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Quake III: Team Arena

Score: 75%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: id Software
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 +
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

[BIG NOTE: Just in case you didn't see it up there, Quake III: Team Arena requires a copy of Quake III: Arena to be installed. In addition, you must have entered the CD Key for Q3A before Q3TA will run.]

The graphics in Quake III: Team Arena are the same graphics that you saw in Q3A. The engine itself is rock-solid, and the world is quite gorgeous. It still concentrates a little too heavy on that techno-industrial-gothic-castle thing that Q3A was a little too fixated on, but it's certainly not ugly. And, in fact, a few of the levels push the engine to areas that we've never seen it before. There are some absolutely sprawling maps, ones that thirty players would fit comfortably into. They're not particularly complex-looking, but it's still impressive to see an engine go places that it's never gone before. Of course, the play style of Q3A didn't lend itself to sprawling maps.

The character models, on the other hand, are surprisingly bland. I often had problems determining what team a person was on -- the colouring scheme definitely needs to be made more obvious. The various teams look a little too generic for my tastes, to be honest. They're not ugly, but they're not quite as detailed as I would have liked them to be.

The sound is strictly Q3A fare. You'll recognize every ammo/armour shard pick-up, the cha-ching of an armour suit, the thwack of a new gun. The music is the same as well. It's a relatively solid aureal presentation, although it never quite gets to the level of say, Unreal Tournament. The same goes for the radio chatter. It seems that in an attempt to make it sound more authentic, it's staticy, but it ends up being more annoying than not. It's certainly better than no voice chatter at all, mind you, but nothing struck me as much as the endless taunting by the bots in UT.


And, while Quake III: Team Arena offers some solid gameplay to go with its solid presentation, its team features still end up being less than those in its major opponent, Unreal Tournament. What's worse, you have to pay for this add-on, whereas Epic releases new maps all the time for free. That's not to say that most of the things Q3TA adds to the experience are bad -- far from it -- but it seems that with all the free add-ons available, the only reason to get Q3TA is that everyone else will be playing it.

Once again, the single-player experience in Q3TA is all but discarded in favour of multiplayer. There's an amusing scoring system that keeps track of how 'well' you do in the various game-types, but the single-player campaign will probably not hold your interest for very long. It does let you get some much-needed practice on the new maps, however, of which there are quite a few.

In addition to a scad of new CTF maps -- many of them abso-fricking-lutely huge, reminding me more of Tribes than any other FPS -- there are a few new play modes to add to the mix. These additional play modes are certainly entertaining, and a few of them may actually get some heavy use, but in the end it's still Capture the Flag that rules the day.

In One-Flag CTF, you've got to capture a flag in the middle of neutral territory, then bring it to your opponent's base. This makes for an interesting case of base-cracking: normally in this type of game, once you've got the flag halfway across the map you're running like mad for a base you know is protected. Now it's protected, but by the wrong team. Urk!

In Overload, an obelisk appears at the flag base of both bases. You've got to destroy the enemy's obelisk. It takes a psychotically large amount of damage, and it regenerates constantly. Concerted effort is necessary to crack the base and do enough damage to the obelisk. It's challenging, and fun as hell.

In Harvester, the last truly new game mode, there is a skull generator in the centre of the level that has the skulls of every one who has been fragged. Capture skulls of the opposing team and then bring them to the enemy base, a la One Flag CTF. This is another fast and furious challenge.

Some problems come about with the other new additions to the game, however -- the weapons and powerups. The weapon damage has been tweaked, and some weapons you had before that were amazing will now do nothing but piss you off. And a few new weapons were added. The Nailgun is basically a crappy shotgun, damn near useless; the Chaingun is amazing, but it sucks ammo like no tomorrow; and the Proximity Mine Launcher is evil incarnate. This last one is the main unbalancer, especially when combined with one of the new powerups -- Ammo Regen. Mining the flag bases or the skull generator is a way to get cheap kills, and is more annoying than a truly solid tactic.

The other new powerups are very cool, however. There's a Scout, that makes you run fast and shoot fast but removes your armour; there's a Doubler, which doubles the damage of any weapon (Quad this for absolute insanity); and there's my personal favourite, the Guard, which regenerates health up to 200. This one's useful for any role, whereas the others are for specific roles only.

It's important to remember that Team bit in the game's title. An unorganized team will lose, and lose quickly. An organized team will absolutely trounce any team that doesn't keep everyone in the know.


The single-player missions, for what they're worth, are quite solid when it comes to AI. It seems to have improved some since the Q3A days. Of course, since you'll probably play single-player for a grand total of five minutes, the real difficulty in the game comes from the online opponents you'll face. So be prepared to get trounced if you're a Q3A newbie. On the other hand, if you're a FPS gamer with skillz, you shouldn't have any problems with this one. Just make sure you can work with a team; that's the difference between winning and losing in this game.

Game Mechanics:

Infinitely configurable, the controls in Q3TA are definitely up to par. The menus are much improved over the Q3A ones, as is the server browser. It's still nothing compared to Unreal Tournament, but it's better than nothing. Joining games is simple enough, although I've had some problems when connecting to servers that had 'special' files that wouldn't download -- sometimes the game would kick me back into vanilla Q3A instead of Q3TA. The core mechanics of the game are solid, however, even if the weapons aren't particularly well-balanced. And there's definitely much fun to be had here.

Despite its flaws, Quake III: Team Arena is a solid offering from id. My problems with it don't stem from its issues, which can be easily fixed with patches, although those certainly don't help the situation. The main problem is that this add-on costs almost as much as the game itself. When other game companies release add-ons like this for free, and Quake III: Arena itself has a scad of downloadable add-ons that feature much of the functionality of Q3TA, I find it hard to recommend something that seems like a major cash-in. If you're a die-hard Quaker, you're going to have to buy this, as people are running the maps and features that only it supports now. But those of us who have stuck with the various fan-released mods and games like Unreal Tournament will not find a whole game's worth of enjoyment in Quake III: Team Arena.

So while Q3TA gets an 8/10 for enjoyment, it gets a 6/10 for philosophy. It's hard to score something like this, so I went the middle ground -- in the end, Q3TA is strictly average.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/ME/2K/NT, Quake III Arena, P2 300MHz, 16MB 3D Video Card, Sound Card, Mouse, 64MB RAM, 500MB HD Space, 4x CD-ROM

Test System:

AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6x/24x DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/ 32 MB RAM

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated