I’ve been very open about the fact that if you remake a classic game, you need to update it to modern standards (my reviews of the Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 remakes speak for themselves). But I’ve apparently found the exception with the 2021 Enhanced Re-Release version of the sci-fi first-person shooter Quake (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, PC), which is mostly just a better looking version of an old game, but adds something new (maybe two) that makes it worth buying…especially at this game’s low price.
Originally released in 1996,
Quake has an evil entity from another dimension, called Quake, who uses portals to send his soldiers into our dimension to see what kind of resistance they face, so he can best plan his invasion. But rather than be nice, and tell him what he wants to know, you decide to be difficult and shoot, stab, and blow-up his soldiers. You jerk.
The spiritual successor to Doom (the 1993 original, not the 2016 reboot), Quake is, gameplay-wise, basically Doom but without the Hell-ish vacations. You still side around like you just got new socks and had the floors waxed (while dealing with the natural inertia involved); you still spend most of your time trying to turn enemies into chunks, and part of your time trying to find the keys that open locked doors; and while the game is still somewhat shallow (there’s no customization, no leveling up system), it’s actually this simplicity, and focus on frantic gunfights, that made the original — and thus this remake — so much fun. Yeah, sure, it’s mindless fun, but it’s also frantic fun and nicely varied fun and 86 other kinds of fun I could list but won’t because there’s more to talk about.
Like, for instance, how this “Enhanced Re-Release” version of Quake comes courtesy of MachineGames, the good people who previously made the Wolfenstein games New Order, Old Blood, New Colossus, Youngblood, and Cyberpilot, and, more importantly, the Quake add-on “Dimension Of The Past,” which was released in 2016 in honor of the game’s 20th birthday.
Not surprisingly, “Dimension Of The Past” is included in this new version of Quake. Though it’s the other thing they added that makes it worth spending $10.00 on this even if you’ve played this game twice a year, every year since it came out: “Dimension Of The Machine,” a totally new expansion that, well, plays like classic Quake. While it has all-new levels full of enemies to frag, it also has the same gameplay mechanics as the main game and the other add-ons, which makes it feel like a lost classic from back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just Howard The Duck.
Oh, and yes,
the game $10.00 price tag does make a big difference. As fun as “Dimension Of The Machine” may be, it’s decidedly $10.00’s worth of fun, not $60.00 worth.
Of course, that value increases if you didn’t play “Dimension Of The Past.” And then again if you missed the two expansions they added back in the day, “Scourge Of Armagon” and “Dissolution Of Eternity,” in which case this feels like two Quakes in one.
And that’s just if you play this on your own. The 2021 Enhanced Re-Released Edition of Quake also adds some fun stuff for people who like to play online. Specifically, cross-play. Unlike previous versions of the game, this will let you play with all your friends, even if they’re “Xbox 4 Lyfe” kind of people and you’re a PlayStation Purist. You can even, if you so desire, play the campaign co-op with up to four people, or play competitive multiplayer with 8 people online or 4 people local split-screen, and take advantage of the dedicated serves they’ve allotted.
The 2021 Enhanced Re-Released Edition of Quake has also, not surprisingly, gotten some technical upgrades. While the visuals have the same blocky look they’ve had since President Bill Clinton was in his first term, they look cleaner now, and are not only upgraded to HD, but support 4K as well.
Quake also sounds better than most,
as this version has the original soundtrack by nine inch nails that’s often been left out of previous reissues. And yes, that does mean the “n.i.n.” boxes of nails are back, too.
Of course, by being such a (relatively) faithful remake, this version of Quake does have the same problems this game has had since, well, nine inch nails’ Trent Reznor assembled the soundtrack to Lost Highway. The game’s camera still has a slight fish eye lense-like curve at the edges, which you really notice if you turn quickly (as if you would ever want to suddenly turn around during a frantic fire fight). Similarly, the collision detection is still rather liberal. Not only will shotguns work from rather far away, but enemies can also smack you when they’re clearly out of smacking distance.
But since, as I said, those problems have been part of the Quake experience since, uh, the Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64 were released (and yes, all three did come out the same week). Which means they probably won’t bother anyone who’s played this before. And even then, they’ll probably be more bothered by the retro graphics or the lack of iron sights or the inability to use money you find lying around to purchase upgrades for your weapons or armor.
But for the rest of us
— i.e., people who appreciate ’90s games or, in my case, actually remember 1996 — the 2021 Enhanced Re-Released Edition of Quake is not just a fun nostalgia trip, it’s a chance to experience something that’s both new and old but entirely classic.