When we wrote our Random Access Memory Lane series it sparked a lot of conversation between us and our friends both on the internet and IRL. The main thing we learnt from these conversations and even admit in the earlier posts is there are so many games we missed. So when we decided to bring the retro back the first game that sprung into my polygon obsessed mind was arguably the daddy of the 3D shooter. Quake.
For those of you who haven’t played Quake you really should. Any real FPS lover worth their salt should experience this game as the team at id Software brought a lot of seminal additions to the table with this one and as a result were instrumental in the evolution of the shooter genre. For example some of its weapons such as the Nail Gun or the Thunderbolt are iconic and I believe it’s the first instance of rocket jumping. The shooter genre wasn’t the only thing that Quake contributed to, it is also credited with being the godfather of Machinima.
When I think of Quake I always get a little scared. Looking back it used to freak me the fuck out a little and when I fired this up the other day via DosBox the memories came flooding back. The bit I speak of is the level difficulty screen which presents you with a couple of different portals and next to hard difficulty just where the lava is there are some still twitching mutilated bodies attached to the wall by meat-hooks moaning in agony. Now I am not a squeamish person I can happily watch horror films of the grossest variety usually cheering for the psycho. I think what shocked me a little was the fact that unlike a film where it shows you a finite amount of grossness, this grisly scene is ever-present. Coupled with the fact that this was the first time I had ever really encountered this level of gore in a game the image kind of stuck.
Quake didn’t not only did horror though, it uniquely blended elements of dark fantasy and sci-fi and even based the end boss on some horrible looking, obscure (to me at least) deity known
as Shub-Niggurath. As you navigate around the various levels you notice the inspirations from the various genres, crossing medieval drawbridges that are activated by futuristic buttons and hunting for keys and runes whilst slaying Doberman’s, insane knights and what look like unhygienic butchers. It’s a kind of weird mix but oddly it works pretty well even now, although I may have a rather flowery shade of lens in my specs.
Probably one of my favourite power-ups to be found in any game is nestled in this digital creation and it’s sequels. Quad Damage just makes you feel powerful, from the moment you pick it up and here that famous sound and every hideously overpowered shot you make thereafter. I think the best thing about it was it never lasted that long so it caused you to scramble through the level to cause as much blood spattered carnage as you could before it faded.
Quad Damage was equally devastating in the spectacular multiplayer mode that Quake provided, which brings me back to the first thoughts I have when I visualise the game. It takes me back to being thirteen again and my dad taking me to this computer shop in town where we got our first PC. It had a beast of a Pentium 166Mhz and a mammoth 16MB of RAM, utter dog shit by today’s standard but such an impressive piece of wizardry back in the mid nineties. Anyway my dad took me along to this shop probably to buy some floppy disks or something and the guys who worked there clocked my interest in the games they had there and asked if I wanted to play some Quake with them, having no idea what Quake was I acted as cool as a thirteen year old can said ‘sure’. So with my dads permission and this next bit sounds a lot more sinister than it was this random guy took me upstairs. What I was presented with was a bunch of PC’s hooked up on what I know now was a LAN and at a few of the computers were a few guys (all clothed, mostly spectacled and/or bearded) immersed in shooting each other and calling each other all kinds of rude names. I was invited to hop on a nearby station whereby I got suitably pwned (no mercy for the kid). I learned a lot from that skirmish, I witnessed some fine smack talk first hand, played on my first LAN and was introduced to true nerd culture for the very first time. Games I realised weren’t just made for kids but had a whole following in the adult world previously unknown to me. Quake didn’t just provide me with hours of fun in a game whose quality has rarely been matched since but also provided me with a peak into a culture that I proudly count myself part of now as a big boy.
If you would like to get all nostalgic and play Quake again, or try it out for the first time download all the stuff from the links below. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get it working but be patient.
Download DosBox – needed to run Quake
Download Quake from here I think this one is shareware, you might be able to find the full game somewhere else.
Do you also hold Quake dear? What did you like about it? Or have you never played it? Let us know in the comments and as usual like/comment/subscribe. Thanks for reading.