May 26, 2009

No Such Thing as a Free Game: Quake Live

Ever heard that there is no such thing as a free puppy? Sure, the puppy is free, but the food is not, veterinarian bills don't pay themselves, and that poop in the back yard isn't going to clean itself up. Nothing is ever free; there is always a price to pay.

Quake Live: Free to play, ad supported

Why Quake Live isn’t a free game: because there’s a $1,500 gaming computer sitting on the desk.

  • Free to play and the advertisements are not intrusive.
  • It runs or will run on almost any PC.*
  • Quake Live is quick and simple to get started with. The game itself downloads while players play a practice match against the computer.
  • The social and community features are well done. It’s easy to track friends and join them in matches.
  • The achievements system is well done, adds challenges, and contributes to replay value.
  • Tons of maps and several game types also keep replay value high.
  • Match-making based on skill level helps to keep a level playing field.
  • Finding a match that interests a player and offers the game type they want is dead simple. One of the best mergers of a server browser/match making system that I’ve ever seen.
  • It claims to be web browser-based, but requires an installer that runs outside of the web browser. **
  • The game does not seem to cope well with latency. Any little bump in latency or lag will result in a deteriorated play experience.
  • Game-play is twitch-based and fast. This limits the game to a niche audience.
  • The text output onto the UI is tough to read and follow.
  • The graphics are dated and special effects are lacking.

Quake Live significantly lowers the barrier for entry into the FPS gaming genre and as a game that is meant to be played in a web browser, it’s good. For those players lacking an up to date gaming rig, Quake Live is a golden opportunity. For those players with an up to date rig, like me, Quake Live feels dated. I have always believed in quality of game play over eye candy, but when I can pick up games like Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament III for $10-$20, Quake Live loses ground. However, free is free and Quake Live delivers exactly as it has promised and offers a FREE escape for a few minutes of FPS fun. For that, I give it two thumbs up. So, go give it a try!

*as of this writing, only a Windows installer is available, but they are working on Linux and MAC versions.

**the installer installs a plug-in based on the web browser being used. For me, it was Firefox, which normally can install plug-ins without the need to download an installer and regardless of what operating system I am using at the time.