The Quake 2 Campaign Was Seriously Underrated

The Quake 2 Campaign Was Seriously Underrated

The absence of a proper single-player campaign, if not a story, in Star Wars: Battlefront was making me nostalgic. After all, the Star Wars shooter games had great single-player levels — and arguably decent stories, too.

So I decided to return to something that was even more classic than the Star Wars games — and had a single-player campaign that was just as much fun to run through.

I was wavering on a while whether to run with the original Quake, Quake 2 or go through Quake 4‘s campaign, but I decided to pick the second in the series. It gets left by the wayside a little, which is a tad unfair: it’s a good game for duelling, it’s perhaps the most visually vibrant of the series and the campaign is more enjoyable and has plenty of shortcuts if you want to bunnyhop around.

I didn’t make much use of those in this playthrough, but that allowed me to take more time answering questions from TAYbies.

I want to be clear here: when I say Quake 2 was underrated, I think it’s a bit underrated when people today look back on the games of that era. Quake 2 got a ton of plaudits in 1997, although it quickly faded away after Unreal Tournament and Quake 3: Arena dropped two years later. And there were a ton of really, really good single-player FPS campaigns in the years after – Soldier of Fortune, the Project IGI games, Halo, and the biggest one of all, Deus Ex.

I think Quake 2 still holds up. It’s a ton of fun and the rise of retro-centric shooters like Project Warlock, DUSK, AMID EVIL and Ion Fury are a reminder of how much fun those intricate single-player shooters could be. And thanks to the tireless work of modders and fan-made plugins and workarounds, Quake 2‘s graphics – even without going the ray-traced route, which is brutal to your frame rate even with an RTX 2080 Ti – still have a certain charm today.

This story has been updated since it was originally published.


  • Wow, I loved Abe’s oddessey and stranger’s wrath, didn’t play any others if there were any. Loved doom but never enjoyed quake.

    • There’s a sequel to Abe’s Oddessey called Abe’s Exoddus which is as good if not better than its predecessor. Then there’s Munch’s Oddessey which is probably not something you really need to play unless you’re a huge fan of Oddworld Inhabitants.

      They’re (mostly) a damn sight better than Quake 2.

  • I, too, was looking for some decent story nostalgia so I started playing SW: KOTOR on Android and I must say they’ve done a great job. The interface feels just right for touch screen.

    Equally good SW story games (IMO) would be Republic Commando and Dark Forces.

    • Dark Forces (and Jedi Knight 2) are really, really good old-school shooters. JK2 multiplayer is pretty solid too.

  • I’m with you Alex
    I loved Quake II, it was my favourite shooter until Half-Life 1+2 came along
    I find modern shooters to be somewhat stale these days, am hoping something comes along to wake that genre up for me again
    The closest to “shooters” I have played recently is Fallout 4, but that’s because its Fallout 4!

  • really? all i ever heard was how great Quake 2 was ( and it is) and that only stopped when Unreal and Half-life came out and all 3 were fucking fantastic, just a shame the sequels were pretty meh ( no im not trolling, i found halflife 2 be mind numbling boring)

  • Quake 2 wasn’t stopped by Half Life or Unreal – it was stopped by Quake 3.

    To me Quake 2 is the best iteration of Quake and I think the multiplayer aspect of it doesn’t get fully appreciated. Between these 3 mods – Rocket Arena 2, Action Quake 2 (AQ2 being the father of CS) and Gloom you really could not want for much else.

    • I think you have to attribute some love to HL there. Remember, the Goldsrc engine was built on a heavily modded version of Q2 (not Q3).

      Also, love that someone brought AQ2 up. Quality, quality mod that has basically vanished in the annals of time because of CS. But I suppose that’s how gaming is, right?

      • Maybe a small part I suppose – but HL (namely TFC and CS) were still small until after Quake 3 came out. Hell if anyone actually played the original CS they’d be flabbergasted of how differently it played – a slowed down version of AQ2 with stale map design (Quake 2 had the best map availability out there – things were so very whacky/creative).

        I remember the Wireplay server availability for Quake 2 basically vacated the moment Quake 3 released. I believe the only mod that’s still particularly played is Gloom mod which came out late in Q2’s cycle but is probably the best marine vs aliens game/mod out there; I think I checked a couple years ago and there were still a few Gloom servers to boot.

        That said Quake 3 later offered the Urban Terror mod which was the spiritual successor of AQ2 which made me very happy (CS had grown in popularity by now and resembled the slow crawl it is today) and Quake 3 Fortress which was a better TF recreation than TFC and is probably the closest thing to a real TF2 (because TF2 is actually TF lite right? lol).

        Mods/TCs (total conversions) have never really been the same post Quake 3 sadly.

      • Loved the hook mod! And I lost countless hours playing solely on the DM1 map and mods of it, such a fantastic map.

  • I don’t think Bloodborne particularly lived up to the hype. I mean yeah it was a good game but it had a number of flaws I think, not the least of which being the path to the bosses in general was much tougher than the bosses themselves. Gascoigne was the hardest fight in the game and the bosses got easier from there, not harder. The game also does a piss poor job explaining how certain mechanics like insight work, one-hit kills you every now and then because of reasons (no, random one hit kills don’t make the game harder), really off lantern placement at times (making you travel really far between them at some points, and putting a couple very close together at other points), and a complete lack of real armour options (never found a better overall armour set than the set I purchased for a few thousand echoes at the start of the game). Lastly some elements of the UI were not helpful at all…like not being able to compare attire to what you currently have *before* you buy it. Oh yeah, and you can’t pause the game even when playing offline…too bad if the phone rings in the middle of a boss fight.

