quake2rocketankcommander

Review – Quake 2: The Reckoning / Ground Zero

Quake: 2 The Reckoning   Quake 2:Ground Zero

Now this is obscure!  Most PC Shooter enthusiasts remember Quake 2, but I believe you will be hard pressed to find many that played it’s expansions.  There was oddly little information to be found on these titles when searching in wikis and other reviews. They don’t appear to have a metacritic score either – but that is likely due to their
age (Quake 2 doesn’t have one either).  One might say that these two expansions were forgotten to gaming history.  After playing both I found that there was a very good reason for this, there wasn’t anything of interest to remember.

Though not exactly critically acclaimed, Quake 2 was still very popular when it was released.  I had considered having a play through to catch up and refresh myself to the game, it’s mechanics and it’s story.  Then I realized that I still have 90 something games to get through and playing the same game twice would be contrary to the purpose of this website, so I dived straight into the expansions in the hope that it would refresh my memory.

It did!  Not because it made me remember the characters, story line and interesting mechanics, but instead reminded me that these don’t actually exist in Quake 2.  I can now confirm that they don’t exist in the expansions either.

However, the Quake series primary focus has always been on the shooting/combat, with every other aspect secondary.  In fact other than reacclimatizing myself to the various guns, there was nothing I needed to know.

The first expansion I played was ‘Quake 2:  Ground Zero’.  You cannot see this, but as I write I have put an asterisk next to that expansion name to check later as I’m honestly not sure that was the first one I played as both games become almost indistinguishable to memory.

*Edit:  Nope it wasn’t Ground Zero, it was The Reckoning.  The first expansion I played was ‘Quake 2:  The Reckoning’

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I intended on writing one review per game, but shortly after starting the second expansion I realised it would be pointless.  Both games are functionally Identical.  Though there are some differences, both games have the same paper thin plot, similar combat and shooting mechanics, graphical fidelity and equally boring level design.  So in the interest of efficiency I am going to write a single review for both, and occasionally mention how they differ.
Where I am not making a direct comparison, the points being made will refer to both games.  Come to think of it, since I won’t be reviewing the original ‘Quake 2’ (as it’s not on my ‘to play’ list) you can consider this review to be inclusive of that game also.

Load up marine…

First off, the installation process.  It was fine for the most part.  Nothing would happen when I tried to launch the game initially but a quick forum search revealed that the game needs to be run in compatibility mode (for Windows 7).  When I say ‘game’ I mean Quake 2, as the expansions are using the original Quake 2 as a framework, all the issues you would have had with Quake 2 filter down to its expansions.  The main ‘q2.exe’ launch file had to be run in compatibility mode, meaning both expansions requested administrator permissions on launch.

Both games would also switch to windowed mode if the resolution was set too high, so it had to lowered considerably before being able to run in full screen.

These were the only real problems I had with getting the game running.  Though I do believe that these problems are unacceptable no matter the game (an after purchase patch by the community shouldn’t count) I am not going to complain too much, not after experiencing the enraging frustration that GTA San Andreas was to get running. I am going to give Quake 2 a pass.  I had the game up and running, and I was eager to get started.

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Pull my finger…

Everything is brown.  It was oddly noticeable, but strangely difficult to put a finger on.  I  can see that the sky is alien red, my gun is metal grey, the enemies wearing black armour and  have skin coloured flesh, but at the same time they are all somehow brown.  It was the strangest thing.  The screenshots here should give an idea.  It’s as if the game was designed and coloured  naturally, but a decision was made at the last minute to overlay everything with a brown filter.  Say what you will about how brown can be a suitable colour scheme in some context but you would rarely describe it as  exciting.

For the most part this doesn’t interfere with game play, however it does add to another more obvious problem, and that is that the levels are exceptionally bland.  I don’t exaggerate when I say that around 90 percent of the all of these games have you fighting through warehouses littered with crates and lifts.  There is the odd change where you may go outside, or enter a mine or cave, but these are exceptions.  Towards the end of ‘The Reckoning’ you are aboard a spaceship, but it still manages to look like a warehouse, just with a more silver colour scheme. This added with the ever present brown affect makes most levels indistinguishable from each other.

