Quake II

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Quake II
Developer(s) id Software
Publisher(s) Activision
Distributor(s) Macmillan Digital Publishing USA (Linux)
Director(s) Kevin Cloud
Designer(s) Kevin Cloud
American McGee
Tim Willits
Programmer(s) Brian Hook
George John Cash IV[1]
John Carmack
Artist(s) Adrian Carmack
Kevin Cloud
Composer(s) Sonic Mayhem[a]
Series Quake
Engine id Tech 2
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, AmigaOS, Classic Mac OS, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Linux, Xbox 360, Zeebo, Dreamcast
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Quake II is a first-person shooter video game released in December 1997. It was developed by id Software and published by Activision. It is not a direct sequel to Quake; id decided to revert to an existing trademark when they were unable to agree on a new name that did not violate another company's trademark.[3]

The soundtrack for Quake II was mainly provided by Sonic Mayhem, with some additional tracks by Bill Brown; the main theme was also composed by Bill Brown and Rob Zombie, and one track was by Jer Sypult.


The single-player mode in Quake II involves gun-battles often with multiple enemies in large, outdoor areas.

The game is played in general first-person shooter paradigms, in which the player shoots enemies from the perspective of the main character. The gameplay is very similar to that featured in Quake, in terms of movement and controls, although the player's movement speed has been slowed down, and the player now has the ability to crouch. The game retains four of the eight weapons from Quake (the Shotgun, Super Shotgun, Grenade Launcher, and Rocket Launcher), although they have been redesigned visually and made to function in slightly different ways. The remainder of Quake's eight weapons (the Axe, Nailgun, Super Nailgun, and Thunderbolt) are not present in Quake II. The six newly introduced weapons are the Blaster, Machine Gun, Chain Gun, Hyperblaster, Railgun, and BFG10K. The Quad Damage power up from Quake is still present in Quake II, and new power-ups include the Ammo Pack, Invulnerability, Bandolier, Enviro-Suit, Rebreather, and Silencer.

The single player game features a number of changes from Quake. First, the player is given mission-based objectives that correspond to the storyline, including stealing a Tank Commander's head to open a door and calling down an air-strike on a bunker. CGI cutscenes are used to illustrate the player's progress through the main objectives, although they are all essentially the same short piece of video, showing a computerized image of the player character as he or she moves through game's levels. Another addition is the inclusion of a non-hostile character type: the player character's captured comrades. It is not possible to interact with these characters, however, as they have all been driven insane by their Strogg captors.

The game features much larger levels than Quake, with many more wide open areas. There is also a hub system that allows the player to travel back and forth between levels, which is necessary to complete certain objectives. Some of the textures and symbols that appear in the game are very similar to some of those found in Quake. Enemies also demonstrate visible wounds after they have taken damage.


The multiplayer portion is similar to that of Quake. It can be played as a free-for-all deathmatch game mode, a cooperative version of the single-player game, or as a 1 vs 1 match that is used in official tournaments, like the Cyberathlete Professional League. It can also be played in Capture the Flag mode (CTF). The deathmatch game benefited from the release of eight specifically designed levels that id Software added after the game's initial release. They were introduced to the game via one of the early patches, that were released free of charge. Prior to the release of these maps, players were limited to playing multiplayer games on the single-player levels, which, while functional as multiplayer levels, were not designed with deathmatch gameplay specifically in mind.

As in Quake, it is possible to customize the way in which the player appears to other people in multiplayer games. However, whereas in Quake, the only option was to change the color of the player's uniform unless third party modifications were used, now the game comes with a selection of three different player models: a male marine, a female marine, and a male cyborg; choice of player model also affects the speech effects the player's character will make, such as exhaling in effort while jumping or groaning when injured. Each model can be customized from in the in-game menu via the selection of pre-drawn skins, which differ in many ways; for example, skin color, camouflage style, and application of facepaint.


