One of the _only_ good reasons to have Win'95 laying around...

CobraBoy (
Tue, 20 Aug 1996 19:20:09 -0700

Carnage Knowledge

=46orget the psychosexual implications: 'Quake,' the ultraviolent offspring
of the best-selling 'Doom,' is a smashing computer game despite its

BY BOB STRAUSS (Illustration by Hungry Dog Studio)

What might Sigmund Freud make of a game like QUAKE
(id Software, CD-ROM for PC, $50 for
four-episode version; single-episode shareware
version available over the Internet at In this follow-up to Doom, one
of the most popular computer games of all
time, players are represented on screen by a
succession of lethal, priapic weapons that pump bullets,
shotgun shells, and nine-inch nails into bad guys.
Arguably, there are more violent games - the Mortal
Kombat series is no Sunday in the Park With George -
but Quake, like its daddy, Doom, and its
granddaddy, Wolfenstein 3D, reduces participants to
grunting, ambulatory phallic symbols.

Of course, as Freud himself might say, sometimes a
double-barreled shotgun is just a double-barreled
shotgun. So, leaving aside the supposition that 90
percent of Quake's audience consists of sexually
frustrated males, it's worth examining this game's
incredible carnage quotient - and asking how society
got to the point where it's acceptable to link up
with pals over a worldwide computer network (the way
to play, unless you prefer a more solitary
experience) and blow their virtual heads off.

It all started four years ago with id's Wolfenstein
3D, a primitive gorefest that at least had the virtue
of a well-defined enemy - to wit, Nazis. Although Wolfenstein 3D was
probably the bloodiest game of its day, it's hard to hold
id responsible for desensitizing impressionable teens when Nazis have been
blown up, impaled, and incinerated in 50 years of
World War II movies. Though Doom is populated mainly by bloodthirsty
demons, players get to decimate enough Homo sapiens
that the game veers, at times, uncomfortably close to an interactive snuff
movie. (It doesn't help that game hackers can alter the
appearance of the bad guys to resemble their bosses, or even custom-design
levels to resemble their places of work.)

Which brings us to Quake, an extended bit of subterranean mayhem that
offers three major improvements over its immediate
predecessor. First, the game's graphics have more depth: Its dank
corridors, twisty labyrinths, and shaky bridges over lethal
rivers of flame give you the uncanny feeling of being trapped in a
textured, sharp-cornered nightmare, rather than in the
flattened-out hallucinations of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Second, the
under-your-skin sound effects and ambient music on the
$50 disc were composed by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, who's been known
to ponder a few issues concerning sex,
violence, and gruesome death. And third, on a simple cost-per-kill basis,
Quake is the most cathartic experience you can legally
have within the confines of your own home, as you blow away vicious dogs,
brutish ogres, and armed-to-the-teeth enemy
infantrymen (although, unlike Doom, you can't paste your spouse's face onto
a demon's body). It may not be healthy - heck, it
may not even be normal - but it is a lot of fun.

As with Doom, id Software has made the first episode of Quake available as
free shareware via the Internet, thus luring players
to cough up cash for the full, four-episode version (which you'll
eventually be able to download for a fee from the company's
website or buy on CD-ROM). When I was in elementary school, well-meaning
teachers used to present this as the modus
operandi of drug dealers: Get kids hooked on free samples, then rake in the
dough when they need to satisfy their joneses. And
anyone who's ever experienced an officeful of twentysomethings playing
networked Doom - shouts of "Die, you sonofabitch!"
punctuating the tap-tap-tap of computer keyboards - will marvel at the
variety of things people can get themselves addicted to.

It may not surprise you, then, that I feel a deep inner conflict about
assigning this game a grade. My superego says it deserves an
=46, but beware the monsters of the id - they give it a B+.


Having grown up in L.A. and not having so many emotional problems as Bob, I
give it an A. If they would do a Snake Plissken Escape disk I'd be in
heaven=8A :-)


-=3D -=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-= =3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D- Inertia makes morons of a lot of people. -=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D -=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-