Getting lost in levels was rare, but when I did lose my way the sameness of every corner and colour would make it difficult to know where to go.   I’m having trouble in remembering which level belonged to which game.  If someone were to cut one level of one expansion and insert it into the other, you would genuinely not be able to tell the difference.  ‘Ground Zero’ did try to give some of  the levels more of theme (such as a mine and a docking station) but they still ended up looking like factories and warehouses.

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Your motivation for progressing through these levels are not exactly imaginative either.  You will get an objective which (in typical Id software FPS fashion) will involve pushing a button.  Sometimes it may be killing a boss, or finding a key, but ultimately you will go to a place, kill everything and interact with something to get the next objective
I use the term ‘interact’ in the loosest of senses.  There is no interact key, you simply walk into a thing.  To push a button you walk into it. To pick up a key card or enemy head, you walk into it.  To pick up a power device you walk into it and to then place said device into the correct area to generate power and open doors… you walk into it.  The objectives are an excuse to go from one point of the level to another.  After you have reached every area you will have roughly killed all enemies and be allowed to progress to the next map.

Speaking of enemies…

I hesitate to use the word ‘stupid’, as it can’t really apply to programmed robot alien monsters, so maybe, as with real life, the term ‘misguided’ would be more
appropriate.  Other than reliably turning aggressive when detecting you, all other enemy behaviour is simply bizarre, and usually contrary to their own survival.  Some examples may help:

Some enemies will duck when being shot at.  This in itself would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact that they don’t actually duck behind anything.  They simply stop firing and crouch.  You could be firing a steady  stream of lasers at an enemy, who then will stop shooting to duck below your shots… at which point you can simply lower your aim and continue to unload at the now non-moving target that is not firing back.  I can imagine that this was initially implemented as a show case for the A.I, but just turns a ‘smart’ enemy into a sitting duck.

Enemies at a distance also seem to have an issue with concocting combat strategies.  If an enemy spots you from a distance and has no way to reach you (such as being on the other side of a broken bridge or yet unreachable platform) then sometimes it will pace left and right in confusion trying to find a path to get to you.  Keep in mind that these are enemies with guns, designed to shoot projectiles from a distance, such as this exact situation.

One particular enemy type called a ‘Gunner’ fires a stream of about 4 or 5 grenades at a time.  A fairly common (and usually challenging) enemy in Quake 2 and both expansions.  In ‘Ground Zero’ Gunners appear to lose a lot of awareness of their surroundings.  If it begins to fire and you move behind a wall or corner, it will happily continue to launch grenades directly into that wall/corner (that you are now behind) and  have them rebound and explode in its face.
If it catches you up close by surprise, it occasionally won’t use its secondary weapon (a Machinegun), but will instead fire it’s grenades point blank, exploding on impact doing damage to both you and it.  I had seen this enemy kill itself multiple times due to the
above issues.

quake2unalertgunner

Ultimately the enemies have two modes, attack or not.  The will remain stationary or on a very short patrol while they don’t detect you, or full on attack and charge when they do.

The will do this regardless of what weapon they wield.  For example, the enemy type called the ‘Gladiator’, carries a Railgun – a long distance, powerful, sniper-rifle type weapon.  When attacking, they will fire and start to charge – ignoring that they have a long range weapon that has perfect accuracy regardless of distance.  They will shoot, advance towards you, shoot, repeat until they are close enough to melee, because that is somehow more effective.  There is little or no awareness by the enemies

on how use to the weapons they are carrying for the situations that they are in.

