Quake III: Arena (Sega Dreamcast, 2000)
Abandon all hope, ye who enter the wretched halls of the Vadrigar. Their lust for a pure blood sport with a heavy emphasis on the blood has pushed this mysterious race to construct the Eternal Arena, a massive coliseum of smaller arenas designed for maximum carnage and efficient blood drainage. They have the ability to bring crushed, mangled, and exploded combatants back from the dead, in perfect health, so that they might be crushed, mangled, and exploded all over again. And they also have the power to pluck fighters from anywhere out of time, throwing them into the fray at their wicked will and leisure. <br><br>Such is the storyline behind Quake III Arena for the Dreamcast. Not surprisingly, this plot doesn't have much to do with the game, other than give it a very loose string to tie all of the design elements and themes together. This particular manifestation of Quake mainly focuses on the game mode previously maligned to secondary status in the world of first person shooters: deathmatch. <br><br>Quake III Arena is a first person shooter that thrusts you into a competition against other warriors armed with the same weapons and abilities as you. The goal of the game is violently simple: kill others. Your death will be an unfortunate but repetitive experience, and its only real hindrance is keeping you from killing others, which as previously stated, is the whole point of your Quake III existence.<br><br>The single player aspect of Quake III is not the focus of the game. Rather, it is a primer to prepare one for the multiplayer experience. In this mode, players progress through various tiers consisting of several levels apiece. At the end of each tier they fight a boss who is usually a touch more crafty than the other characters, who are modeled in many different ways but possess essentially similar skill sets. These computer-controlled bots do their best to interact like their human counterparts, and there is some variety in movement and strategy amongst them.<br><br>The Dreamcast version of Quake III Arena sports some significant differences from the original PC version, which was released nearly a year before the DC port. The most important change, perhaps, is that deathmatches are limited to a maximum of four warriors at once, a significant downgrade from the PC version. Due to the Dreamcast's limited RAM, some levels have been cut as well, replaced by smaller or more efficient Dreamcast-exclusive maps.<br><br>Games can be played over Sega.net or with players' personal ISPs. Sega controls the hundreds of servers itself, and although the more popular mods of the day aren't available to Dreamcast players, Sega can set up servers that change certain aspects of gameplay, if they so choose to do so. When id and Sega release the Dreamcast maps for the PC, cross-platform play will be available, but there will still be Dreamcast-only servers for those that don't want to deal with the DSL-sporting PC masses.<br><br>There are a wide variety of levels to play in Quake III, from futurist bases to hellish constructions adorned with enough Satanic flourishes to give parents glorious nightmares. Quake III offers nine weapons, from the cumbersome Gauntlet to the powerful BFG 10K. Gamers who love their Dreamcast gamepads can stick to them, but those seeking a more authentic experience can hook up the Dreamcast keyboard and mouse and play the game as originally intended. Capture the Flag is included in this release, and for those who want multiplayer action without the hassles of going online, split-screen action is available for both Capture the Flag and deathmatch.