If you were a no-name video game company in the nineties, there was a pretty popular method of raking in money:
- Step 1: Wait for a popular game to be released, along with its map-making tools
- Step 2: Make some poor-quality maps
- Step 3: Steal other people’s missions from the internet and slap it all together
- Step 4: Profit!
Revolutionary games like id Software’s fully-3D Quake fell victim to this. Developers like HeadGames wanted to capitalize on its popularity with map packs made up of “advanced new levels” that practically make it “a new game”. At least, that’s what the heathens who designed the box art claim. The truth is that this may as well be the worst add-on for a video game ever.
Aftershock for Quake is made up of over 50 brand new levels for both single player and multiplayer modes, along with some gameplay tips crudely-written advice on Notepad and a copy of the official Quake level editor. All of this is bundled together with a handy-dandy level launcher for DOS. It’s actually pretty easy to use, allowing you to leap into a mission of your choice with minimal fuss.
In the original version of Quake, each chapter is made up of about seven or eight levels. A few extras were tossed into the mix for deathmatch, too. Aftershock for Quake, in comparison, has about 5 levels per chapter (the fourth chapter is made up of nothing but generic deathmatch levels with no enemies to fight; why players are given the option to explore these areas in single player is a mystery). On the plus side, the new missions on offer do contain some nice new textures that add a bit more colour to the game. Few have forgotten about the brown-centric colour palette of the original game.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but every level you will come across sucks. There are so many amateur-mistakes and questionable design choices, like overy-spacious rooms, clusters of enemies hastily slapped together, an abundance of powerful weapons and power-ups, very few secret areas, stupid level names like “Giblet Pie” or “Entering JONLevel”, gimmicky traps, swimming sections that are borderline-impossible to get through without drowning, awkward platforming… yeah, it’s all pretty naff.
There is no build-up to any of the chapter finales, either. In fact, the very last mission can be beaten within a minute, and requires you to cross a bridge and shoot the bulky Shamblers at the end. While the final level in each chapter of the original Quake were not particularly memorable or enjoyable, at least they required some skill to beat them.
Longevity is an alien concept to Aftershock for Quake. The three chapters will take about two hours to beat in their entirety. A pile of fan-made levels downloaded from the internet are included, but these are just absolutely atrocious. Some of them don’t even have an exit. The bulk of them, however, are exclusive to deathmatch mode, but good luck trying to find anyone who will play with you. Most of them are riddled with gimmicks or symmetrical level design.
Quake has aged like a fine wine. Aftershock for Quake has aged like a corpse. The extra content, like the game launcher and bright textures, may have been a nice addition for the time, but the meat of the expansion pack is more like maggot-ridden carrion. There’s no challenge to be found, no worthwhile maps to play, and no meaningful inclusions on the whole. Quake-lovers would get more amusement from tap-dancing on landmines than from playing this.