Both expansions introduce new enemies, but it is a very token attempt.  Almost all of the enemies in ‘Quake 2’ make an appearance in both expansions.
In ‘The Reckoning’ there is a new enemy that isn’t part of the normal Strogg alien force, but an animal that occupies swamp and cave areas.  It is a generic ‘game monster’ that jumps at you or, fires a projectile until it gets close enough to jump at you.  The only notable thing about it was that (for reasons unexplained) it’s corpse would explode moments after death.  This did not happen each time either and appeared random.   I don’t remember this doing any actual damage to my character, even when the corpse exploded at point blank.
The only other additions were variants of the default enemies that had higher health and stronger weapons.  This caused a bit of a problem when trying to assess the threat, as you can’t tell the difference between a standard, very weak and easily killed grunt or the much more dangerous alternate version until it had literally fired at you.  This caused me to alter my tactic slightly and prioritize these enemies.

The ‘Ground Zero’ expansion introduced only one new enemy (excluding the final boss) which was a spider like robot enemy called a ‘Stalker’ which was about the size of a dog.  This filled the spot of the standard difficult to hit, small, frustrating enemy that every game just has to have.  It jumps from floor to ceiling and will also feign death.  So every time I killed it I had to fire a few more rounds into it to gib the corpse.
Ultimately the new enemies do not introduce any new mechanics or strategy.  They are just a different types of aliens to dodge, shoot, reverse to safety and repeat.

There was one more …obstacle I wanted to mention in ‘Ground Zero’.  I hesitate to call it an enemy as it is a gun turret.  Initially challenging, these shortly became frustrating and the technique to deal with them rendered their existence completely pointless.
You see, in almost every situation you will not spot them until they have opened fire.  They either blend into the murky grey/brown walls, or just outright transport in from near invisible hiding places.  One such place would be above the door you just walked through (inevitably shooting you in the back) or a distant corner which is incredibly difficult to see.
There is virtually no way to adapt.  The turret will fire lasers or rockets immediately when you come into their view.  You will usually only realise they are there after a considerable amount of your health has been taken.  You could potentially avoid them by creeping slowly everywhere, but  creeping isn’t something that you will be inclined to do when 90 percent of the rest of the game is running and shooting.
Eventually you learn how to deal with them in the safest way, which turns the process into a complete chore
Step 1:  Walk into a room and find the turret.  This is easiest after it has shot you.
Step 2:  Reload in frustration because your health has dropped 20-40 percent in that moment
Step 3:  Newly informed of its location, slowly, step around a protective corner until a fraction of the turret is exposed to your view.  This can be just the edge.  The goal is for you to be able to see it and for it to not be able to see you.
Step 4:  Pull out your hand pistol, of which the rate of fire is slow, your damage minor but the ammo infinite.  It is also the only gun that can make the angle around corners.  Aim so your gun (not the cross hair) is pointing at the sliver of exposed turret metal.
Step 5:  Hold down fire for about 10 painful seconds until you see it explode.  You will know that you are hitting it by the blue sparks that fly.

quake2turrent3

It’s such a jarring interruption to the flow of the game.  I’m surprised it passed play testing because its infuriatingly incongruous to the pace of the rest of the game.  You could be enjoying the fast paced shooting action only have to stop and perform the above process to continue without considerable damage to your health.  You can try strafing in and out of the corner, but the bullets fly so fast and are inconsistently timed, that it is difficult to avoid taking damage.  I must have spent a total of 20-30 minutes going through this chore.  This is a considerable percentage of frustration to a game that is 4-5 hours long.

Pew, Pew….Bang

It’s probably best to move onto something more positive.  The gun/shooting mechanics would be one of the few aspects that I would consider outright fun. The majority of the praise will probably be here.  So I think it’s best to just get right into it and go through the joys of each weapon.

From the beginning you have a basic pistol called a ‘Blaster’ that shoots energy bullets.  Ninety percent of the time this weapon is useless.  Its weak, it has a poor firing

rate and each bullet has slow travel time.  The other 10 % of the time it’s a magical ammo saving wand of hope.  A more appropriate name would be the exploit gun because the only time I used it was when an enemy was in a position to not be able to hit me, but I could hit it.  See the aforementioned turret section.

