I have a funny relationship with the Quake series. When I was at school, LAN parties were all the rage and cyber cafes were on most street corners. Remember those? Okay, so not everyone is an old fuddy duddy like me, but they were cool, okay!?
Anyway, at that point everyone loved playing Quake. Deathmatches would rage on for hours and classes would be skipped at school during lunch hour to get more time in. I had the allure of Marathon from Bungie to satisfy, but I did get into a bit of hot water during computing, and subsequently, business class. See I figured that instead of paying the cyber cafe for time on the internet, we could just use the computer lab PCs as a Quake LAN network. Genius move!
Quake got its own remaster in 2021 and was an absolutely stunning achievement. The graphics shone and the blistering framerate breathed life into this childhood pastime. With Quake II receiving the same treatment, nothing but the best is expected! So let’s take a look at how the sequel’s remaster has cleaned up shall we?
Off the bat, the sheer amount of options available are staggering. Not only have you got the original Quake II and the two original expansions, but you get the full version of Quake II 64 and a brand new campaign created just for this release too.
Story wise there isn’t too much substance. You play as a marine and have to kill the Strogg. Yep there’s little more to it than that, but Quake doesn’t need a complex narrative gripping you at every corner – it is a no nonsense beer and curry style shooter. And, there’s nothing wrong with any of that.
The original game and Quake II 64 play just as delicious as ever. Gothic-like enemies who have vastly improved AI attack you in their hordes, while the level design is found ever-pushing you to the end; it still has some hidden pathways to explore should you wish to do so. Of course the obligatory coloured key cards to open doors are present but later there is a touch of problem solving, taking in puzzles that are quite nice. The only problem for me is the starting levels.
See Quake II wasn’t really a game I spent much time with. After Quake 1 I had moved onto other things and never really came back to the series. So, the lack of nostalgia really highlights the lacklustre nature and design of the opening levels. This especially stands out when you try the brand new campaign mode – Call of the Machine.
In this mode it truly feels like a brand new retro style game. Much more detail and design work has been put into these brand new levels. MachineGames also made the new campaign mode for the original Quake remastered too. Definitely jump into here regardless of whether you played the original or not.
Weapons are solid and crunchy like the mini gun and shotgun, and the enemies – even on easier difficulties – aren’t just bland paths following AI. They appear to hunt you down and take some last-stand shots at you when they hit the floor. Provided they haven’t been blown to pieces that is!
Multiplayer is what made Quake shine back in the day and it’s included here too, both online and offline for up to 8 players, which is insane. But even then, it still doesn’t have that must play factor for me, and I think the level design of this sequel is what really puts me off wanting to have one more go.
That’s not to say this is a bad game, far from it. It’s just that Quake II doesn’t feature very memorable levels or enemies; especially not when compared to the original Quake, Doom or even Duke Nukem 3D. Fans of the original will love this, and new fans of the boomer shooter revival that’s happening will lap it up.
For me, I hope MachineGames go and make a full blown sequel to the first two games in this style. I know, Quake 3 and 4 exist, but they were really not great and the team have proved their mettle creating the brand new campaigns for the original beloved titles. Let them make another please!
All in, Quake II is a great value package, well priced and showered with love and care. It may not go on playlist rotation, but it’ll be hard to turn down a game of Quake II when asked.