Review: Quake II: The Reckoning

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There’s not a whole lot I can say about Quake II’s first expansion pack that I didn’t say about the base game. That’s because unlike a lot of expansions, The Reckoning hews so close to the original that it could almost be mistaken for the real thing. It isn’t a perfect copy for reasons that I’ll go into, but know up front that if you want more of the Quake II campaign, you will get exactly that.

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The Reckoning follows a smaller squad of drop-pod hard-asses launched into the outskirts of the Strogg military-industrial complex to track down and destroy a reserve fleet of spacecraft. Your pod, surprise surprise, gets knocked off course and dumps you in a swamp outside the main facility. That sets off a long and bloody journey through caves, valleys, bunkers, factories, and spaceports full of fleshy enemies to gib. The campaign is structured just like the original, with five units of interconnected levels to backtrack between. The connections are a little more convoluted this time but your objectives are helpful enough that you never really risk getting lost.

You’ll spend more time outdoors and in space this time, but there’s plenty of familiar tech bases and factories to tear apart as well. The missions are similar, with keycards and power cubes to find and setpieces to explode. Even the enemy encounters are plenty familiar, right down to gunners secreted behind boxes and centurions railing you down narrow hallways. There are a few new enemies but they’re almost all reskins of existing foes. I personally like the new guards a lot for the variety of weapons they carry, but others like the centurion and boss tank reskins are obnoxiously beefy. There’s a new mutant enemy as well but it’s hardly threatening with its ridiculous sideways lope and neon yellow innards.

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The new weapons are more welcome additions, including a vicious laser trap, a ricocheting energy weapon, and a double-barreled explosive rifle. There’s also an alternate damage powerup that lets you fire twice as fast that’s a lot of fun to mess with, and helps a lot in cutting through the denser enemies. Outside of the reskins and new guns, though, this is very much the same Quake II you know and love. The levels look good and have plenty of interesting encounters but tend to be simpler than the original ones. Most of the fights (including the final boss, I must inform you) are the same as well, with very little in the way of innovation even with the new enemies in the mix. This is by no means a bad thing for anyone who wants more Quake II (which should be everyone), so as long as you don’t mind a slightly different version of the same game you’ll get exactly what you want.

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