Quake II takes place in a science fiction environment. In the single-player game, the player assumes the role of a Marine named Bitterman taking part in "Operation Alien Overlord", a desperate attempt to prevent an alien invasion of Earth by launching a counterattack against the home planet of the hostile Strogg civilization. Most of the other soldiers are captured or killed as soon as they approach the planned landing zone. Bitterman survives only because another Marine's personal capsule collided with his upon launch, causing him to crash far short of the landing zone. It falls upon Bitterman to penetrate the Strogg capital city alone and assassinate the Strogg leader, the Makron.


Unlike its predecessor, Quake II's engine allows for colored lighting effects and skyboxes.

Originally, Quake II was supposed to be an entirely new game and IP; titles like 'Strogg,' 'Lock and Load,' and even just 'Load' were toyed with in the early days of development. But after numerous failed attempts, the team at id decided to stick with 'Quake II' and forego the gothic Lovecraftian theme from the original in favor of a more sci-fi aesthetic.

"It was a conscious decision [to change Quake II's direction] and controversial inside the company. We weren't happy with the [original] Quake story. [John] Romero was gone, so there was no one left to defend it. Kevin Cloud headed up Quake II and he wanted to make it story-driven." — Todd Hollenshead[4]

Artist and co-owner Adrian Carmack had said that Quake II is his favorite game in the series because "it was different and a cohesive project."[4]

Unlike Quake, where hardware accelerated graphics controllers were supported only with later patches, Quake II came with OpenGL support out of the box. Later downloads from id Software added support for AMD's 3DNow! instruction set for improved performance on their K6-2 processors, and Rendition released a native renderer for their V1000 graphics chip. The latest version is 3.21. This update includes numerous bug fixes and new levels designed for multiplayer deathmatch. Version 3.21, available as source code on id Software's FTP server, has no improved functionality over version 3.20 and is simply a slight modification to make compiling for Linux easier.

Quake II uses an improved client–server network model introduced in Quake. The game code of Quake II, which defines all the functionality for weapons, entities, and game mechanics, can be changed in any way because id Software published the source code of their own implementation that shipped with the game. Quake II uses the shared library functionality of the operating system to load the game library at run-time—this is how mod authors are able to alter the game and provide different gameplay mechanics, new weapons, and much more. The full source code to Quake II version 3.19 was released under the terms of the GNU GPL on December 22, 2001. Version 3.21 followed later. A LCC-friendly version was released on January 1, 2002 by a modder going by the name of Major Bitch.[5]

Since the release of the Quake II source code, several third-party update projects to the game engine have been created; the most prominent of these are projects focused on graphical enhancements to the game such as Quake2maX, EGL, Quake II Evolved, and KMQuake II. The source release also revealed numerous critical security flaws which can result in remote compromise of both the Quake II client and server. As id Software no longer maintains Quake II, most third-party engines include fixes for these bugs. The unofficial patch 3.24 that fixes bugs and adds only meager tweaks is recommended for Quake II purists, as it is not intended to add new features or be an engine mod in its own right.[6] The most popular server-side engine modification for multiplayer, R1Q2, is generally recommended as a replacement for the 3.20 release for both clients and servers. In July 2003, Vertigo Software released a port of Quake II for the Microsoft .NET platform, using Managed C++, called Quake II .NET.[7] It became a poster application for the language, showcasing the powerful interoperability between .NET and standard C++ code. It remains one of the top downloads on the Visual C++ website. In May 2004, Bytonic Software released a port of Quake II (called Jake2) written in Java using JOGL. In 2010 Google ported Jake2 to HTML5, running in Safari and Chrome.[8]

Quake II's game engine was a popular license, and formed the basis for several commercial and free games, such as CodeRED: Alien Arena, War§ow, SiN, Anachronox, Heretic II, Daikatana, Soldier of Fortune, Kingpin: Life of Crime, and UFO: Alien Invasion. Valve Corporation's 1998 video game Half-Life, which went on to sell over eight million copies, was originally going to use the Quake II engine during early development stages. However, the final version runs on a heavily modified version of the Quake engine, GoldSrc, with a small amount of the Quake II code.


