Quake Live - Freeware Online Game and Portal
key review info
- Game: Quake Live
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
No need for "an original game," no need to keep a CD close or search the Internet for a downloadable version! To play this game, all you need is a PC running Windows XP or Vista, a browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer) and a good Internet connection.
Quake Live is a first person shooter that allows you to frag your way through multiple game types of online action.
In August 2007, id Software announced the development of a web-based online first person shooter: Quake Zero. In less than seven months the game got a new, cooler name, Quake Live, and the sign up process began. Quake Live is intended to be id Software’s attempt to remain at the top of the online gaming community as Quake III and its less popular addon, Quake III Team Arena were after their release. As you might have guessed already, Quake Live is based on the Quake III engine, so the maps and graphics may look very familiar to you. And there are your first advantages: no installation hassle, freeware game, playable on any decent computer.
What do you need? Well, as I was saying, a browser and good Internet connection will be sufficient. You’ve surely noticed that I’ve used the future: that it is because Quake Live has just stepped out of development into closed beta testing. So, if you did not sign up last year for an account, you’d better head up the official website, enter your email and keep your fingers crossed.
Of course it’s impossible to play Quake Live without installing absolutely anything on the user’s computer. So, after logging into the account, one still has to wait a while, because after installing a small plugin (that requires restarting your browser), the practice match and game files are downloaded. You should know two important details. First, the user will be able to play the practice match while the game files are being downloaded; second, and most important, the game files are almost 300 MB large. Therefore, if you’re planning on playing Quake Live, make sure you’ve got enough free space on your hard drive and the time to download those files. Once again, user intervention isn’t needed; users will just be notified that files and updates are being downloaded. Closing the browser at any time is not a problem; the download process will be resumed when the users log back into their Quake Live account.
Logging into the Quake Live account provides access to the game's portal, which could be separated in three areas: the useful links area, in the upper-right part of the page, the "playing area," in the center of the page, changing as you browse the website content, and to its right, the news area. The Settings menu in the useful links area is the first place one should visit after creating the account. Why? Because from the here users can customize their character, controls, audio and video settings. Furthermore, by accessing the Edit my profile link, personal details like clan, name, street, street, city, country and so on can be easily updated.Moving along to the other links: The top menu on Quake Live allows users to rapidly navigate through six important webpages: News (for the latest updates released by the development team), Forums (for bug reports, support and feedback), Leaders, Profile, Friends and Home.
The Leaders page displays the top Quake Live players ordered by the following criteria: number of wins, number of frags, number of games played, time played, efficiency, accuracy and medals. All of them can be viewed on one page or separated, with a lot of other details. Additionally, the website offers yet another useful feature: the ability to sort leader stats by game type, arena, country, weapon and others.
The Profile page provides information and statistics regarding one’s games, friends or foe. Once again, both a summary and detailed info are available. From the Friends page, a user can view and search for other players that they can add (invite) or remove (block) from their friends list.The Home button provides access to the "playing area," that’s where the action takes place: from here users have access to both the online and offline games. Let’s start with the easy stuff. From the offline games, users can choose to replay the training match or play a game against the skilled Quake Live bots. If one wishes to express their "rage against the machine," an offline game can be started with a click of a button, but, of course, it can be heavily customized first. Users can select the game type, arena, time limit, round limit, number of players and even the bot skill level. Needless to say, the map list is not identical for all game types, so new comers should feel free to have a look around; they’ll surely discover maps that are not in the original Quake III.
If you wish to play online, the website will always offer three picks, but users can choose from a list of over 40 games. The list view will display basic game information: map, game type, number of players and average skill level compared to the player’s. Hovering one of the games with your mouse offers additional important information such as the scoreboard, time limit, round limit and capture limit. Clicking the game will also reveal a list of the players and double-clicking the game will have the same effect as pressing the Play button. Once again, sorting is possible, only this time the user can save their preferences. Here are some of the available criteria: difficulty, location, game type or game state.
Last, but not least, the news area, located to the right of the playing area, provides information about recent updates, but also allows the user to chat with online friends or enter the game queue for an online duel.
As a final note regarding the Quake Live website, I have encountered only a glitch or two, but the game list may become unavailable from time to time. Moreover, those of you planning on burning the midnight oil should be aware that the website goes offline at night for maintenance updates.
Let’s start at the beginning, because you won’t be able to play on Quake Live immediately after the download process has been completed. First of all, whether you are a master at Quake III or have never played a shooter in your life, you’ll need to enter the tutorial. If you can easily say Pass to the tutorial just by pressing F3, you’ll then need to play not so hard as it may initially seem one-on-one game against Crash to determine skill placement. So, if you were asking yourself earlier how could the website know your skill level, now you have your answer.After getting through the tutorial and training levels, users are free to play as much as they want. I’ll start by pointing out the few problems encountered while trying out the game for a few days. Bugs are not something you should expect: the only one I’ve seen was a "flying" player. On the other hand, there are maps with a very small number of respawning places, making it easy for campers to "have a little bit of fun." I’ve experienced a few short connection problems during gameplay, but ping response was not disappointing, so one can only hope the situation will remain unchanged once the game goes public.Since the ping response didn’t cause any problems, there weren’t, of course, any audio and video delays. On the bright side of things, since Quake Live is using a pretty old engine, you’ll have no problem playing it on any decent video card. On an older one, the game reaches an average of 65 FPS, while on newer cards, it will exceed 100-120 FPS.
Leaving the technicalities aside, Quake Live improves the gaming experience by offering new, great-looking maps, but also by giving a touch of finesse to the ones you already knew from Quake III. An simple, but eloquent example is the addition of a Mars-looking planet in the background of all space maps (tier 6 and 7 of the original Quake III)In conclusion, Quake Live has all the important advantages of a successful online game: freeware, low requirements, no installation needed, detailed statistics, impressive variety of maps and game types, skill management, online community and so on. I'll let the screenshots talk for themselves!