Quake 2 will always have a special place in my heart. I was a huge Doom fan when it came out, so of course I was all over Quake when it arrived. Quake, of course, was fundamentally different, but it didn't disappoint. Then I got Quake II when it was released. I loved it. It was dark, gritty, and replaced Quake's fantasy elements with a futuristic sci-fi theme. The guns seemed so new and different, including the now-ubiquitous railgun. I was in love!
Part of the charm with this game was its OpenGL support. When I got it, I had a brand-new Voodoo 3 3000 gfx card. That was pretty top of the line at the time (BRB, pouring one out for Voodoo). I turned the OpenGL on, and I couldn't believe how great the game looked.
The funny (tragic?) thing is, I was starting to grow up when I got Quake II . I was fourteen years old, but at that age, I was starting to play music professionally, chase girls, and I attempted to do some homework in the in-between time. I played through Q2, but just didn't have the time I did when I was really into Doom. I was ten when Doom came out (and maybe eleven or twelve when I got the computer to play it on), so I really had time to run it into the ground. I beat it (on every difficulty) and found every secret. I didn't have that luxury with Quake or Quake II.
Just this last year, I decided to play through Quake II again. If you believe it, it just wasn't fun anymore. The game had some positive aspects. I still loved the sci-fi setting. The soundtrack is killin' (thanks to Sonic Mayhem). The story isn't half-bad for a FPS (though I wouldn't call it half-good either). Now, for the negative: the pacing is terribly, terribly slow. You assume the game has a slow start, but it never picks up. I have no idea why id abandoned the lightning-fast pace of Doom and Quake, but they did. Maybe the goal was to make the game more realistic and suspenseful? In any case, it's a shame that the enemies are so few and far between, and easy to defeat.
Beyond that, it is a nice, balanced game, and at least it's not a take-cover-while-your-shield-recharges type, but it just doesn't hold my attention anymore. I didn't even finish the game.
Quake II was originally produced as a new, independent franchise by id. They only called it Quake II after they failed to come up with a good name and a unique way to market it. This shows its endemic problem; Quake II has no element of differentiation.
I will say, the first mission pack (The Reckoning) is an improvement on the game. It has a good story line, and the new enemies and weapons are positive enhancements. The pacing is a bit better, but it also feels like a slow start that never sees completion. The other mission pack, Ground Zero, fails to improve on the game in any way.
Quake II still has a place in my heart, but not on my hard drive. It fails to pass the test of time and your gaming hours are better spent elsewhere.