2, Issue 8
January 11, 2000
in their boots...
III Arena, the latest edition in the popular shootem
up series, strips the Quake universe down to its
barest essentials, a blackened skeleton of pure combat. Instead
of various slobbering computer leashed ghouls, one player battles
other players in a match to the death, making every kill far more
intimate. The speed of the game can be staggering, momentum building
as contestants give over to the rhythms of spinning across a never
changing landscape...barreling down the same corridors, turning
the same corners, moving through the same doors, becoming hypnotized
by an endless war.
to this bloody ouroborus is a brief one, as perhaps is appropriate,
indeed maybe necessary, considering the nature of the game itself.
A rapidly flashing white light fades into the image of a soldier
firing a machine gun, bullets spreading out in arcs. His shrieking
and the whirling of the steaming barrel resound like twin banshees,
feeding off of one anothers rage. Pulled out of his euphoria
by the beeping of the gun registering a distinct lack of ammunition,
the soldier looks up at the approaching mob. Our hero
takes cover behind the shattered pillar of some ancient ruin and,
realizing the hes in what the kids like to call a
bad fucking spot, charges at the enemy, determined to take
a few with him.
not to be, however, as time stops and olblood and guts is
sucked out of existence by a blue light.
is wonderful. What are the Quake games if not a one-two-three
give it to em good, a language of grunts, squeals and zipping
rockets. The games always had a kind of last stand quality about
them, a dime store apocalypse where the dead are resurrected to
fight again and again. The cinematics for Arena are writ
small but manage to imply an entire universe of chaos.
note is the beautiful design of the piece. The animation is first
rate, giving a gritty sheen to an otherwise bubbly art form. The
soldier glistens, squints and chomps on his cigar with an impressively
rendered determination. The ruined temple on which the battle
takes place, while most likely just a thrown away bit of atmosphere,
is still a nice touch (end of civilization and all that). Shattered
pillars and cracked, weedy steps, give off a sense of epic despair.
Dark and oppressive, the scene has a claustrophobic desperation.
One of the creepiest things for me about the Quake series
came from watching these twisted characters delivering the world
into the arms of Armageddon while standing in the corridors of
empty space stations and the streets of some wounded metropolis,
as if everything fell apart, and this is all thats left...savages
playing among the bones of the future.
in the piece illustrates this perfectly. As the soldier realizes
that his gun has run out of ammo, he looks up at the advancing
army. With a dazzlingly fast pull back of the camera,
the creators let us share the full weight of our heros revelation.
The view expands backwards, leaving the soldier receding into
the distance with a comically shocked look on his face, so that
we can see the shambling wreck of humanity approaching the temple.
Again, we can see another of Quakes creepy qualities
touched on, the overwhelming odds lurching into focus like the
ravenous cast of a zombie nightmare. What is most impressive,
however, is that in the end the creators let the game speak for
away by a crackling electric blue charge, we find the soldier
in the game, pawn-like. We slowly pull back and find that his
world fills the outline of letters spelling out the title of the
game. Its a lovely gimmick, both surprisingly gentle
a device considering Quakes gore obsession and an
almost certainly unintentional, but no less welcome, symbolic
representation of the game. The gaming universe of Quake
is both the soldiers playground and prison.
wouldnt think of Quake III Arena as a place for polysyllabic
consideration of anything, but watching these tiny dramas unfold
in all their earnest seriousness you find meaning slipped between
the cracks of intention and chance. On the one hand, Quake
III Arenas cinematics are just nice to watch, charmingly
brief and cute in only the way a blood soaked horror show could
be. On the other, there is a real sense that the opening is being
put to good use as an encapsulation of the dark heart that pumps
at the core of the Quake world. In the end it really doesnt
matter what was deliberate and what wasnt; we take what
we will from these pieces, finding insight in the strangest places.
Joshua Vasquez is the resident film critic here at loonygames.
He also writes for the Internet film site Matinee