This was also used when enemies got confused and ran left and right (also mentioned above), just hold fire at a point in the enemies path and they would eventually run into your bullets until dead.  Also useful for enemies stuck behind crates, behind ladders or just so far that by the time they reached you they would have absorbed so many of your shots that they would collapse at your feet.

It consumes no ammo, so it’s usefulness is as long lasting as your patience.  I’m pretty sure that given enough thought and knowledge of enemy A.I and movements, you
could kill all enemies and bosses with this gun.  At one point I encountered a massive Tank commander.  A boss type enemy in a courtyard.  As long as I stayed by the entrance hallway (of which the boss could not fit) I was able to step in and out of cover, popping away with my default pistol.  Eventually I got bored and switched to better weapons, but I could have easily killed this boss without spending any ammo or losing any health.  The developers appear to have completely forgotten about this gun.  It manages to be both the weakest, and most over powered weapon in the game.

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Shortly into the first level of each game you will pick up the the Shotgun.  It does moderate damage up close and even a noticeable amount damage afar.  It’s got a meaty sounding blast and can be used in most situations (though too weak for higher tier enemies).  It’s a weapon that you would use for unknown situations, as it’s suitable for most.  You won’t use it though, because as soon as you get the Super Shotgun (double barrelled) you won’t be going back.  Shotgun ammo is so plentiful after the first couple of missions that you won’t worry about conserving ammo or restricting yourself to a single barrel shot gun like some sort of pacifist.

The impact of the Super Shotgun feels like god stamping out a volcano.  It’s loud, causes high damage, and instantly explodes weaker enemies.  It’s practically useless at a distance and will eventually be relegated to a fall back weapon to conserve ammo, but every so often you will enjoy the intensity of running fully exposed towards a large dangerous enemy,  jamming both barrels into its mid-section, pulling the trigger and quickly running back to cover.

The Machinegun is also obtained shortly into the game and is one of the more ridiculous weapons.  It’s accurate for precisely 2 shots before your aiming at the ceiling from the laughable recoil, however it makes up for its ridiculous recoil with its power.  At point blank you can shred apart enemies quickly and the thud sound of the bullets certainly give it the feel of having stopping power.  It will make quick work of medium to weak enemies.

Next in line to the Machinegun is the Chaingun.  It’s only similarity to the Machinegun is that it shares ammunition.  If it wasn’t for the limited ammo available this gun would seem like some sort of cheat weapon.  It’s shots are as powerful as the Machinegun but the rate of fire is mind blowing and it has no recoil!  It’s the most representatively phallic weapon in the game.  Hold down the fire button for 5 seconds and you will find your load spent, the room silent, and nothing but the liquidised remains of your enemies pooled on the floor.  It’s over quick but it’s a very intense experience.  I wasn’t joking about the 5 seconds it takes to deplete all the bullets either – it carries 300 rounds and holding fire for a second too long will have you unintentionally spending 50 more bullets.  It’s mechanical spinning and firing sound is absolute chaos and when used with a damage bonus power up (more on those later), it becomes unstoppable.

quake2chaingun

Sorry this usually doesn’t happen…..

Things tend to calm down as you scroll your way through the weapons with the Grenade Launcher.  Initially you can throw grenades by hand, but when you pick up the launcher you can simply fire them.  This weapon is quite different to the others in the sense that its very situational.  Most other weapons could (arguably) be used at any time, but the Grenade Launcher requires a bit more thinking.  It lobs grenades more than fires them.  It isn’t as immediately satisfying to use (unless you hit an enemy directly) as there is no immediate impact or explosion.  The grenades will bounce off walls and come to a rest, exploding shortly afterwards.  These are more for clearing out inaccessible parts or for taking out enemies in small spaces (preferably from a distance) or around corners.  Though used less frequently than most other weapons, there is unique pleasure in hearing the sound of an enemy being splattered to pieces a few seconds after sending a handful of grenades around a corner that you weren’t sure was safe.

