in March of 1999, id released the first version of what they called "Q3test," a public test of the Quake 3 engineís networking and graphics code. Q3test spread over the Internet like wildfire, accompanied my multitudes of .plan updates from id employees, fan web-sites, illegal mods and rampant speculation about what the final game would look and play like.

In late December of 1999, the Macintosh version of that game appeared, and Quake 3 has since then dominated Macintosh game software sales, according to PC Data. But is Quake 3 everything that id intended? Many people claim that it was shipped "incomplete," to compete for Christmas sales with Unreal Tournament, a similarly themed first-person-shooter that had shipped just a few weeks prior to Quake 3.

Indeed, the single-player game feels rather repetitive, and even becomes a bit boring after a while. It involves the player progressing through a series of "tiers" of steadily more difficult "Bots," which are opponents controlled by the computer, in a "deathmatch" situation. Quake 3ís bot Artificial Intelligence (AI) is actually quite good, and id is to be commended for succeeding in this area where so many others have tried and failed. But alas, even the best bot is still nothing close to a real human. The bot may have perfect aim and be able to dodge the most accurate shots with ease, it still doesnít have that random "human" touch that online gamers crave. The bots tend to prefer certain places on some maps over others for unapparent reasons; they will frequently not pick up powerups or valuable weapons which are very close to them; and they constantly "spam" games with their chatter, which is charming and funny at first but quickly becomes annoying.

Id has never been known for its fantastic single-player games; Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom 1 and 2, and Quake all had very simple, almost nonexistent plot lines. Quake 2 tried very hard to compensate for this, but still left the player wanting more intrigue and surprises (this holds especially true for Mac gamers, who hold the plot of every first-person-shooter up to that of the Marathon series). Quake 3: Arena is no exception ó although the manual makes a brief mention of an ancient race known as the Vadrigar who built the arenas and brought all the gladiators together to do battle, there is no story at all whatsoever given to the player during game play. The player is left to just suspend his or her disbelief for the duration of game play ó not that thatís an odd request of a computer game, just especially hard to do with Quake 3. With little motivation to score the most kills on a given level save for being able to move on to the next tier, the task of completing the single player portion of the game becomes more of a chore than a form of recreation.


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