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SummaryA let down
The GoodQuake II wasn't all bad, there were some very big improvements over the first installment, even if the game as a whole didn't live up to its predecessor.
For one the graphics engine was phenomenal. Again we're treated to fantastic graphics that run extremely fast even on poor systems of the time. It amazes me how fast and smooth the game would run, while just about everything else out at the time looked worse and ran half as fast.
The single player was a big improvement. Enemy AI was much, much better, the story (although lacking by standards of the time) was better than the first installment, and the level design while not as good in my opinion, offered a wider variety of colors and environments over the first. Furthermore, the lighting effects were much, much better than the first and the character models far more detailed (but we'd expect that with a newer game).
The BadUnfortunately everything else is lacking. While Quake 1 gave us fantastic multiplayer action while failing to deliver on the single player campaign, Q2 is the opposite. The single player is decent, but the multiplayer was atrocious.
The state of the online community surrounding Q2 reflected this. This was a game that outsold its predecessor, but still there were fewer ladders, competitions, and online servers.
Some designer got the bright idea that the rocket launcher in Q1 was too powerful, so they dumbed it down, they nerfed it BIG TIME. Not only did the rocket launcher produce a minimum amount of damage, the rockets traveled so slow after being fired that it could take 4 or 5 seconds to reach your target. Not only that but the blast radius was so small that only a direct hit would really do anything, but even so that was dumbed down as well and it would take multiple direct hits on an unarmored opponent. Worthless.
But then they introduce the rail gun. A one shot instant fire, instant kill weapon. This wouldn't be so bad because many FPS games have a weapon of this sort, but to shoot themselves in the foot, the designers slowed player movement to a crawl. The result is everyone using rail guns; the instant kill weapon while players move around at a snail's pace. The result is that newbish, unskilled players are now on level playing field with seasoned veterans, and the game comes down to excessive camping with those that have the faster computer to get into the level first usually ending up the winners.
The multiplayer was slower and buggy. There were crashes, and super low pings were less common than in the first installment. Lots of activity in game would cause slow down, even if your machine is 10x the recommended specifications. The DM was slower, required less skill, and there were fewer customizations available to the end user.
Furthermore, the multiplayer level design was not as good as the previous installment, and the game generally lacked the hard core multiplayer experience that the first offered.
The Bottom LineIf single player goodness is what you're after, and you feel that the original Quake failed to deliver, then this one is for you.
If you're a hardcore multiplayer competitor, then you're out of luck with this title.