Quake Mission Pack No. 2 - Dissolution of Eternity
Quake Mission packs are a bit like number 65 buses; you wait ages for one, then three come along at once. The three in question are Aftershock, an unofficial yet still worthy add-on to Quake, and the official ID software endorsed Quake Mission Packs 1 and 2, each written by a different team, yet each proving themselves to be worthy additions to the ID/Activision product line.
Oh, go on.
Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on.
Oh, alright then, for God's sake.
You're alive, and aware, and in one piece. "Be grateful for small mercies," but... "What happened?". Ages ago you defeated Armagon; yet it seems as if it happened in the last instant. The Rift Portal was sealed and the slipgate effect deposited you back at HQ...dead grunt...book of common prayer...scrap of paper...Ancient Guardians...Chain of time...Master Quake....Day of Dissolution...another slipgate...through you step...WHAMMY!!!
Goal of the game
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Needless to say, you get into this very quickly if you've played Quake before, I mean, it's Quake, right? Right! In fact, I must admit to being somewhat disappointed when I first started playing Dissolution; with Armagon (Quake Mission Pack #1) you were thrust almost immediately into "new monsters, new weapons" territory. It was a real case of "Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am". Now Dissolution, however, is a more gentle lover, it reacts to your touch, slowly undulating and moving towards it's goal, gently building with wave after wave of exquisite pain until you are finally overcome and climax with an explosion of squelchy gibs. Or something like that, anyway. What I mean to say is that Dissolution doesn't lose it's wad anywhere near as quickly as Armagon. New weapons and new monsters are gradually introduced, mostly at the most effective time. It's tougher than the original, too. Remember being scared s**tless at your first Shambler? You can now spit on its grave, as you take on in one fell sweep (count 'em) two shamblers, two fiends, a couple of scrags, three ogres, and a hellknight or two. Oh, and a couple of new friends thrown in for good measure.
Luckily, there's just about enough health and armour power-ups around to survive until you realise that head-butting that jagged stone on the right as you came in the door would have given you the red armour, a Power Shield, and a box of multi-missiles. Oh well, that's just the way it goes, sometimes.
Unlike Armagon's Sci-Fi orientated mission pack, Dissolution puts you firmly back into the medieval, with additional Egyptian and Mayan influences. I don't have a problem with this, but it's a bit surprising to find grunts and enforcers here, although in small numbers. The level design is once again fantastic, with some very talented level artists being employed to good effect by Rogue Entertainment. Although not all of the environmental additions of Armagon are here, such as rotation and wall-damage for weaponry, a couple of new environmental effects are present which I'll expand on later.
Good with SVGA, superb with 3DFX. As with Armagon, it looks like the graphics have been washed separately with Ariel Colour, rather than all in the machine together with Happy Shopper biological. The browns have gone out of your wash to be replaced with lovely blues, reds, and greens. Once again, more of an emphasis has been placed on good outdoor areas, and large, warren-like indoor deathtraps. Puzzles abound in Dissolution, and are used effectively to significantly enhance the gameplay.
There are two other monsters, the Guardian, and the end-game boss. If I told you too much about these, it'd just spoil the surprise, wouldn't it?
New Environmental Hazards and Effects
As well as the ubiquitous Deathmatch and Cooperative settings, Dissolution also offers some excellent new Teamplay options. Teamplay is an interesting combination of co-op and deathmatch. As players join the game, the computer places them on teams, with different colour uniforms. Here are the various, er, varieties which are available.
Tag: It's the game you played as a kid, with a few unimportant differences; Weapons of mass destruction. Lava pits. You get the idea. Grab the Tag Token and you'll be awarded with three frags for every subsequent kill. Do it five times, and the Quad Damage is yours.
Capture the Flag (CTF): Popularised by paintballers, this variation on a theme is the one being most played on the internet at the moment, and damn good fun it is too. Capture the enemies' flag, and take it back to your own base to score. Be careful to defend your own base properly, though, as your opponent is trying to do the same thing. At last, find a use for those annoying snipers in your clan- put them in defence.
One Flag: Two teams, one flag, all-out gib-fest. Find the flag, grab the flag, head for the enemy base.
Three Team: This CTF variation adds a third team into the mix. The grey team can grab either team's flag, but they must take it to the opposite team's base to score.
In addition, there are a number of new features only available in multi-play.
Vengeance Sphere: Get one of these and you are the lucky one. Come up against one, and you're not. Reminds me of all those old Hammer films.
Random Powerup Respawn: At last! The lurkers are finally defeated. They can hang around waiting for that quad damage for ever now!
Grappling hook: The unofficial "best new weapon" finally becomes official. You can fire the grappling hook into a wall or ceiling, then reel it in to be dragged to where it's stuck.
A worthy addition to the Quake family. While it may not be as original and innovative as Armagon, the gameplay and variety is far better. If you love Quake, buy it.
Richard Brindley for Game-Over!