The “boomer shooter” renaissance is upon us thanks to initiatives within the industry remastering the classics, and newer games adopting their sensibilities. Wolfenstein and Doom have had tremendous success with their reborn franchises, and the remasters of the original Doom games got all new levels designed by John Romero.
The frantic fight and flight, primal, violent dance players participate in while engaging in these kinds of shooters never ceases to be satisfying. The serene wave of euphoria that washes over as you stand towering over the heaps of bloodied corpses after a chaotic shoot out is an experience anybody with a pulse can appreciate.
While Doom Eternal may have over-complicated the ethos of boomer shooting, the Quake series bided its time before it could make its comeback. It may not have had its reboot (yet), but Quake has finally risen from the ashes. It comes out swinging like an angry and rabid Mike Tyson, foaming at the mouth, eager to bite the ears off its competition and send it to the ultimate pit of despair.
Developer: id Software / Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: August 19th, 2021
Price: $9.99 USD
Doom is a fraudulent 3D shooter that looked advanced, but was only slightly more advanced than drawing maps out on paper. Doom is still played to this day for its fast and heavy duty weaponry, which are complimented by inventive level design. Just how could Quake improve upon Doom‘s seemingly flawless formula? By taking it to the next dimension of course.
Quake marked the beginning of true 3D graphics in video games. At the time there was almost nothing else like it. Having more than just one axis to look around in was a huge game changer for first-person shooters. Suddenly, the level design became so much more vertical and intricate with their layouts.
Quake was free of the restrictions that id Software had with their prior games. Enemies were fully 3D instead of bitmaps, and had much more complex behaviors than just sitting around, waiting to catch the player in sight. There were threats who would roam the levels on routes, and players could avoid their detection by stalking them.
It may seem quaint by 2021 standards, but it’s in its simplicity why Quake shines so brightly. The action and exploration is laser focused. Everything immediately makes sense the moment the player engages with their first threats, and realizes how fast they can move.
The weapons have a hefty and meaty feedback when firing. Shotguns have a vicious bite and the chunky, pixelated gore feels more violent thanks to all the jagged edges. The nail gun weapons do not use hit-scan, so firing them has actual nails travel through the air so that players can feel the projectiles rip the flesh upon their targets.
The distinct sound of a bouncing grenade, ping-ponging on the surfaces with impressive physics, will make gamers tense up from the impending blast. Quake‘s gameplay still impresses and stimulates, and a lot of it has to do with its responsive and slick playability that does not show its age.
The amount of invention in Quake‘s level design is shocking. Stages are rarely just corridors; they always feature many layers and hanging walkways. While the amount of hidden secret areas are no where near as many as seen in Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, Quake‘s manages to have them be less obtuse.
Having so much more 3D space to work with, Quake is a lot more creative with how it hides its goodies. For a game that is essentially one of the first of its kind, it’s mind-blowing how on point the designers were at crafting tightly paced and gripping scenarios.
The only sign of its age is Quake‘s complete disregard for any story or context. There is no opening cutscene or text crawl at all; only a few paragraphs at the end of each campaign. Some gamers may be put off by this, but in the reality of the Quake-man’s mind, he likely is only interested in killing and surviving.
One novel feature in Quake that is surprising for not appearing in more games is its approach to menus. Begin a game and Quake-man will be in a hub that can be best described as a really dank and industrial dungeon version of Peach’s Castle.
The challenge level is represented by different hallways that reflect the kind of difficulty to be had, with a fourth secret nightmare difficulty tucked away in a crevice, like Buffalo Bill’s shame. There is no explanation for any of it, yet it’s hard to imagine Quake being any other way.
The protagonist is a haggard and burly lad, who resembles a medieval Doom-man covered in tobacco stains and sweaty grime. The entire game’s aesthetics is coated in decrepit and primeval filth, and the nutritious and delicious chunky pixelated textures only make the setting take on an extra evil quality.
The textures will never look realistic, but they do make the setting have a very specific feel. Everything is abstracted just enough where the human imagination fills in the gaps and allows the player to wonder. Visuals like this are especially effective in a horror-setting, which is what Quake excels at.
Doom crossed militaristic sci-fi with grisly satanic imagery for its ambiance, and was inspired by James Cameron’s Aliens in its design. Quake opts for something completely different, that combines elements of medieval eldritch horror with industrial grunge. It’s a style that is not used often anymore, and is very much a product of late 90s nihilism.
Quake makes Doom look almost cartoonishly garish with its restrained and limited color palette. Texture patterns are varied to prevent the settings from becoming boring. Lighting became a new means to set mood and in this remaster, Quake‘s atmosphere is taken to new heights.
Quake Remastered‘s suite of improvements are numerous and welcomed. The buffet of graphical options on the PlayStation 5 version is impressive, and allows enough customization to allow everyone to tweak Quake to any preference.
Most features are standard for what most PC gamers have always enjoyed; but there are many new additions like ambient occlusion, new light maps, higher resolution textures, and even motion blur. The most surprising addition is the new and improved 3D character models that are very faithful to the originals.
The approach to the new models is very understated and restrained. Every character looks how fans would remember them, but there is more attention given to volume and effort given to making silhouettes more distinct. Most gamers may not even realize the models are new, and only when looking at them side by side would make it obvious.
Everything is here in Quake Remastered, and then some. All previously released DLC campaigns are present, and add a bit more variety to the levels so that gamers don’t always have to play in super dungeons. The DLC campaigns come with their own bosses, and also have a couple of new weapons to cause some gnarly bodily harm.
Just like with the recent classic Doom remasters, Quake Remastered supports add-ons. Quake 64 is the only extra module available at the moment, but it’s a faithful recreation of the interesting Nintendo console port. It had its own visual look to it, and had modified level design to make up for cut stages.
Quake 64 also has an entirely different soundtrack that is decent in its own right, and that is saying a lot when it’s up against Trent Reznor’s heavy, industrial ambiance. Reznor’s pounding and driving music is perfect for Quake‘s atmosphere, and flawlessly draws the gamer in. Doom‘s music was excellent, but the repeating melodies could get grating after a while while exploring.
Quake Remastered offers a lot of game for a meager $9.99 USD. It’s a dense package with a lot of content, and some new levels created by MachineGames who push Quake‘s engine to its absolute limit. The image quality is utterly slick, and is highly adjustable to please anyone and everyone.
Quake is enjoyable alone, but like everything else in life, it’s better with friends. Four-player split screen co-op play is available and online battle modes support cross play. Have friends who only game on PCs or want play with little Timmy who enjoys playing on his Nintendo Switch? Quake Remastered can bring everyone and grandma to the brawl, regardless of platform.
The attention to detail in Quake Remastered is impeccable. Old misaligned textures have finally been fixed, and some that had to be removed due to rights issues have been restored.
It may be remembered for becoming the arena multiplayer game, Quake began as an incredible successor to Doom. With Quake Remastered, gamers can finally realize just how important Quake is, and how it’s still a boomer shooter masterpiece.
Quake Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a personal copy. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.