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July 28, 2009 / Joe Osborne

Hands-On: Quake Live Open Beta (Windows)

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Yes folks, id Software’s Quake Live, the 100% free (advertising paid) and browser based edition of Quake III Arena, released in open beta February 24th. Forget all of your preconceptions of beta testing games as the title runs without nearly any hitches. Well, at least hitches affecting core game play mechanics, but we’ll get into that later.

The game retains everything you hardcore Quake fans out there love about the first-person shooter (FPS) on steroids and Muscle Milk. The ridiculously explosive weapons, the goofy man-grunts, and intoxicating trance tunes are all included for your late night (or early morning) binges of blink-less fragging. Find more details after the break.

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Quake Live is simple to install: Just create an account, download the browser plug-in, and you’re good to go. After installation the games mascot, Crash, forces you to do battle with her before she releases you into the fast-paced, sometimes harsh world of competitive shooters, but with good reason. Based upon how you perform against Crash is how Quake Live matches you up with other players initially. In other words, Crash makes it so that you are always playing matches with players of your skill level. This is an amazing feature for FPS newcomers, who may not know strafing from leading a shot, and veterans alike.

Finding a match is fairly easy and your search can be fine tuned with search filters based on region, game difficulty, map settings and even game state, which means either the game has just started, is in warm up phase, or is already underway. The types of matches currently include the basics such as Death Match, Capture the Flag and Free-for-All. Novelty match types make their way in as well like “Instagib“, shorthand for instant giblets, which allows players to equip only a laser rifle that allows for one hit kills that cause your victims to explode in gory goodness. Who makes this stuff up?

Once you’re in playing one of Quake Live’s several match types against living, breathing people, gameplay is standard-yet-hopelessly-addictive FPS fare: Collect power-ups, armor and weapons as quickly as possible, turn your enemies into piles of pixelated goo and repeat. Sounds simple, yes, but also endlessly appealing and difficult to master.

The only hitches found currently are the lack of certain features (now that the 30 minute to one hour queues of last week are gone) such as some forms of stat tracking and a few of the achievements that have been taken down temporarily. Other than these few bumps in the road, Quake Live succeeds as a beta because if you missed the word “beta” below the game’s current logo, you would barely notice it’s a beta test at all.

There are no words from id Software on an official release, but expect it to be a while before Quake Live moves on from beta as there are plenty more features id Software are planning to add. Can someone say “premium accounts“? Check back for future updates.

(Images via Gamers Lab & Games Radar)

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