The original Quake did much to define the first-person shooter genre. Fresh off the success of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, id Software added important features like 16-player network play, mouse-look, and next-generation graphics and sound. Quake Mobile--at least for now--includes only the single-player game, and it lacks analog viewing or the Nine Inch Nails-provided soundtrack (due to licensing issues). Still, it's an amazing technological achievement, and it represents a glimpse at the future of three-dimensional mobile gaming.
For now, Quake Mobile is appearing only on the Samsung Nexus (with which it is bundled) and the LG VX360. Both these handsets feature 3D-acceleration technology, as would any future phones to carry the game. On the Nexus, we enjoyed speeds of 25 or more frames per second, which proved completely playable. There were barely any instances of slowdown, even during large confrontations. All the grunts, enforcers, ogres, and vores were rendered in a high-quality setting and looked scarier on the 2.5-inch screen than you would think possible.
Quake takes advantage of the Nexus' stylus and touch screen, but not in the way you would expect. Five buttons on the right of the screen control common actions like jumping and shooting as well as camera adjustment. You can bind these and any items on the keyboard to whichever functions you choose. Because the single-player game was designed to be playable with only a keyboard, the lack of analog mouse-look-type controls isn't a real detriment. Circle strafing became essential only in Quake's multiplayer matches. For the most part, hellspawn has the courtesy of approaching you from a consistent height, so you'll rarely have to awkwardly adjust the camera with digital buttons.
All movement in Quake is controlled via the Nexus' rubber analog stick, which serves admirably in this role. Strafe controls can be bound to any button on the Nexus' slide-out thumb keyboard, as well as to the interface buttons or onscreen touch keys. You'll find, however, that strafing is less essential in Quake than in modern shooters.
To be clear, what you've got here is a full game of Quake--with all the weapons, monsters, and mayhem--on a phone. Apart from the lack of music (which plays only when you bother to put the CD in the drive, anyway), you'll notice nary a difference between the PC and mobile versions of this game. Fortunately, the draw and firing noises are just as good as you remember--way ahead of their time. Those of you who had low- to mid-end PCs in 1996 might even have a better experience with the mobile version. In any case, the main draw is that you'll be able to play the first truly portable version of Quake, which is a pretty amazing feeling.
Of course, we're talking about a game that's almost 10 years old. Many advances in the first-person shooter genre make this game feel dated. If you're going to revive an ancient shooter, though, you might as well go with one as beloved and durable as Quake.
The savvy can up the replay value of this title even further by installing mods directly onto their phone. You simply download and install these onto a flash memory card, and plop them into the appropriate folder, just as you would on the PC. Quake Mobile is compatible with any and all PC mods, so you can revisit all your favorites, provided they don't require multiplayer. However, a future mobile edition will feature sixteen-player matchups, over EVDO, and we can't wait.
Quake Mobile is more than just a technological showpiece for a phone you probably don't have. All these years later, it's still a great game that may be a consideration next time you're ready to buy a handset. As 3D chipsets become more common on mobile handsets, games like Quake (and Quake itself) will be more widely available. If you can, get this game and get a glimpse at the near future of mobile gaming.