    • Have you played other games in the Souls series? I found Bloodborne to be probably the most ‘user friendly’ of the Souls games. I do agree that the Gascoigne fight is pretty difficult considering it could be your first or second boss fight depending on which route you take. I would put Ebreitas, Gehrman and Logarius as more difficult fights though.. Then again they are all technically not required to finish the game.

      • No, Bloodborne was my first Souls game…the only other From Software game I have played was a somewhat obscure card-based RPG on the Gamecube called Lost Kingdoms.

        On my playthrough, the toughest boss by far was Father Gascoigne, who is the first mandatory boss in the game, and the second boss I encountered (having felled the Cleric Beast first). None of the remaining bosses matched that difficulty. Logarius was the closest, and Amygdala gave me headaches until I worked out I was approaching the fight the wrong way. Gehrman was Logarius without the ranged spells and was taken down with similar strategies, he wasn’t hard (it baffles me how some people found him harder than Logarius). Ebrietas was moderately challenging but only really because of BS one-hit kill moves…avoid those and the fight is pretty straightforward. The Celestial Emissary, Rom, One Reborn, Paarl, Witch of Hemwick, Micolash and Wet Nurse fights in particular were pretty lacklustre, the last couple of those perhaps being the most disappointing as they are the climax of a super tough area (Micolash was trying to talk me to death or something, I guess?). Pretty much every boss with the exception of Gascoigne and Amygdala I beat within 2-3 attempts, some even on my first attempt.

        The thing that gets me though is that almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this says something along the lines of “Ho ho! Wait until you try {insert boss} on NG+/NG++/NG+{x}!” – spoken in a “when”, not “if” way, like it’s actually expected that you play through the entire game again because you somehow don’t get the real experience the first time. It’s impossible to conceive the thought that someone would not want to give the game a second or third or fourth play through. No thanks…one playthrough is enough for me, I have other games to move on to, and I’m not playing through it again just to see if and how the bosses get harder.

        • Fair points. I personally really struggled with Gehrman! I’m with you on the new game plus stuff, I’ve finished both Dark Souls 1 & 2 twice each, although both supplementary playthroughs were with new characters on different systems to my original playthroughs (both originally on PS3 and then DS1 on PC and DS2 on PS4). Only finished Bloodborne once, although I may play through again depending on how the DLC is accessed.

  • i installed quake 2 into the image that got put on each of the school computers, and hid it nicely. Every time they tried to restore the computers they didn’t realise they werent getting rid of it! Many lunchtimes and boring design and technology classes were passed blowing the hell out of each other. I was perminantly banned from using the hyperblaster, as i would be untouchable!

  • I kinda ruined my Quake 2 experience by abusing quick save/ load – whenever I killed someone I quick saved, and whenever I took a hit I reloaded. I knew at the time that what I was doing was wrong, but I couldn’t stop!

    • OMG I’m not the only one.
      I literally did that and played the whole first half of the game without taking a single hit. Did the same in System Shock 2, and probably a bunch of others too.
      Did you also spend stupid amounts of hours trying to find every secret in a level before moving on (this for me was in the days before I had internet access and could look up a guide). I seriously would run around pressed up against every wall trying to find secret doorways and stuff.

    • OMG I’m not the only one.
      I literally did that and played the whole first half of the game without taking a single hit. Did the same in System Shock 2, and probably a bunch of others too.
      Did you also spend stupid amounts of hours trying to find every secret in a level before moving on (this for me was in the days before I had internet access and could look up a guide). I seriously would run around pressed up against every wall trying to find secret doorways and stuff.

  • I always loved the intro for this game. I remember watching it over and over on my PC PowerPlay demo disk. But I can’t go past the intro for the first MechWarrior. Still makes me drool with anticipation.

    I can’t remember much about the campain of Q2. which is a shame because I loved the shit out of it when it came out. The only part that really sticks out is when you get to the prison filled with your comrades who are just mumbling to themselves. That terrified me when I was 10.

  • I’ve noticed a trend in FPS games to severely reduce single-player content. Doom and Goldeneye offered an amazing amounts of content. Something I’d grown accustomed to. This wave of six-hour setpieces I find annoying, especially because my net isn’t sufficient enough to run the multiplayer portions of the games.

  • So, I don’t think ‘underrated’ is used appropriately here.

    To underrate something is to underestimate the extent, value, or importance of it. Quake 2 was always *highly* praised for its campaign back when it was released and for a long time after. It’s multiplayer was always highly praised too? I think we’re rewriting history to say otherwise? I know this is an old article, but I seriously remember reviews of this game praising the hell out of it, fans loving the game, it was a genre defining property. Definitely not underrated.

  • You missed the best part of Quake 2 singleplayer: mission pack 2 Ground Zero. That is everything original Q2 singleplayer wants to be and compares pretty well to most modern retro FPS campaigns.
    Only thing better was Q1 mission pack 1 Scourge of Armagon…

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