Ports of Quake II were released in 1999 on the Nintendo 64 (ported by Raster Productions) and PlayStation (ported by Hammerhead) video game consoles.[citation needed] In both cases, the core gameplay was largely identical; however, changes were made to the game sequence and split-screen multiplayer replaced network or Internet play. A Macintosh port was developed by Logicware and released in 1999.[citation needed] Quake II: Colossus (Quake II with both official add-ons) was ported to Linux by id Software and published by Macmillan Digital Publishing in 1999.[citation needed] Be Inc. officially ported Quake II: Colossus to the BeOS to test their OpenGL acceleration in 1999, and provided the game files for free download at a later date—a Windows, Macintosh, or Linux install CD was required to install the game, with the official add-ons being optional.

Jake2 is a Quake II port shown by the JOGL team for JavaOne 2004, to present an example of Java-OpenGL interoperability. Jake2 has since been used by Sun as an example of Java Web Start capabilities for games distribution over the Internet.[citation needed] In 2009, Tectoy Digital ported Quake II to the Brazilian gaming console Zeebo.[citation needed] The game is available for free, but does not feature CG movies or multiplayer support of any kind.

Quake II on the PlayStation

The PlayStation version contains abridged versions of Units 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10 of the PC version, redesigned to meet the console's technical limitations.[1][2] For example, many short airlock-like corridors were added to maps to provide loading pauses inside what were contiguous areas in the PC version. In addition, part of the first mission of the N64 port is used as a prologue. Some enemy types were removed and two new enemies was added: the Arachnid, a human-spider cyborg with twin railgun arms, and the Guardian, a bipedal boss enemy. Saving the game is only possible between levels and at mid-level checkpoints where the game loads, while in the PC version the game could be saved and loaded at any time. The game supports the PlayStation Mouse peripheral to provide a greater parity with the PC version's gameplay. The music used in this port is a combination of the Quake II original music score and tracks from the PC version's mission packs, while the opening and closing cut-scenes are taken from the Ground Zero expansion pack.

The PlayStation version uses a new engine developed by Hammerhead for their future PlayStation projects [3] and runs at a 520x240 resolution at 30 frames per second.[4] The developer was keen to retain a visual parity with the PC version and avoid tricks such as the use of environmental fog. Colored lights for levels and enemies, and yellow highlights for gunfire and explosions, are carried across from the PC version, with the addition of lens flare effects located around the light sources on the original lightmaps. There is no skybox; instead, a flat Gouraud-textured purple sky is drawn around the top of the level. The game uses particles to render blood, debris, and rail gun beams analogously to the PC version.

There is also a split-screen multiplayer mode for two to four players (a four player game is possible using the PlayStation's Multi-tap). The only available player avatar is a modified version of the male player avatar from the PC version, the most noticeable difference being the addition of a helmet. Players can only customize the color of their avatar's armor and change their name. The twelve multiplayer levels featured are unique to the PlayStation version, with none of the PC multiplayer maps being carried over.

The Nintendo 64 version has completely different single player levels and multiplayer maps, and features multiplayer support for up to four players. This version also has new lighting effects, mostly seen in gunfire, and also uses the Expansion Pak for extra graphical detail. This port also features an entirely new soundtrack, consisting mostly of dark ambient pieces, composed by Aubrey Hodges.

A port of Quake II was included with Quake 4 for the Xbox 360 on a bonus disc. This is a direct port of the original game, with some graphical improvements.[9] However, it allows for System Link play for up to sixteen players, split-screen for four players, and cooperative play in single-player for up to sixteen players or four players with split-screen alone.


As with the original Quake, Quake II was designed to allow players to easily create custom content. A large number of mods, maps, graphics such as player models and skins, and sound effects were created and distributed to others free of charge via the Internet. Popular websites such as PlanetQuake and Telefragged allowed players to gain access to custom content. Another improvement over Quake was that it was easier to select custom player models, skins, and sound effects because they could be selected from an in-game menu. Two unofficial expansions were released on CDs in 1998: Zaero, developed by Team Evolve and published by Macmillan Digital Publishing,[citation needed] and Juggernaut: The New Story, developed by Canopy Games and published by HeadGames Publishing.[citation needed] Other notable mods include Action Quake 2, Rocket Arena, Weapons Factory, Loki's Minions Capture the Flag, and RailwarZ Insta-Gib Capture the Flag.