The Rocket Launcher is quite classical and pretty much what you would expect.  It is a fierce looking weapon that does high impact and splash damage.  It never seems to do as much damage as it feels like, but is a considerable weapon that will make you giggle every time you splatter apart 3 enemies with one well placed shot.

The Railgun is a long range, instant hit weapon that has a very slow rate of fire but causes high damage.  The strategy lies in how long you are willing to expose yourself to enemy fire while lining up a perfect shot.  A lot of tension can come from lining the sights on an enemy while rockets are flying
towards you, hoping to get your shot off and get out of the way before taking a possibly fatal hit.  Many moments of satisfaction can come with this gun as you just hit fire and not realising you’ve hit the target until a second later when it’s either collapsed or exploded.

The Hyperblaster could really be considered the ‘final’ weapon.  The BFG10K is there but this is so rarely used you often forget you have it.  The Hyperblaster fires needle like laser shots at the enemy.  As with the Chaingun you can quickly go through ammo but the Hyperblasters fire rate is far more controllable.  The ammo is extremely powerful and will mutilate the weaker and medium strength enemies in just a few shots.  It has no splash damage and is useful for any situation.  Bullets fly straight over long distances quickly without losing any power.  It has a spinning nozzle that makes an electric buzzing sound when fired that makes you feel like you’re more melting enemies then shooting them.  This can be often true as by the time you finish shooting most enemies will have been reduced to a heap on the floor.

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Conversely the BFG10K isn’t interesting at all.  Though technically the most powerful weapon on a shot per shot basis, each shot takes about 3 seconds to fully load.  It uses the same ammo as the Hyperblaster but takes 50 cells a shot.  The projectile is a large green Orb that soars through the air doing high damage to everything it passes.  The problem is that by the time the shot is aimed, loaded and fired, the enemy will have likely moved out of the way.   Making a direct hit was always difficult so it was rare to inflict full damage.  I almost only ever used it on the final bosses (which were too big to miss).

The new stuff

For those of you that have played ‘Quake 2’ you will probably recognise all of the weapons mentioned above were in the original game.  They are still the meat and bones of the expansions even though more weapons were introduced.

In ‘The Reckoning’ you are given some alternative weapons which are selected with a second press of the weapon slot key.  There is a gun (called the ‘Ion Ripper’) that shoots circular blades in a straight line that will ricochet off walls.  I think the idea behind it was to fire a succession of blades into a small space and let them clear out a room, however the travel speed of the blades is slow as well as the rate of fire rate, so as with the BFG10K you will find that the enemies can easily move out of the way.  The blades ricocheting off the walls was also as likely to damage you as it was the enemies.

A weapon called the ‘Phalanx Particle Cannon’ was introduced, which was alternative  of the Railgun but used different ammunition.  It would fire two rocket-like projectiles at once.  One slightly to left of where you aimed and the other slightly to the right.  Even though I usually had lots of ammo for it, I never found that I used it often.  Sometimes I would switch to it when I didn’t want to spend much of the ammo of existing weapons, or when there was a particular meaty enemies that could take a lot of damage.

‘Ground Zero’ Introduced the ‘ETF Rifle’.  This is essentially the Nailgun from the first quake game.  It rapid fired Fletchettes.  Essentially a weaker version of the Hyperblaster which I only used as a back up.
It also introduced a new thrown weapon.  You would throw one mine like device on the ground and then a second, at which point a beam of light would connect between the two and damage any enemy that touched it.  The problem was that it required too much thought and not enough pay off.  It was usually quicker and more efficient to just shoot them.

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The additional weapons don’t offer anything new other than a different thing to shoot at an enemy.  The original ‘Quake 2’ weapons are more effective at their purpose and these new guns just felt like fallback weapons.  There are a few other weapons introduced to these expansions which I have not mentioned, but as with the others, they offer nothing new mechanically and you’ll probably spend most of the time using the original weapons.

