In the annals of FPS (First person Shooter) history, one company can be said to have truly dominated the market: iD software. Since the very beginning, they were there, on the cutting edge, pioneering the FPS genre as we know it today. Always pushing the envelope and always upping the ante one step furthur with each subsequent release. Now I have always been a fan of iD, so when I got a chance to play the PS2 version of the latest jewel in their crown, Quake 3, I was understandably excited. On the one hand I was very dubious, as I have never been a fan of FPS games on a console (the controls have never suited the fast action as far as I'm concerned), but on the other hand I was very interested to see how well they had managed to convert the monster PC hit to Sony's little black box. With the promise of extra maps, an enhanced single player campaign mode, and extra weapons and items, the game was truly set to live up to its name. It was set to be a Quake 3 Revolution. Did it work? Well, I'm happy to say, yes, it mostly did. My fears of a horrible failure were not realised and the game actually turned out rather fun. How fun? Well I guess you'll just have to read ahead....
This is the area I felt was really going to let the game down. I've never been able to get into FPS's on consoles; the controls never seem to map well to your average console controller. This was my biggest fear and almost had me turned off the game before I had even tried it. After booting the game and watching the intro to make sure that it was, yes, the same as the PC version, I decided to start a single player game. Here is where my opinion of the game started to change.
Obviously realising multiplayer was going to be a much smaller part of the game on PS2 than it is on PC, Bullfrog (yes, the Theme Park guys) realised that the game would need a little more than your average "jump in and cause slaw" style of play to keep it interesting to people. So rather than a straight conversion of the single player mode from the PC version, they created an all new single player "Campaign mode". At the start of the single player game you choose one of five warriors, all with different stats, to play through the game as. For example, the Doom Marine has more speed, whereas Sarge has more power. As you complete each Tier, your character gets upgrades to his/her skills to make him/her more powerful and more able to fight the higher level characters. This adds an almost RPG element to the gameplay as you play to increase your stats and make your character more kickass than anyone else.
You can also earn items and such by completing mini goals within each map. For example, one of the mini goals for a map may be to get at least 50% rail accuracy. If you achieve this, you might then get a bonus Quad damage which you start already armed with at the beginning of the next map. Its a nice touch and gives you something more to aim for in each map than just outright winning.
The maps are a combination of all the styles of Quake we have come to love: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a few modes new to the PS2 (most of them variations on things like Capture the Flag). All the weapons from Quake 3 are accurately recreated also: Gauntlet, Machinegun, Plasma Gun, Rocket Launcher, Grenade Launcher, Shotgun, Railgun, BFG, and as an added extra, the Chaingun from Quake 3: Team Arena.
Now, the most taboo subject of all, how are the controls. Well, to be honest, its still not close to a mouse and keyboard. On the upside, I would have to say, this is one of (if not) the best FPS games I've played on a console with regards to control. While you still dont have as much control as you would with a mouse/keyboard combo, the amount of control you do have is actually quite suprising. A number of control methods are available, but the one I found best to use set the Left Analogue stick as turn left/right and look up/down and set the Right Analogue stick as Move Forward/Back and Strafe Left/Right. Using the two joysticks in combination you can then (with a little practice) control your player rather well. At the same time as running or strafing in any direction you can also be turning and aiming and firing, it all comes together rather well. The top trigger buttons are used for things such as Firing weapons and Jumping and the other buttons are used for weapon changing, zooming, and any other little incidental things. And for those lovers of inverted mouse out there, yes, you can invert the Y axis on the joystick so it feels just like it should :)
Multiplayer, I'm sad to say, doesn't really provide the intense action that I'm used to from a Quake game. This is most likely because it has to be played split screen, and seeing as I dont have a MultiTap, can only be a maximum of 2 players. While it is fun for a bash, it didn't hold anywhere near the appeal for me that the single player game did. It would make for a good party game, and I can see myself dragging it out on occasion for some good old fashioned slaw when people come over, but its nothing special. Kudos to Bullfrog though, they have done a very good job on it, its just limited by what the hardware can suppport.
The graphics (as you would expect) are truly superb. The dynamic lighting effects and the explosions/weapon effects look truly awesome and the game in general looks very clean and very lush. Honestly, I would have been disappointed by any less. When you take one of the best looking game engines currently available, and put it on the most powerful console currently available, you expect it to really deliver the goods. And deliver it does.
If you've played Quake 3 on the PC, you will know generally what to expect. The textures are crisp, the models are big and well defined, the level architecture is stunning (if a little bit too brown in places) and the various lighting and explosion effects look beautiful. This is a good game to really show off what the PS2 is capable of graphically, and if its a taste of whats to come, then we will all be in for quite a treat.
Not much (if any) slowdown was apparent when playing split screen either. The game automatically switches to simple items (ie, instead of rendering the 3d models for the items, it renders them as 2d icons) when playing multiplayer, so this probably goes a long way to keeping the speed up also.
The Quake series has always had good sound work. From the explosions of impacting rockets, to the whoosh of one that just flew past you. From the deadly sound of a rail, to the constant barrage of a plasma gun. And most importantly, the visceral sound of your opponent being ripped apart and becoming gibbage. Everything sound you've come to love is faithfully reproduced in Quake 3: Revolution, even down to the tacky booming voices ("DENIED!"). To be honest, theres not a lot that could be done wrong with the sound in Quake 3, and Bullfrog have done just that; nothing wrong.
The music also is very good. I'm not sure how it stacks up to the music in the PC version (as I turned it off pretty fast on my PC), but it really helps in the various levels to add atmosphere and even a sense of urgency to the game. Maybe its just because the game is aimed more at a single player market, but I found many times in the single player game where the music was really getting me fully into the game. You know you're getting into a game when you start screaming at your tv to "Just Accept it!" while you go about slawing the CPU opponents.
Overall, a successful port of a successful game to a successful console. If you're not a Quake 3 fan, this game isn't going to convert you, and if you already own Quake 3 on the PC, then this game is probably not worth getting, but standing alone as a game in its own right, its an incredibly good effort. My hatred of FPS games on consoles is quite deep seated, and any game good enough to make me rethink that stance has to be a pretty good effort indeed. If you're in the mood for a bit of simple PS2 deathmatch action, and you want to do it in style, then I'd definately suggest picking up a copy of Quake 3 Revolution.