Despite the title, Quake II is a sequel to the original Quake in name only. The scenario, enemies, and theme are entirely separate and do not fall into the same continuity as Quake. id initially wanted to set it separately from Quake, but due to legal reasons (most of their suggested names were already taken), they decided to use the working title.[citation needed] Quake II was also adopted as a name to leverage the popularity of Quake.[10] Quake II has been released on Steam, but this version does not include the soundtrack. The game was released on a bonus disc included with Quake 4 Special Edition for the PC, along with both expansion packs. This version also lacks the soundtrack. Quake II is also available on a bonus disc with the Xbox 360 version of Quake 4. This version is a direct port featuring the original soundtrack and multiplayer maps.


Quake II Mission Pack: The Reckoning[edit]

Quake II Mission Pack: The Reckoning was the first official mission pack, released on May 31, 1998. It was developed by Xatrix Entertainment. It features eighteen new single player levels, six new deathmatch levels, three new weapons (the Ion Ripper, Phalanx Particle Cannon, and Trap), a new power-up, two new enemies, seven modified versions of existing enemies, and five new music tracks. The storyline follows Joker, a member of an elite squad of marines on a mission to infiltrate the Moon Base and destroy the Strogg fleet, which is preparing to attack. Joker crash lands in the swamps outside of the compound where his squad is waiting. Joker travels through the swamps and bypasses the compounds outer defenses and enters through the main gate. Joker finds his squad just in time to watch them get executed by Strogg forces. Joker escapes on his own to the fuel refinery where he helps the Air Force destroy all fuel production. Afterwards, Joker infiltrates the Strogg spaceport, boards a cargo ship and reaches the Moon Base, destroying it and the Strogg fleet.

Quake II Mission Pack: Ground Zero[edit]

Main article: Quake II: Ground Zero

Quake II Mission Pack: Ground Zero was the second official mission pack, released on August 31, 1998. It was developed by Rogue Entertainment. It features fourteen new single player levels, ten new deathmatch levels, five new weapons (the Chainsaw, Explosive-Tipped Flechette Rifle, Plasma Beam, Proximity Mine Launcher, and Tesla Mine), seven new power-ups, five new enemies, and five new music tracks. The Gravity Well has trapped the Earth fleet in orbit above the planet. The storyline follows Stepchild, one of the marines who managed to land, who must now make his way to the Gravity Well to destroy it, free the fleet above, and disable the defenses of the entire planet.


Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 87.31%[11]
(N64) 81.27%[12]
(PS) 79.81%[13]

Quake II received positive reviews. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave the PC version 87.31%,[11] the Nintendo 64 version 81.27%,[12] and the PlayStation version 79.81%.[13]


  1. ^ The Nintendo 64 version of the game was composed by Aubrey Hodges.


  1. ^ http://www.quakewiki.net/archives/legacy/interviews/cash.htm
  2. ^ Search: (18 November 2005). "Quake 4 Release Information for Xbox 360". GameFAQs. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Berghammer, Billy (3 August 2007). "QuakeCon 2007: John Carmack Talks Rage, Id Tech 5 And More". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Retro Gamer (2016). "20 Years of Quake". Retro Gamer (154): 18, 27. 
  5. ^ "Quake II Engine Source for LCC Compiler". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  6. ^ "Quake2 3.24 Unofficial Patch: Released!". The Quake2 Café. Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  7. ^ http://www.vertigosoftware.com/Quake2.htm Vertigosoftware.com
  8. ^ Ramsdale, Chris (2010-04-01). "Look ma, no plugin!". Google Web Toolkit Blog. Google. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  9. ^ Linneman, John (February 15, 2015). "Quake 2 on Xbox 360: the first console HD remaster". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ Paul Jaquays quote in the PlanetQuake Quake II FAQ Archived October 12, 2004, at the Wayback Machine..
  11. ^ a b "Quake II for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Quake II for Nintendo 64". GameRankings. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Quake II for PlayStation". GameRankings. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 

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