Inside the Official Quake II Party

Didn't get an invite to go to the official Quake II party in LA? GameSpot News did and we'll take you for an inside look.

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City of Industry, Calif. - With El Nino poised slightly offshore, id and Activision threw an invitation-only rain-soaked premiere bash for Quake II last Friday night. GameSpot News was there to watch as fraggers, media, and business types got to face each other in the new Quake II arena - before it arrives in stores on Tuesday, December 9.

Set at SlamSite in the Puente Hills Mall, 23 miles east of LA, the crowd at the 15,000-square-foot networked gaming center wasn't your normal gaming bunch. Although it was tough to pick out all of Quake's sacred circle, appearances in the crowd included id folks such as John Carmack, Barrett Alexander, Todd Hollenshead, Christian Antkow, and Quake fraggers like Dennis "Thresh" Fong, Kornelia, OneThumb, Morbid, Reptile, and SlamSite founder Frank Westall.

And while it was a challenge to get a seat at one of the QII-loaded kiosks set around SlamSite, we did elbow our way in and take Quake II for a spin. So what's the early impression of the final copy?

Quake II goes one step ahead of Quake, spins around, and nails it to the wall. The lighting in the game (with 3D hardware acceleration) is far above what Quake fans are used to, and deathmatching takes on a whole new meaning with players jumping everywhere and new weapons blazing.

The party was hopping: There was a Quake II ice sculpture, a Quake II cake (which was coffee flavored for all you trivia addicts and late-night fraggers), and hundreds of Quake II boxes (empty) of various sizes everywhere. There were camera crews on the prowl all over, crowds milled intently around Carmack, and the sounds of ammo and explosions added gamer-friendly ambiance to the whole scene. GameSpot News talked with Vik Long from NEC, who was with some folks from Matrox (makers of the new M3D 3D accelerator). He reminded us that PowerVR OpenGL support is also included in Quake II, so gamers have a couple of different options of getting OpenGL Quake onto their desktops.

Support for Open GL through OpenGL is also included with the full version of Quake II.

Although Quake II is set to be stronger in the single-player experience, people at the booths were all playing deathmatches. Why? Activision and id were keeping close eyes on the copies of Quake II and were making sure that partygoers didn't get too festive and steal the sacred copies from the machines.

All the machines were set up with the deathmatch levels since the single-player requires that the CD be in the drive. When GameSpot News gets a copy, we'll let you know what the single-player experience is like.

All in all, it seems that this quiet mall has never seen a group like this one. We spoke to one woman who worked at the Puente Hills Mall and had figured out a way to get into the party. Although she wasn't a gamer, she was mesmerized by the game. Mall rats had no idea what was going on until they started seeing boxes of Quake II piling up. Some of the lucky ones got away with the larger boxes.

Get ready. Quake II is going to make some major waves this week - don't get left behind.

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