Yep, I'm playing a total, nay, ultraconversion of Quake. I'm allowed to do that because I bought it in a very big and very real box from a charity shop for £1.50. And because I feel like it.
According to the box, I've got "9 Full Voice Cut Scenes" to look forward to!
The game just dumps me at this pyramid place in the middle of nowhere with a pistol and expects me to get on with it.
There's no difficulty portals in Malice. You have to change the skill level in the console manually. It's got new Duke Nukem 3D-like inventory items that you can use, and you have to manually reload your weapons, but the new keys you use haven't been added to the controls menu so they have to be manually reset in the console. Why go to all the trouble of packaging the game in a nice retail box with an easy-to-use installer that works perfectly and then tell people to use the console to bind impulses and set the difficulty?
And they didn't add a map. Bastards.
At the end of the tutorial you have to jump into a big pit, so you get to hear Damage yelling "OH SHIIIIIIIT!" in his amateurish way over the 'You won the level' music. It's as if he knows what he's let himself in for.
Here's a hilarious scene where our protagonist Damage shoots the Quake guy in the back as he's running away, and calls then him an asswipe. Ha-hah!
Damage was a mercenary working for Bossman, a cigar-smoking underground crime boss robotic blob monster. Bossman doesn't want to pay up. Damage decides it's a good idea to do another mission for Bossman because that's what you do when people don't pay.
Would you like to know what happens if you press a button? The main menu comes up. And if you're idly hammering, say, the Return key? Main menu. New Game. Start.
And there's no autosaves. I'm glad I found this out before I got somewhere in the damn game.
Quake! Except... I don't know. It's just Quake, really.
Ah! It's got a whole new set of guns! This shotgun fires four rounds at once.
You've got to be highly alert when playing this game. Everything moves really, really fast.
All this minigun does is waste ammo. Precious Uzi ammo, at that.
I've opened a lab somewhere! And the lab was the sealed door at the very start of the level. Back we go!
Inside that red beam cage is the secret technology that Bossman wants me to steal. I think.
That rope guy looks pretty cool dangling from the ceiling, but I've been finding his like everywhere. In cupboards, in mid air, in featureless corridors, everywhere.
ARGH. Every time I think I'm doing well, I run out of ammo, automatically switch to the rocket launcher and blow myself up thanks to its ridiculous splash damage radius.
In Judge Dredd, the levels were huge so I could try to run about and dodge. All I've got to choose from here are narrow walkways and pitch black corrdiors. The vampires couldn't change direction in mid-leap, but these guys are always sliding over to me at Mach 2.
Oh well, there were only a couple of them. The last level had a mixture of Uzi guys and flamethrower guys so with any luck the truncheoneers will hit them by accident and everybody will be dead before I get there.
At least the levels have great music. Together, the music and gameplay pour LIQUID ACTION into your face.
You open a door, they're behind you. You go down into a dark area, you best believe it's FULL of these guys. I got locked in an underground area that was totally black which, you guessed it, was FULL of truncheon guys. Guh.
You can run about the place like a madman, but you have to manually reload everything and there's no on-screen counter for how many bullets are left in your current gun. You have to count your bullets, or die.
There's no armour, Quad-damage, Ring of Whatever or other powerups to find in Malice, because our man Damage is too hardcore. I haven't found of those inventory items other than the parachute, and I haven't found a platform tall enough to throw Damage off yet. And I'm not sure I'd want him to survive the fall anyway.
Well, that's enough Malice. My usual rule is that I have to play until I find different graphics, but this game is as changed as it's ever going to get.
Hey! Wait a minute! I can change it. Let's see how this sucker runs in Darkplaces, a replacement Quake engine that does shiny things! (external link)
(Click these images to go to back and forth between Darkplaces and DOS versions.)
Quake ports that do all manner of magical things, but I've not tried them as my computer doesn't 'do' the whole shader jazz.)
I guess you can change the settings if you prefer the nearest-texel filtering of the DOS version over this blurry texture filtering.
I have to be even more careful now. The game feels like it's running at triple the speed it was before, and it was already pretty fast.
Shimmery textures and harsh colours made DOS Malice look like a computer game. Everything in Darkplaces looks like a paper model.
The only way to survive an encounter with these guys is to know in advance when they're going to appear. You can't anticipate them fairly because they can come from any direction or simply teleport in from nowhere. Silently.
I'm going to have to keep playing anyway, because I want to see if this game has any other textures apart from these yellow and grey ones it keeps using over and over again. Would it kill them to find another colour?
When you enter the room, the staircase leading into it retracts into the wall and a lift rises with a group of goons on it.
If I stayed in the room and tried to fight them all off in the 'normal' way, I'd have ran out of ammo for my current gun and automatically switched to the rocket launcher, meaning instant death to all.
Absurd traps call for absurd solutions; quickloads, quicksaves and using switches, items and explosives in all the wrong ways. I don't care that the game isn't deliberately designed for it. It's way better when it's not.
The levels in Malice aren't linear. They're more like a spiral. You get to the end of wherever you can access to begin with which opens another door in the starting room. And then you go around and around the same areas opening every door one by one until you open the exit immediately adjacent the door you started by. You've got to have one hell of a memory to play this game.
Isn't that door texture on the left from Duke Nukem 3D or Doom or something?
The puzzle here is to push the switch on the far wall, which retracts the bridge above the crates, so you can jump up the staircase of crates and into the upper level doors. To say it was easier said than done is an understatement.
And for your trouble, you don't get anything special. It's what you have to do to progress. I didn't find a single secret in all of Malice. The normal game progression was a unbroken series of hidden switches, impossible jumps and timing puzzles. I had to shoot a series of unremarkable boxes just to unlock and open the doors to get here.
At first I thought that this was just a pretty cool walking robot enemy that fires rockets.
Step one, get down there. Normally, you could jump down there as Damage can survive any fall thanks to the handy-dandy infinite-use parachute you find on most levels. There's a barrier stopping you from jumping. The entrance to that large room is waaaaaaay away from here, through a series of lifts hidden in darkness and destructable vent covers that look identical to indestructible ones.
After you get down there, there's a button on the opposite side of the room from the exit door that opens it temporarily. There's a fast train you can jump onto that shoots across the room when you shoot another switch. The timing to jump on the train, ram into the exit door switch, jump back onto the train and dive into the exit door before it closes is phenomenally hard. I don't think it's possible to do without holding two movement keys to move diagonally.
Looking a bit ass, to be frank. And there hasn't been a single cutscene since Damage accepted the mission from the Bossman. I grabbed the technology, didn't I? I escaped, too. What else am I supposed to be doing?
They haven't made them not teleport in behind you whenever you hit a dead end, though. In Quake, teleporting objects made a "Thwump" or "Thwiwiwiwi" sound. If these enemies are making any sound here, I can't hear it.
If anybody wants to play something that's almost identical to Quake except inside a different kind of brown box, here you go. It's like Quake mixed with... well... Quake 2. Just make sure to take some kind of crazy stimulants first, you're going to need to be operating on a whole a different level to handle these damn enemies. And make sure to revise your 'FPS level design cheap kills' book while you're at it. And get ready to draw a map.