The updated re-release of Quake was a rousing success, so there was no shortage of excitement when an updated version of Quake II suddenly dropped during QuakeCon 2023. And much like the first title, it's quite an impressive package.
The first thing to note is the sheer amount of content you get. You get the base game of Quake II, its entire multiplayer suite, both major expansions — 'The Reckoning' and 'Ground Zero' — the entirety of Quake II 64, and most excitingly, a brand new campaign. MachineGames created a new campaign for the update of Quake, 'Dimension of the Machine', and they've returned once again with 'Call of the Machine'. The MachineGames campaign is fascinating, and worth the impressively low price of entry on its own; the game will only set you back £7.99/$9.99. A modern campaign designed inside one of the most preeminent shooters of all time is really interesting to behold, and while many modern boomer shooters can emulate that experience, there's something to be said about getting it from the source.
While the volume of content is impressive, one area that under-delivers compared to Quake is in the gameplay. Hit detection with the starting pistol is wildly inconsistent. Luckily, you rarely have cause to use it after finding even a single other weapon, making it a nuisance at worst. However, hit detection when shooting at basic Strogg foot soldiers is also inconsistent, though some of this may be a product of updates to enemy AI. While the enemy can quite effectively dodge your bullets — with fluid animations to boot — oftentimes your shots will go right through them, even when they're simply idling.
Outside of the first few levels of the base game, which remain as bland as ever, Quake II looks exceptional. Crisp textures, vibrant, high-contrast environments, and enemies equal parts iconic and grotesque.
It’s a stunning package, filled to the brim with content both new and old, and barring the handful of small issues, it's a brilliant way to revisit one of the most iconic shooters in video games.