Phrase of the Week

PHRASE OF THE WEEK: DIE JOB DEATH CAR? (Daijobu desu ka - Are you OK?) (C) Sodom

Friday, August 13, 2010

[PS] Quarantine

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Quarantine [Hard Rock Cab]
Genre: racing+FPS
PC/developer: Imagexcel
PC/publisher: GameTEK
PS/developer/publisher: Asmik
Year of release: 1994
Players: 1
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Slots on Memory Card: 1
Additional peripherals supported: none, sadly

Oh men, I haven't played a good dystopian setting game for a really long time... And notice, not the setting where 'an alien force or an atomic explosion menaces our Mother Earth and the human remains should keep the material remains all right', no, that's postapocalyptic. To explain you, why this is dystopian, lemmie explain it to you with a simple example. Every time you get from the bed (after hearing a LOUD honk, of course), you see a large projector screen with the Hilterish face shown on and the catchy title below: BIG BROTHER WATCHES YOU. Or, imagine yourself waking up in your own taxi cab after your own alarm clock signals. You take a quick bite of your own hamburger, prepare your own Uzis and get back to your own job... illegal job that instanly makes you the most wanted not only among few adequate persons (in good point) but also among these Omnicorp patrol bastards (exactly at the same meaning you thought before).
Because, as the motto says, driving a cab in this city is a murder.
Drake Edgewaters got exactly into the same shit. Before he was forced to ride on the edge, he had everything: money, loving wife, adorable children, a nifty lofty house in KEMO City (don't let the eastern feeling of this word fool you, KEMO is actually an imaginary twin of Detroit City)... But Gates seemed that he had to move to any save alpine place afterwards. Crime. That's what both KEMO and Detroit had shared in Quarantine and Robocop universe. The current heads of KEMO were so stupid that they just kept the chaos growing. No need to have a degree in politics to predict that this government was thrown into Carribean to be the dinner for sharks and was replaced with a new party represented by Omnicorp.
Like Prince John, Omnicorp indeed did something useful to prevent the chaos breaching into other cities, but their dictatorship just wanted to see the chaos growing. They merely fortified all five parts of the cities (and lead the town into quarantine mode, hence the name). The borders are sealed. The only thing that would make you come through is the password demanded from Omnicorp that required a *little fee* from you. Weirdly, despite you were criminal or not, OC gives it to you anyways.
Talking about the mysterious schizo virus that made about 60% of the population maniacs kept progressing without any reaction from OC itself. Well, yeah, they promised that they will make a cure that will be applied to every citizen. Still, it actually won't heal anyone. It will terminate the illness just like it will terminate everyone. Why? Well, that's the point of the game. Survive, blaze through all this hell, recover the cure and dispose of it! I'm not going to spoiler this time, guess what it will be.

***

Ride you cab, find the customers, deliver them save and sane (and OH, fast), get greenbucks. That will be the thing you'll do most of the time. Didn't I mention you get a lot of green bucks from only one customer? I mean, A REAL LOT. They will propose you ANY price, just in hope you deliver them savely. For them, of course. But, $875 for just one-minute ride is not really a little price, ain't it?
After all, that price is just enough to patch your car from inside to outside. The risks are pretty high, however. One reeeeaaaaally damaging run (especially on long distance) may end up with outcome of all your prey spent on ammo refill and armor repair.
Technically, it is what you would call Doom clone if you would live in mid-90... but with an attitude! Where Quarantine really worked is in popularizing the blend of FPS and racing games (not sure if it was born at the same time), which was later simplified to just taxi arcade game by such well-known project like Crazy Taxi and a lot of its' budget ripoffs the names of which I always forget. To be honest, however, I always found Quarantine more fun in gameplay features than Crazy Taxi. Sure, Crazy Taxi, as well as it's sequel, wasn't 2,5D, featured more bright locations, pumpy soundtrack... But, you know, both these games were originally made for the arcades and adopted to the arcades by default, so that says everything. Timer is enabled not only when you carry a passenger, but also when you are currently looking for him. Also, considering that the main visitors of the arcades are teens, this series were pretty tolerant in violence. You couldn't really kill stuff, only push it with your cab...
...while Quarantine actually had a lot of methods to KILL stuff, ANY stuff. It didn't really cared about the teen rating as it was one of those games that made violence fun (NOT REAL LIFE VIOLENCE DAMMIT!! Despite one of the game designers actually dreamed of riding taxi the same rad way when he was doing some crisis money... And used his dreams in this game. Remember kids, videogames help to prevent RL murders!). Cars, cabs, pedestrains, future customers, maniac killers, random grannies - all to get rid of your thirstiness for destruction. The level of violence is always compared with GTA4 series, with the latter being FAILing against this gamie. While in GTA4, the people you made suffer became fully dead after some heavy weaponry, in The Big Q, they ALWAYS SQUISHSQUASH, which can't be unfun, I swear... Unless it makes you puke.
There are a lot of methods to pull the infinite population of KEMO City down, but all they may be split into three categories: 'use your arsenal, let them boom' (with the most variations available) and 'be a tank, smash it apart'. There is a third category, however, which is really fun but rarely used: 'low on time? take him away!'. That works with the passengers only; when you see that you DEFINITELY can't deliver him or her in time, you simply eject the seat and hear your customer dying. Could be morbid in real life, but it's just a game, where there are still lotsa customers, right?
The soundtrack. Ahem... Well, it was one of the first games to use the soundtrack not made for the game specifically, no. Instead, it used lotsa songs made by random Australian alternative rock bands! About how it made the OST awesome... Flatout OST SURE was bigger and better, but the age of Quarantine actually makes me tolerable on its' music. So, it was really cool for its' times. Still is, but, personally, I find most of these ten tracks 'backgroundish'. What I really love there, however, is the authors' pick for track one: 'Berlin Wall'. That's the great choice to start the game with, while the latter tracks just keep the atmosphere pumped. In fact, that's why I called these 'backgroundish'. And now, sorry guys, honestly sorry, but I need to make myself into writing the next paragraphs... [sings] I'm the one who says it... the one who says it's... TRUE!...

