[TGA 2022] ‘Remnant II’ Announced for Consoles and PC in 2023 [Trailer]

Horror

Much like Doom 2 was to Doom, how do you follow up the mega success that was Quake? The obvious answer was Quake II, but there’s a little more to it than that. Long-time id Software member John Romero had departed the company, along with many of the staff who had worked on the first game. As such, you could say that the team was given the opportunity to try something new. That opportunity resulted in Quake II being Aliens when compared to the original Alien: bigger, more fun, and just as memorable as the original after 25 years.

The story for Quake II is separate from the previous game’s story. In Quake II, Earth is in a battle against an alien race known as the Strogg. You are a Marine named Bitterman taking part in a mission known as “Operation Alien Overlord”. The mission is to prevent a Strogg invasion of Earth by launching a pre-emptive attack against their home planet, Stroggos. Previous attempts to send Marines to the planet resulted in them being captured or killed as soon as they reached the planned landing zone. Fortunately, you survive the entry to Stroggos due to another Marine’s personal capsule collided with yours, causing you to crash outside of the landing zone. Exiting your capsule, you head into the Strogg city, blaster in hand.

Looking back, Quake‘s development was a bit of a mess. Having to salvage the idea of a dark fantasy RPG and turning it into a first-person shooter led to frictions within id, and resulting in Romero’s departure. Quake II had sort of followed in its footsteps, having started out as something else, but eventually having the “Quake” name attached to it. Aside form that, the development was far smoother. That was just the start of one of the differences between Quake II and its predecessor.

With Quake II, gone was the hub world and episodic nature of the levels, and in their place was a much more mission-driven story and less linear level structure. No longer were you searching for keys to open doors to progress. You had objectives like destroying the Strogg security grid, realigning satellite dishes, and so on. And while it’s not comparable to something as engrossing as other video game stories of the day (it’s still a first-person shooter, after all), you did have something that was far better than than what the original game offered. The Gothic horror and Lovecraftian overtones of the original have been left behind for a more sci-fi action horror epic, and really, that’s still very much okay. The Strogg are a concoction of biomechanical monstrosities that harvest human soldiers to add to their own ranks, which is just as chilling as any cosmic horror.

Alongside their formidable appearance, it was the smaller touches added to the Strogg that gave Quake II much more appeal. Along with providing each enemy type with different AI tendencies and patterns, you also had some Strogg be able to duck under your shots or run and hide to regroup, requiring you to have some strategy while making your way through levels. They also had idling animations that provided more personality. Overall, you also had far more variety in enemy types than in Quake II, which displayed the fusion of flesh and machine in rather gruesome details. For example, the Parasite would attach a “tongue” to you and start draining your energy, and wouldn’t let go until you killed it. Or the Berserker that always seemed to be positioned behind doors to surprise you, yelling “Trespasser!” before running after you relentlessly to attempt to stab and hammer you to death.

To add even more of an aesthetic touch to the Strogg, you now had damage states depending on the amount of damage you had dealt, resulting in them looking progressively more bloodied. You also had enemies that would have a “last ditch” death animation, such as a Guard firing off a few rounds at you before collapsing. You could solve that easily by turning enemies into bloody chunks before they got the chance, which was satisfying for the hell you were put though.

Obviously, much of these enhancements found in the engine were thanks to John Carmack, who once again proved himself a genius in the programming department. The Quake II engine not only had the ability to push more polygons, but also render far more colours than its grimly dark predecessor. Though to be fair, years before Gears of War hit the scene, Quake II provided ample shades of brown throughout its palette, which looking back now, looks washed out. Still, we were in awe, and fancy new things like coloured lighting helped to spice things up. And much like what PlayStation fans experienced with 3d games, Quake II had its own graphical “warbling” effect, which was something of an endearing feature for the engine.

It was a foregone conclusion that with the additions to the engine, Quake II‘s gameplay would also see a boost. You still had the fast-paced action of the original, but it was combined with the previously-mentioned AI enhancements, as well as some hefty new hardware for you to combat the Strogg. You still had beefy holdovers like the Shotgun, Super Shotgun, Grenade and Rocket Launcher, but you also now had things like the Chaingun (hello, Doom!), the Hyperblaster that could be considered the laser version of the Chaingun, and what was considered the first appearance in a 3d shooter (and a fan favourite), the Rail Gun . What made the Rail Gun so beloved (aside from dealing so much damage) was the fact that it could penetrate multiple enemies, requiring you to line up multiple Strogg in a line before letting it rip. It also made multiplayer a lot of fun for that fact. The aiming and firing rate took a bit of time to get used to, but once you nailed it, you had what many consider the best weapon in the game.

And seeing as we already had a Chaingun, why not have a BFG? The BFG 10k is pretty much the ultimate weapon as its predecessor was in Doom, but like the BFG 9000, you had to be aware of the slow reload times and brief moment of vulnerability after firing it in order for you to not be put down yourself. Oh, and Quake II‘s final boss in Makron? He also sports a BFG, only his version has no charge up time, and can fire multiple blasts within seconds of each shot.

Wrapping it all up was the game’s soundtrack, which did not have Trent Reznor handling things. That’s quite alright, since Sonic Mayhem were more than up for the task at hand. Rather than the original’s ambient industrial sound that evoked feelings of dread, Quake II‘s soundtrack is just straight up metal, giving you a similar psyched-up feeling that you got with Doom‘s soundtrack, perfectly matching up with the gameplay.

And it’d be against the law if Quake II‘s multiplayer wasn’t mentioned. Similar to the original game, you had Deathmatch, but also a cooperative version of the single-player game, a one-on-one match, and a Capture-The-Flag mode. id Software released specifically-designed multiplayer maps after Quake II‘s release, which only enhanced the fun. You also now had the ability to customize your character’s look with various models and colour schemes, providing more variety.

Quake II saw ports to the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, with both having their own unique characteristics to meet each console’s capabilities. The console versions also had split-screen multiplayer, which still evokes nostalgia for many. And to further prove the game’s longevity, Quake II also saw an RTX-optimized version released back in 2019 that showed off Nvidia’s new raytracing technology. True, it seemed like an anachronistic approach to showing off new technology, but it gave a younger generation the ability to play Quake II, so what’s to complain about?

While obviously some of its mechanics with the AI and the graphics don’t hold up quite as well today, Quake II is still a blast to jump into after all these years. Practically everything about Quake II surpassed what fans experienced in the original Quake. And while the Gothic horror of the original game has been replaced with a more sci-fi action flavour, there’s still plenty for genre fans to gnaw on as they roam the corridors, keeping an eye out for the biomechanical horrors of the Strogg.

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