In this day and age, with a variety of handheld and TV-set bound consoles vying for the attention of the modern gamer, making a distinctly different and yet approachable game is a challenge worthy of a Nobel Prize. If there actually were such a thing, id Software‘s web-savvy Quake Live would be a worthy nominee.
Quake Live is actually the (almost) 10-years old Quake 3 Arena with a lot of tweaks and adjustments. Not only have the graphics been improved: the overall gameplay has been balanced, and the entire game is launched through a website that also facilitates chatting and meeting friends, keeping tracks of your statistics, and finding servers to play on. It’s also entirely free. There’s no catch.
A Quake 3 / Quake Live icon is included in this post, so you can put it in your Dock when this all sounds appealing.
It’s not a big secret that I’m a huge, long-time fan of Quake 3 Arena. More recent parts of the series failed to interest me, but Q3A has always fascinated me thanks to its pace, balance, and art direction and despite being almost ten years old. Since its release, it has been ported to a vast range of platforms (including the iPhone during the jailbreak days) and open-sourced by id Software, which was followed by a lot of free and non-free games coming out using its engine. Eliminate, an iPhone shooter recently released by ngmoco uses it, for instance. Quake 3 is still played in competitive ‘eSport’ tournaments and ladders, using the Challenge Promode Arena (CPMA) mod, much like the aged Counter-Strike 1.6. A true classic.
Apart from the practice mode, that lets you fight bots or try your tricks, the entire game is played online on servers in your vicinity. For me, server locations range from Amsterdam, to France, Germany, Poland, and the UK. This ensures a minimal ping time, which the pace of this game absolutely mandates. The slightest increase in your ping time can mean the difference between virtual life and death. Coupled with its social features like friend lists and realtime chatting (which is done via XMPP – the same protocol Gtalk and Jabber use), it’s a very nice integrated gaming platform. I hope to see more of these ‘web-based’ games, where the game is an actual native application as opposed to something done in Flash, but the online services are neatly knit together in an intuitive and usable way.
As a goodie, here’s an icon for a Fluid or Prism version of Quake Live, so you can put it in your dock as if it were any other game.
Grab Quake Live for free – Mac, Linux and of course Windows are all supported. My Quake Live profile is here, where you can also add me as a friend so you can play with or against me.