My eyes are like two huge red onions: big, painful and… uhm… red. And all that because of Quake Live – not at all a game to make you cry, but a game that has the power to turn you into an addict. After a few minutes with the game, you’ll feel the need to frag one more enemy, to unlock one more achievement and generally to keep playing, since it’s completely free and it still delivers great quality.
The most shocking part when it comes to Quake Live (which is in Open Beta, which is completely free, which means that if you didn’t already, you should sign up right now!). As I was saying, the most shocking thing about id Software’s shooter is the fact that you can play it in your browser. Until now, “browser” based gaming was, for me, similar with poor quality flash visuals – not the case of Quake Live, who manages to bring some pretty decent graphics straight to your browser, with absolutely no gameplay problems.
It is still a bit annoying that you have to wait in a usually 5 digit queue before being allowed to access the website (which is a measure to avoid server crumbling and laggy performances), but we can’t complain: once you’re in there, it’s heaven for your browser! You’ll first have to complete a “tutorial” which decides your skill (which hopefully can be improved according to your actual game play) and then you’re ready to jump straight into the action.
Id Software has a pretty solid matchmaking system, which doesn’t let you join games where players are not as sharpshooters as you are, while also warning you when you’re about to join rooms in which players are better than you. They also have a list of “perfect matching” servers, and you’ll probably be better joining those for the best experience.
The game itself is your regular shooter: not your latest generation graphics, but having in mind that you are playing the FPS in your browser, without a bit of lag, you’ll soon get over that. The gameplay is similar to any offline shooter (or client-based game) you have played, which is still a mystery for me – it’s almost too good to be true. However, I’ve played for 4-5 straight hours into the night and I sure wasn’t dreaming!
The players themselves are, at the moment, a bit silent and the regular “name calling” process in any shooter is not present (not because id has some bad language filters), which adds up to the original experience. Probably people are too busy learning the game right now and that’s why it’s so silent in there… hopefully until the trolls are ready to attack, Quake Live will have a solid filter to keep everybody’s eyes safe.
There are four main game modes – the classic ones (Free For All, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Duel) as well as a “Clan Area” – a team based mode in which everyone starts fully equipped. There is also a pretty decent amount of maps you can play on, but this is the weakest point, in my opinion, of the game. The number of maps is still low, and some of them are simply not good: there are some, for example, in which you will generally frag with your base gun since you’ll simply have no time to get another weapon. But in any shooter there are better and worse maps, and I’m sure that the community will eventually create some new great ones and eventually bury the least playable.
During my stay in the Quake Live Open Beta last night I didn’t experience any technical problems (like laggy servers, being kicked out of the game rooms ore anything like that), and I must admit that it’s a real accomplishment for an online first person shooter which has just been launched and which, according to official data receives immense amounts of traffic: according to the official Twitter feed, the first six hours of the beta testing brought over 113,000 players!
So, all in all, as the numbers say, the Quake Live Open Beta is a success and I truly think that you should go on and give the game a try – especially if you’re a FPS or a Quake Arena fan. The game looks decent, the players are (at least for now) nice and warm, the atmosphere is warm and fun is guaranteed. I have encountered no bugs whatsoever, so my experience with the game was great. I’ll certainly keep playing it, and I’m sure you’ll do the same if you give it a try. Remember – it’s completely FREE!