Power ups can be found and held in the inventory and used when needed (as opposed used when walked on).  This may seem handy but in reality meant I rarely used them.  Toggling through the icons with the bracket ‘[‘ ‘]’ keys was just too interrupting to game play.  You needed to stop what you’re doing with one hand (so either moving or aiming) that I just didn’t bother.  On the normal difficulty setting there was no challenge that couldn’t be beat by shooting it in the face and ammo and armour never got too scarce.

Most power ups are oddly useless too.  There was an environmental suit, but very little toxic water areas. Those that did exist didn’t required very little time to get through, so damage was minimal.  Other hazardous area’s may have had hidden ammo but again these weren’t so vital that you need to go out of your way to get them.

There’s also a silencer power up which I’m not sure wasn’t a joke.  At no point are you encouraged to stealth, nor are there any obvious advantages to do so.

The only power up I really cared for was the damage increasing one, one for double damage, and another for quadruple damage, and even then I didn’t use them until the final bosses.  These mixed with the powerful weapons and abundance of ammo essentially made the final encounters trivial.

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The Plot

I haven’t said much about the storyline because there is nothing of interest to say.  I’m sure there’s a point behind it all, such as a last push on the alien home world, but it’s given the barest of references in the game.  I’m fairly certain that everyone of these games begins with your space pod going off course and crashing, leaving you alone to fight against the Strogg.  Each game begins with the wreckage of your space pod behind you.  From that point you receive objectives which as I have mentioned, involves walking into things.  If it wasn’t for the odd distorted military comm chatter, you would think that you were the only sentient being in existence.
There are no conversations to eavesdrop on,  no flavour text or any aftermath area’s which tell a story.    Human bodies can be found next to weapons and the odd wandering insane soldier mumbling and screaming, but nothing that really explains anything or gives insight

A surprising objective that I obtained was one that required me rendezvous with another soldier and follow their lead.  For a moment I was foolishly hopeful, believing that for this expansion (Ground Zero) they may have actually created a friendly NPC to which I could fight alongside.  When arriving at the rendezvous point I was greeted by the soldier’s pod soaring through the air, crashing into a wall to immediately explode.  The crater provided the access point of the next area.  My objective window beeped telling me I had to proceed with the soldier’s mission.   Onwards to more warehouses and aliens then.  They teased a better game.

Ultimately this game is about guns and which one to use in a given situation, keeping an eye on ammo and when to take the occasional risk.
You don’t fight enemies as much as you do their guns.  Knowing how much time you have to pop out and fire depends on what the enemy is shooting.  If an enemy has a Grenade Launcher then you will want to exit the low ground or get behind a few corners.  When they have a Railgun you will need to keep moving so the enemy get a fix on you.  Rockets have travel time so you may risk being in the open to avoid splash damage.
It is these mechanics that keep the game interesting (for me at least).  The audio and visual feedback of your weapons and the resulting damage to enemies is where the majority of satisfaction lies and this is probably what will keep you going to the finish on each of these games.

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To begin to wrap up I would say this game series has high technical competence but no inspiration or risk taking will.
To elaborate:  The game is very well made.  Other than the resolution and compatibility issues at the beginning, I ran into no other issues while running the game.  Steam messed up the Cloud saves at one point, but I believe that to be Steams fault and not the game’s.
Id Software certainly know how to make a game engine and it shows here.  No blue screens, no crashes, no frame drops(that I could notice), pretty much smooth sailing.   It is quite robust and one factor that I really liked was that you could immediately load up a game as soon as the client started.  You didn’t even have to wait until the first splash screen to finish.  As soon as it began I could hit ‘F9’ and be in the game.  No menus, no logos or adds.  Just click the desktop icon and as soon as the image shows, quick load and you’re in.  I appreciate that the Quake 2 engine doesn’t exactly
require a powerful machine, but it would be great to see such stability in modern games.

