Retrowatch: Quake: Scourge of Armagon - Another helping of Ultra-Fast Action
Welcome to another edition of Retrowatch, a weekly series where we take a look at a good game from years long past. In order for a game to be covered on Retrowatch, it must be at least 15 years old and most of all, it has to be good. Any game that scores below a 7 out of 10 will not be covered.
Scourge of Armagon is the first expansion pack for the FPS title Quake. It was developed by Ritual Entertainment and published by Id Software. It released February 28th, 1997 for PC, Linux and MS-DOS. In recent years it released on Steam and GOG.com with their versions modified to support modern systems.
Scourge of Armagon offers a whole array of new levels and a few new weapons, power-ups and enemies while continuing on from where the original plot ended. While the new additions to the game are welcoming, the level design is not quite up to the quality of the original game, resulting in at times frustrating levels.
A new enemy threatens mankind
The plot takes places immediately after the events of the original game, with Ranger returning home after defeating Shub-Niggurath. As opposed to being greeted with a hero's welcoming he finds the base once again under attack. With the death of Shub-Niggurath, a being known as Armagon took over command of its forces.
Before you managed to return home, Armagon's troops began attacking the base. Once again as the sole survivor, you must battle your way through the base and enter Armagon's realm eventually confronting and destroying him. That is essentially the plot to Scourge of Armagon.
Much like the original game its plot serves the purpose of nothing more than building the world and the reason for you to be a part of it. Aside from that, Scourge of Armagon is all about the gameplay and it is for that alone, that you play it.
Another helping of adrenaline filled action
The gameplay to Scourge of Armagon is identical to that of the original game, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. There isn't really any way that the gameplay of the expansion could be improved from that of the original. It was after all, that good.
Instead, they offer a few new additions to the game such as weapons, enemies and power-ups The new weapons are a variation of the grenade launcher that fires proximity mines, a powerful rapid firing energy weapon and an electrifying Warhammer.
The latter weapon being an homage to the original concept of Quake that was scrapped by Id Software during development, where Quake was the name of the protagonist who wielded a massive hammer. New power-ups include a horn of summoning, that spawns an ally monster and the deflection shield that returns some damage enemies inflict on you.
Two new enemies were included in the game, one being a giant scorpion with nail guns for claws and the gremlin, a small creature similar to the fiends from the original game. The difference between the two is the gremlins are not nearly as powerful but are a nuisance due to being able to steal your weapons. They also recover health by eating the corpses of fallen enemies.
Aside from those additions, the gameplay remains the same fast-paced adrenaline filled action packed scenario. The weapons are fun to use and well balanced. The enemies offer new challenges and the new power-ups offer something new. At the end of the day, if you loved the Quake, the chances are you will love Scourge of Armagon.
Good level design with a few flaws
The new levels are generally well designed, even if they don't offer much in the way of new textures, but a few are flawed in a number of ways. There are a few scenarios where the level design is outright unfair. One instance of this would be in the mining facility where you must attempt to get through a rotating machine with boulders in it.
While it doesn't sound like a bad idea on paper, actually putting it into practice and getting through in one piece is another story. More often than not, you will take considerable amounts of damage getting through it. In another instance, you must deactivate an electrical defence system that is guarded by powerful foes.
Approaching this task without knowing what you are going up against can put you into a position where it is impossible to win, especially in the higher difficulties. If this happens you have to start the entire level from the beginning, causing quite a bit of frustration.
There are also a number of occasions throughout the game with unfair enemy placement that is designed for no other reason than to make things very difficult. With all that said, the developers also created some really good levels at the same time.
For instance, at the end of a stage early on, you actually pass through the human realm to Armagon's realm by jumping across a vast opening of nothingness. It is quite an exhilarating moment. Then there is a level where you must storm a castle, making your way through the enemies that defend it and find a way in.
So yes, there is good level design to be found but also flawed level design here and there. Overall, however, you are in for a good time with no flaws outweighing the general positive.
A worthy expansion
Scourge of Armagon is definitely a worthy expansion to Quake. Its level design might have flaws here and there but it has just as many positive surprises in store for you too. The new additions are all welcoming and fun to experience and all in all, it is still good old fashioned Quake fun.
While it is worthy it isn't a game I would deem essential to play, it is very much a case of if you want more Quake then this is for you. But if you are looking for something more than just a few new additions and more levels, then it may not satisfy your cravings.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Retrowatch, and I hope you will join us next Monday, where we will be taking a look at another retro title.