***

So yeah, when this thingie became localized in Japan, it was renamed to Hard Rock Cab for some reason. But, for your information, for some really weird reason the same game was released in Japan under TWO names: Hard Rock Cab on PS and Death Throttle on 3DO. Okay, I find this plain stupid.
...and I'm still laughing on how they have left the original 'Quarantine' title where you usually start the game (WELCOME TO QUARANTINE. PRESS KEY TO START. Notice: not 'Hard Rock Cab').
So how the port feels like? Ehrm, I guess that you wouldn't expect that, but... PC perfect. Apart from Japanese text in dialogues, controlling it WITHOUT keyboard (obviously) and, last but not least green blood (whad-da-fuck?). Every scream from the original is here. Every single texture is on its' place... couldn't imagine that they would be able to fit a game that requires 4MB RAM from your old comp into a console that has only 2. Yay!
Control-wise, it's like Duke Nukem Total Meltdown. Two simple-to-understand control schemes which can be a bit messy when you're in the game. These got 'check'. But. To my frustration, this game doesn't feature the support of Dual Shock, which, considering that you still don't feel how you CRASH into the wall, how your car receives a heavy BADABOOM, how your car DRIFTS (in fact, it turns as slight as Doomguy from his heavily-awarded game) and you don't feel how your car, after it thrusts up, LANDS on the ground. This game would be simply perfect (yet still not for anyone) if not only these. When you crash into the wall, actually, you literally feel yourself like a ball in the pinball machine. These were on PC, these were deported to the PS. Oh ass... I wish the vibration feature would be here.
Another not-so-good feature that was deported directly from the original (I'll list it and end the review) is that, well... is that when you have a passenger, you usually get the compass that points to the destination area, but even with it, you may end up trying to arc the large wall (not a building unless it's really long) without any proper results, which ends up in catapulting your passenger away. There is a minimap, however, and it really helps if you get into such situations. Also, it's more accurate than compass, but there is a big problem: the fade in/out time is kinda long. It seems to be eternity when you try to use the minimap a lot. So, using compass makes you lost while using minimap slows the gameplay down.
Overall, I told you absolutely nothing about the port itself but rather listed all the major problems that the original game had (as well as the port). But in any case, I guess you will be really amused if you'll hear that... the PS version has no slowdowns. At all. Doom had. Hexen had. Duke Nukem Total Meltdown had. But this runs as smoothly as a feather! Guys, am I smoking something?
Oh, and you may save almost EVERYWHERE by using only one slot of memory card. you will hardly meet any game that saves this way, I swear.

BOTTOM LINE:
Basically, I don't have much to say. Quarantine is not a game for everyone. But, if you're the man who liked this game, then this port should be on your shelf. Of course, it has no extras at all to be superior to the PC original, but technically, you'll rarely ever meet a port like this. I pray for Asmik. Period.

SCREENSHOT TIME!

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Ehrm, wasn't that Alternative Rock? Anyways, pretty kickass title. 
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Pretty enough for a game like that. 
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AND THEY HAVE LEFT THE ORIGINAL TITLE! Wow. 
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This screenshot has a feeling of like you're riding on the territory of an airport. 
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...ack, Japanese.
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Squishing zombies is fun. And only try to disagree with me!!

1 comment:

  1. This game was sick back in the day!

    ReplyDelete