I forgot to mention, this game has no music.  Well, the version I played anyway.  This is probably because it was digitally downloaded on Steam, whereas the original games would play the tracks from the CD’s.  Apparently there is a way to get a mod or file that will patch this but to be honest, I pretty much forgot about it as soon as I started into the game.  This may be a big factor for people so I felt it important to mention.  I found the ambient noises and sound effects to be mood setting enough.  Apparently, the sound track is supposed to be great, but I’m not sure how drastically it would enhance the experience.  Still, I can fully understand why this would be worth complaining about.

On the other hand, creativity seems to have been thrown out the window.  Enemies are shapes and that’s all.  Don’t get me wrong, they are well designed – in that they are quickly identifiable from their shape so you can instantly evaluate the threat, but all are bland variations of the ‘cyborg alien’ theme.
The story defines generic.  Aliens bad, shoot them.  Objectives are lazy, token excuses to get from point A to B and the locations are variation of brown warehouses and boxy computer rooms.
Enemies seem to have no active jobs for the most part and are just placed in rooms at unfairly hidden places waiting for you.  The aliens must have warehouses for a reason, why are they at least not carrying something?

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A part of Quake 2’s history is that it was the first Id game that was made after John Romero left the company.  Romero was considered the creative mind behind Id and with Quake 2, it certainly shows.
One example that backs us this theory was when I was playing the first ‘Quake’ a few months ago.  A power up you can collect was a ring that turns you invisible.  Before you shout ‘Lord of the Rings’ – which it does rip off (including the demonic voice in the background when wearing), it also had a slight drawback.  Your eyeballs would remain visible as two horrific floating orbs.  This greatly appealed to the nerd in me.  If you look into superpowers or science fiction, invisibility can’t work if your eyes are invisible – Light would go straight through them as opposed to bouncing off your rods and cones and receptors.  You would be unable to see.  I found the humour in this and it also enhanced game play – even when invisible you had to be careful to not get too close for them to see your eyeballs.
This is the quirky creativity missing in ‘Quake 2’ and it’s expansions.  Power ups are power, armour and a silencer for the most part with not much fun to be had.  There is also an over reliance on pop up enemies – ones that are hidden in difficult to see corners and behind boxes.  Other enemies will even just pop out of hidden doors in walls, sometimes behind you giving you little chance or warning to avoid the first hit.

In ‘Quake’ the final boss was a horrific demi-god organic mass that had to be killed via teleporting into through the use of a portal and good timing, and only after you had blasted through a wave of the toughest enemies with dangerously little ammo.

In ‘Quake 2’ and both expansions, the end bosses are almost identical in tactics.  Shoot until armour falls off, then shoot it again until dead.  This is slightly changed in ‘Ground Zero’ whereby you first kill one boss, then a second bigger version comes out for you to kill.  Essentially it is the same 2 stage fight but with 2 enemies instead of one.

Each expansion was created by a different company, Xatrix made ‘The Reckoning’ and Rogue entertainment made ‘Ground Zero’ and it’s amazing how little diversity there is between them.  This seems to reinforce the idea of there being no imagination in the creation of ‘Quake 2’.  The source material was probably so dull that nothing much be done with it.

As negative as this review seems, I did have some fun, mainly in the sheer visceral catharsis in using heavy weapons to fight aliens.  The shooting and combat are competent and satisfying and (aside for a few AI glitches) will be what keeps you coming back.
You will likely not play for long stretches at a time as there is no real story to keep you going, but that’s fine too as you can come back to the game after any length of absence and pick up where you left off without a second thought.  The game rarely gets too confusing, as it’s pretty linear.  If you come across and enemy that is alive, then that is the right direction.

This game is a straight shooter that has little concern for anything else.  It’s not bad, but it is exceptionally forgettable.  These ‘Quake 2’ series of games may be fun to fill some time if your list of unplayed games has run dry.