Quake 2 Mission Pack #2: Ground Zero
_____Once upon a time, Xatrix released the first Mission Pack to the almighty Quake II, called The Reckoning. I'll skip the fancy words this time. It sucked. Plain and simple. Graphics palette was even blander (if that was even possible) than the Quake II maps itself. The new creatures were very ugly, and very brown. Very drab. Level design... not even worth playing. Last but not least, there were... count 'em... ZERO new weapons!
_____Into the story hops Rogue, a very talented designing team made famous for their mission pack #2: Dissolution of Eternity in classic quake. They hope to revitalize the mission pack energy that was lost in The Reckoning. Thus Ground Zero was born. Screenshots were fired onto the internet, hype surrounding new weapons and new deathmatch levels got many Quake fans excited.
_____The real meat is in the multiplayer. The neat new weapons (ETF rifle, Proximity mine launcher, Plasma Beam) and the new items (Artifact spheres, Tesla mines, and Anti-Matter bomb) introduce a new dimension of deathmatch. You can plant different kinds of mines at critical corners, pop proximity mines behind you to cover your trail, etc... Check out the screenshots below for the new goodies. The ETF rifle is similar to the nailgun in Quake 1, except it's slower and it punctures right through any armor the person may be wearing. The plasma beam reminded me of the Lightning shaft of classic Quake, but instead of a lightning beam, it's a plasma beam (duh!). Different artifact spheres do different actions, such as the hunter sphere, which "hunts down" and kills the punk who, just a few seconds ago, fragged you to pieces. The tesla mine is a mine which shoots out a string of electric jolt whenever you walk too close to the mine. That includes the person who first set it off, so you have to be careful too. My favorite is the Anti Matter bomb. It's basically a nuclear weapon. Clunk it wherever you want it to be, and after a few seconds, it'll start ticking and finally explode and kill everybody that's remotely close by! =)
_____Single player is not the strong point of Ground Zero, but it's playable, and even slightly enjoyable. The early levels like to light the environment with pretty red and blue lights, and there are enough enemies to keep you on your toes most of the time. I've seen a lot of reviews bashing the single player of Ground Zero as very bland and boring and blah blah junk junk... But hey, that's single player for you. It's how the genre has always been until now (SiN and Half-Life promises to revolutionize the single player aspect). Flipping switches and looking for keys may be getting sort of boring, I admit, but some people may enjoy it. Ground Zero executes switch-flipping and key-looking perfectly down to the toe, and throws in some variation occationally to make things a bit interesting. A couple of new bosses (I won't spoil anything) also made their way into Ground Zero.
_____So do they fulfill their ambitions, in their quest to pump one final breath into the aging Quake II engine? In my opinion, yes! This mission pack was soo much of an improvement over the original mission pack. Rogue shows its designing muscles again with some new weapons and items in the game! All new deathmatch levels and new bosses for the single player missions make Ground Zero a nice little addition to your computer shelf (and it's not all that expensive either). It's not a very ground breaking achievement or anything, but I'd say it's pretty solid fun for your money.
*Note: These screenshots will open up a new window