If you’ve been following my video game theme and you’re a gamer yourself, you’ve probably been expecting this one. I mean, come on…how many games start with the letter “Q”? And besides, even if it may not be the greatest game of all time, it is definitely an influential part of video game history.
‘Quake’ was developed by ‘id Software’ and released in June of 1996 for Microsoft DOS. The first-person shooter was influenced in many ways by the wildly popular ‘Doom’, but unlike its predecessor, ‘Quake’ was the first game from ‘id Software’ to be designed with three-dimensional sprites, something that was practically unheard of at the time. This game also gave rise to many ideas that gamers take for granted today, such as client/server online play and multiplayer clans.
The basic story of the game is thus: the government, after years of experimenting in teleportation technology, has developed a working prototype called “Slipgate”. Unfortunately, beings from another dimension have compromised the device with their own teleportation technology and are using the resulting dimensional rift to send “death squads” into the human world. The enemy’s code name is “Quake”, and as a Range you, the player, are sent through a portal in order to find and stop it. The player jumps through slipgates, trying to survive and to hunt down the four rune stones that will allow for a confrontation with Quake.
Both the game’s maps and some of the bosses take a great deal of inspiration from dark fantasy author, H.P. Lovecraft, which roughly translates into the game being pretty horrifying. Here in the age of hyper-realistic graphics it’s difficult to take these claims seriously, but back in the day when ‘Quake’ had the highest-quality graphics imaginable, fear was the name of the game. The makers of this game wanted you to be terrified – a single human fighting against an army of Lovecraftian horrors. And to deepen that atmosphere a little further, amidst all the explosions and gunfire is a truly eerie soundtrack composed by Trent Reznor of ‘Nine Inch Nails’.
My own experience with Quake? I sucked at playing it. That’s basically my experience. I borrowed this game from one of my cousins after he had finished playing it, back when we had only had a computer in our house for about a year and it was still super-amazing to me to be able to play games on it. Up to that point I’d been a Nintendo girl, mostly playing RPGs on my Super Nintendo, so not only was I not exactly playing anything terribly frightening, but I was also used to playing with a controller in my hand, controlling direction with my left hand and actions with my right. Moving to a game like Quake on a PC, I was suddenly using a keyboard, swapping which hands did what, and constantly hitting the wrong buttons by accident, all while having my face practically pressed up against a screen on which disgusting monsters were constantly jumping out at me. I was a wreck playing Quake, to be honest, and I never really got the hang of playing games with a keyboard. But I will grant this: the game appealed to the same part of me that enjoyed watching ghost-hunting shows on Friday nights…the part that kinda liked getting scared out of my wits.
Have you ever played Quake? Were you creeped out by the Lovecraftian horrors? Are you a keyboard-playing master or are you a hopeless controller-player like me? Please share!
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