There is a short story, written by Joseph Conrad, called 'Heart of Darkness' (on which, incidentally, the movie Apocalypse Now is based). In it, Kurtz, the demented spiritual hero, when he dies, he mutters 'The horror! The horror!' - what that means in the book I shall not explain because it is pretty much irrelevant to this review, but what it DOES apply to, I believe, is my attitude towards this title. It has been a while since I have seen a title that is so abysmally, hopelessly, incredibly bad. It's hard to believe Activision would want to spoil any Quake 2 fun by releasing this idiosyncratic piece of junk - guess they're just 'cashing in'. But more below, in due order. Oh, another way to put this, [I just can't stop bashing this one ;)] is to quote T.Liam McDonald, of PC Gamer (June '98, p. 150): "As far as I'm concerned, you can take 95% of all add-on levels for Quake, Quake 2 and Hexen 2, burn them onto a single CD-ROM - and burn that CD-ROM". [For the slow-witted, Reckoning would go directly onto that CD-ROM]. There, I'm done bashing Reckoning in the intro. Now let's get to bashing it in the other parts of the review.
Graphics-wise, it is unbelievable how well a developer can spoil a great engine. For a good example of how to do graphics on an existing engine, check out Hexen 2, which is based on the original Quake engine, but when 3D-accelerated (and even when not) it looks beautiful. For a BAD example, check out The Reckoning. In case the developers are reading this, hey - guess what! 3Dfx cards have a 16-bit palette, which means you can use - WOW - 65,536 colors. So please, if you do a Quake 2: The Re-Reckoning [God forbid], please, DO use more than 3 colors - after all, the days of CGA are gone. The predominant colors, as may be seen in the screenshots, are yellow, black and sometimes red. It looks so incredibly jaded and just basically crappy, that it hurts the eyes. I do admit that I am somewhat biased to Unreal's graphics, but come on, even Quake 2 looks a lot more beautiful, once you go away from camping under the stairs. Heck, the clouds don't even move in Reckoning, and you're supposedly on the same freaky planet as in Quake 2.
The sound in the game is purely Quakish. You hear the grunts of the Quake dude once in a while, and you hear the enemies scream when they die. Whee. The only nice (or bad, depending on your taste) thing is the Q2 soundtrack - and that only if you have the original CD ;).
To speak about gameplay would be heresy. There is none. In my opinion, anyway - if you enjoy running around blasting things - go ahead, suit yourself. However, do note - I am not reviewing this from the point of view of a RTS fan who has no clue about 3D gaming - I've been into 1st person shooters for longer than I'd care to admit, and damn me if I see any gameplay in Reckoning. The only thing that was kind of neat were the monkey-looking beasts who swim in water and look like they want to hug you and become your special teddy-bear - before they fire a few laser blasts, jump on top of you and shred you to pieces. Creepy. Oh, another neat thing is the Dualfire gizmo - it actually increases your fire rate, sort of like that patch for Doom 2 back way when that let you not reload your shotgun, just fire away ;) - which actually works kind of well. Also, I noticed that there is somewhat of a Hexenish thing about this addon - you end up returning to where you left off after a few levels so that you continue in a different direction, after opening the doors or whatever. Admittedly, after I saw that I was going to be stuck in a swamp for another few levels I could no longer endure it, so I ran for it. Fast.
If I had to talk about the fun factor of this, I would probably rate it at a negative infinity. However, since I cannot do that, and I do admit that there MAY be people who'll absolutely get a kick out of this, I'll give it something above 0. I do have to note that I found one place which had a different palette from everywhere else - there was no red and black, just all shades of yellow!
Multiplayer support is just basic Quake. I didn't have a chance to try it, but it's pretty much the regular blastfest of Quake - and that's damn beautiful - since nothing beats Quake in this :) Also, since it makes you patch your Quake 2 to v3.15, you can get the FULL-CTF version, so you get Capture-the-Flag play. But then you can get that and NOT get The Reckoning, to save on download time and nervous frustration at the evident rape of the game engine.
In short, this is one bad addon; in my opinion, anyway. Other people may disagree - and if someone out there does, drop me a note - and please tell me WHAT the heck you could possibly like in this shovelware :).
Highs: The uninstaller actually works, and wipes it clean without any trace; it uses InstallShield 5 which tells you _what_ it did when it uninstalled it, in case not everything got removed; the install program makes cool sounds.
Lows: abysmally bad graphics, boring gameplay, crappy level design, no new monsters, no new weapons, in the first 5 - 6 levels all you get is a shotgun and like 17 billion machine guns, and nothing else.
In brief: If you see this in a store, run from it. Fast. If you see it in a recycle bin, run from it. Fast. If you see it in the garbage, run from it. Fast. Anyway, you get the idea :).
Are you a mindless button-pusher? To enjoy this mission pack your going to have to be. This is the first "authentic" addon for Quake 2 as opposed to junk like Juggernaut. It has 25 new maps of which 7, are for Deathmatch only (1 of them appears to be made for CTF). I played through the first 3 segments (about 12 levels) and was bored out of my mind. I pressed about 1000 switches, levers and buttons and killed countless minions of evil. It was the most boring collection of levels I've ever played
Any new graphics? Well there are new monsters and they use existing Quake 2 technology for effects. One monster has day-glow blood and another has its own personal shielding device. There are new sky graphics with clouds but they pale in comparison to Unreal. In general, this mission pack exhibits the same lack of subtley for use of colored lighting that the original Quake 2 levels did. You are constantly bathed in sickly, yellow, red or other full spectrum hues.
When you're not drowning in color, it's because your in a pitch black or nearly dark hallway. Overall, its the same graphics with new levels. It looked good last christmas but now it's already dated. Such is the industry these days.
Same boring sounds from before. Wimpy weapon sounds, and monsters that yell out when they see you. Yawn.
This mission pack sucks. The 2 authorized mission packs for Quake 1 were fabulous. Dissolution of Eternity and Scourge of Armaggon were fantastic addons that actually rivaled the original levels, weapons and monsters. This mission pack is absolutel junk. The new monsters are lame, the new guns are just barely passable, and the levels twist and turn and retread over themself. You end up running back and forth through empty levels, searching for that one button or doorway you missed. I think that the whole concept of "find key A for door A, to get to key B for area B" needs to be abolished. Most of the time, the monsters serve only as annoyances that need to be killed just to make passage to that almight key/switch. They serve no other real purpose other than to stock the levels. They have the most basic AI required, and are only difficult because the levels are so cheap on guns and ammo. The deathmatch maps are however, fairly good. They have nice layouts and designs so hopefully we'll see servers hosting them. 7 dm levels do not however, justify getting this addon.
good dm levels
the "frisbee" gun is neat
annoying level design
button pushing to the extreme
Asus HX 512k MB
64 edo ram
4 mb matrox mystique
Orchid Righteous 3D 2 - 12 meg