Yes, Quake II, the game PC owners have been enjoying for a long time, has finally made it to the PlayStation. Being a fan of PC first-person shooters, I was less than excited. I mean, I've already played the single-player to death on the PC, and multiplayer FPS games on a console are usually quite pathetic. The N64 version was pretty good, provided that you could look past the flaws that most fans of the PC version would notice in the first 20 seconds. The PlayStation version has many of these same flaws, but given the PlayStation's rapidly aging hardware, it's easier to overlook these flaws. While you may not remain interested in the single-player mission to see it to its completion, the four-player multiplayer in Quake II will make you glad you had picked up a multitap and three extra Dual Shocks.
The storyline is your typical hostile alien sort of thing. You, as a space marine, land on the planet of Stroggos with the intention of blowing up everything in sight. Unfortunately, you get separated from the rest of the marines and are forced to go it alone. So now you must run all over this planet, collecting keys, opening doors, taking elevators, and wiping out various alien monsters before they tear you in half. To wipe out these aliens, you'll have to find weapons - your wimpy default blaster simply won't cut it. You'll find a couple shotguns, two types of machine guns, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, and two types of energy weapons - one of which is the almighty BFG, a gun that spits out a huge power ball and wipes out just about anything that gets near the blast. You'll also find a great deal of ammo, armor, and health scattered about the levels.
A game like this really requires a good control scheme to succeed. Thanks to excellent use of the Dual Shock controller, it has one. In the default setup, you use the left stick to look around and the four buttons on the front of the pad to move in any of four directions. You can also configure the right analog stick so you can use it in much the same way. The R buttons handle firing and jumping, and the L buttons let you cycle through your weaponry. You can play the game on a standard controller, but trust me - you wouldn't want to. The game also supports the PlayStation mouse, but if you're already used to using a mouse to control your first-person shooters, then you probably have a PC and you've been playing the PC version of Quake II for ages, making this game mostly useless.Graphically, the PlayStation really does a decent job. The textures may look a little washed-out, a few models may have been simplified, and a few frames of animation may have been chopped here and there, but overall, the game runs at a very playable speed. The tradeoff is that the game has much more frequent loads. Most of the level modification between the PC and PlayStation versions is in the addition of many more small, closed-off hallways that serve as little loading areas. At first it's not a big deal, but when you've got to go back and forth between different parts of a level to accomplish various tasks, loading every 20-30 seconds is enough to make you crazy. The game's sound effects and music are taken directly from the PC version, and overall, the sound is great.
The multiplayer mode is where this title picks up most of its value points. Sure, a few of the multiplayer levels are a little on the weak side, but there are enough good ones that it doesn't really matter. The three modes in the game are standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, and versus. Versus mode is a last-man-standing affair, where you and up to three friends duke it out until only one of you remains. The coolest multiplayer option is the gravity slider, which lets you turn gravity way down for some really high-flying action, or turn it way up to keep people from hopping around like lunatics. Sure, it's not as versatile as being able to program your own modifications to the game, but it's a nice touch, and it manages to breathe a bit of life into the game.
In the end, the PlayStation version of Quake II falls under the same disclaimers as most other PC-to-console first-person shooters - if you own the PC version, don't waste your time. But if you're looking for some good split-screen shooting action with a decent single-player mode to back it up, this version will make your day.