Quake (Switch) Review
For whatever reason, Quake hasn’t been as ported to as many things officially as Doom; perhaps it initially was the performance gap, but Quake has been sitting dormant for a while, relying on the community to keep it alive. Now Bethesda, Machine Games, and NightDive Studios have brought it back, and better than ever.
While it might seem quaint now, Quake was one of the first first-person shooters to be entirely in 3D with 3D models for everything instead of sprites. Quake was a real achievement for its time and evolution of first-person shooters, and elements of it are still with us today.
Quake is a fast-moving game, and you’ll need to keep moving to survive. There’s no regenerative health, no aids and no autosave — just pure first-person shooting action. Despite the speed, the game promotes exploration and is one of the first entirely 3D games. Quake’s level design has some real height. Enemies and secrets are all over, up and down and hidden below things. Weapons have a real weight to them. When you fire, you’re pushed back; it’s up to you to remain in control and plough your way through levels. You’ll have to be methodical in your madness, as just running through levels doesn’t work. It’s a dance almost and feels a lot like how Doom Eternal feels now.
Quake here on the Switch isn’t, however, just Quake that was released in 1996. It’s the entire game, plus two expansions initially released back in the 90s. There are also two new campaigns from developers, MachineGames. Whether it’s the original content or the new, once you step through those gritty hub worlds and into the Slipgate, the grimy, dank atmosphere of the levels ooze through even with the older blocky aesthetic. The newer levels are more advanced but fit the game overall.
Like the Doom remasters, Quake also supports add-ons; there’s only one for now, but it’s a big one for Nintendo fans. I mentioned that Quake didn’t have many ports, but one it did get was Quake 64. The entirety of that game is available to play here within this port. The different soundtrack, the slightly different levels and look are here, complete with a CRT filter. While the PC version soundtrack by Trent Reznor is terrific, the N64 one by Aubrey Hodges also fits the game well. I hope to see even more add-ons added here in the future.
While the Quake 64 add-on takes things back to the 90s, there’s no need to fear for those not so nostalgic. The rest of this version of Quake has been given a complete 2021 treatment with multiple graphical options. You can turn on antialiasing, ambient occlusion, depth of field and even motion blurring. If you want to go hardcore 90s, you can turn off model interpolation so the janky animations from Quake 64 and the DOS version return. You can dial a Quake experience you remember, or if you’re new to Quake, have it with all the modern niceties.
While the other consoles will enjoy a 4K presentation, the Switch’s 1080p docked is still higher than most PCs could ever run it, and it runs flawlessly here on the Switch. The handheld mode can see some dips depending on what you’re doing and what graphical options you have on, but it’s never annoying enough in the way of gibbing your mates.
Speakings of mates, Quake is fully loaded in terms of multiplayer modes. You can play the entire campaign suite with up to four players locally or online. Online you can play with eight players or four players split-screen as well. The game has dedicated servers (with an Australian server just added), and there’s also peer-to-peer support for custom matches. All of this is crossplay as well, so you can play Quake no matter what console your friend has (PC players are also support, assuming they’re playing with a controller)—surprisingly accurate motion controls, complete the modern overhaul.
Quake is still a fantastic game all these years later; it’s a pure first-person shooter experience without the fluff. Like the Doom ports before it, we’ve got a complete package here. An extra stuffed campaign, cooperative play, deathmatch locally and online, voice chat, and so many options are all for a meagre price tag. Quake is a lesson on presenting an older game so everyone can enjoy it now and into the future.
+ Vintage 90s first-person action wrapped up in a modern package
+ Online is robust and still a lot of fun, even has voice chat
+ Options options options
- Online on Switch can take a few goes to get into
- Framerate on portable can dip with everything turned on
- Controls are a bit clunky, might take a little tweaking to get right