Our Salute To "The Father Of Awesomeness"
We've had this date from the beginning. Seeing as we waxed lyrical about Quake during our latest PWNcast and nominated it as the classic FPS we'd most like a direct sequel to, it's only fitting that we feature id Software's seminal shooter as this week's Blast From The Past.
And what a blast it was. Our pursuit of a depraved warlord through a terrifying realm of bleeding-edge science and Cyclopean magic left us breathless and gobsmacked, scarecely believing that videogames could deliver something so brutally visceral, so uncompromisingly real. Quake still stands tall as a timeless, brutal and sensational gaming experience, and its influence is still keenly felt today.
Indeed, while id Software consider Doom to be "the daddy" of FPS games, they affectionately refer to Quake as "the father of awesomeness." Talking us through their venerable history at last year's Eurogamer Expo, art director Tim Willits explained that Quake both invented and defined the FPS as we know it today. Wolfenstein and Doom laid the groundwork with the basic premise, but Quake made the leap from two to three dimensions, setting an unprecedented benchmark in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Its squalid, gothic environments were phenomenally atmospheric and seemed frighteningly real, bolstered by revolutionary high-fidelity sound design and a Nine Inch Nails soundtrack. The nightmarish enemies - from the relentless Fiends to the hulking, unstoppable shamblers - resembled our nightmares made flesh (well, polygons at least), the products of id's deliciously warped imagination. It honed deatmatches and team gametypes into their familiar forms, and players joined together into the very first clans. Speedruns were waged and documented, while edited demos eventually evolved into the concept of machninima.
And mouselook? That's Quake, right there. Popping "+mlook" into the console allowed us to manipulate the horizontal and vertical view by moving the mouse, a wild and crazy idea that eventually caught on. We'd never seen anything remotely like it before, and thanks to id Software's shareware policy, few gamers hadn't at least faced off against Chthon in his lava-filled demesne.
For such a self-assured and influential title, though, it's interesting that Quake's development was tumultuous to the extreme. John Romero (you know, him of Daikitana infamy) wanted id Software to make a medieval hack & slash title, whereas American McGee and Willits desired a futuristic aesthetic. The result, of course, was the bizarre and brilliant fusion of Cyberpunk and H.P. Lovecraft, a world where hell and high technology fused into an single cohesive realm. Where machines, profane chapels, mud, blood and flesh all delighted and disgusted in equal measure. It was rather brown, admittedly, but incredibly immersive and uniquely memorable nonetheless.
But that's enough pretentious wittering. Would you like to know why I remember Quake so fondly? Why I complete it every year? Why I want a true sequel or remake so badly that I sacrifice copies of Quake IV on my John Carmack-shaped altar when the stars are right, feverishly chanting "Shub-Niggurath Fhtagn!' while writhing naked in paroxysms of ecstasy? [This isn't true. Is it? Jon? - Ed]
Why? Because it was f*cking awesome.
I've tried to find a sightly more professional (and less potentially offensive) way of saying it, but playing Quake still regresses me into the same gobsmacked greenhorn who jumped out of his chair every time he heard the teleport sound. Shub Niggurath's hordes scare me half to death, yet the visceral action and brutal weaponry make me yelp and scream with delight as I gleefully reduce dozens of ravening foes into piles of chunky kibbles with the grenade launcher. The lightning gun crackles with barely restrained power, scything through enemies like a hot knife through... enemies. My axe thirsts for the blood of countless abominations, and always drinks its fill. I freely admit that this sounds a tad psychopathic (don't worry, I'm perfectly capable of distinguishing dark fantasy from boring reality), but id Software has always been able to create shooters of such incredible intensity that even the most jaded gamer can enjoy the raw thrill of unbridled, glorious catharsis. Well, arguably until RAGE, that is.
So will we ever get the Quake sequel/remake of our dreams? It's not likely... but not impossible either. We couldn't help directly posing the question to Tim Willits last year, and we received an intriguing answer.
Ah...you never know. Quake definitely has an identity crisis to it. Each one has a different appeal, I mean the first one was just crazy, over the top...man I have no idea what we were doing back then. But yeah...maybe someday, that’d be fun.'
Someday can't come soon enough, Tim.
Besides, Quake (the antagonist) has to die. We've murdered his lieutenants. We've butchered Armagon and his pet dragon. For the love of Lovecraft, id Software, let us finish the job.