Quake III Arena (PC) Review

By Athanasios 01.07.2016 1

Review for Quake III Arena on PC

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, a… Latin dude once said; a quote that can perfectly describe the Quake series. Those who grew up with them might look back and see some old, yet only slightly dated gems, but, in reality, they were not that impressive. Quake was very good, but failed to capture the magic of Doom, and Quake II was an impressive tech-demo disguised as a decent sci-fi re-skin of the original game. Does Quake III Arena lower the quality even more, especially when it throws the single-player aspect out of the window?

The id Tech 3 engine powering Quake III Arena is simply one of the best ever made, and, undoubtedly, one of the most widely licenced ones. The textures, the lighting, the more complex level architecture and character models; they are all great, and, as an added bonus, this title is a cocktail of the great aesthetics of id Software's past creations, with stages that range from sci-fi installations or platforms hovering in the emptiness of space, to medieval dungeons and hellish cathedrals.

The available cast is also quite the colourful bunch. There are cyborgs, gargoyles, undead, demons, prostitutes(?!), half-naked Amazons, an eyeball walking on its arms(?!?!), and even the Doom marine from Doom and Ranger from Quake! Wait, though. The Doom marine and Ranger? How can there be a plot involving these two guys… as well as the rest of them? Simply put: there is no plot here.

Screenshot for Quake III Arena on PC

Well, actually there is one. The Arena Masters, being the god-like entities that they are, got bored after a few million years or so, and, thus, created the Arena Eternal to have some fun the way dictators have done throughout history: by pitting people against each other! This, of course, was just a complex way of saying, "This game has no story mode. Thank you for your purchase!" which was the main complaint of gamers back when this got released, and rightfully so.

Id Software had every right to make an arena shooter, but naming it Quake 'III' was simply wrong. Furthermore, the fact that this doesn't involve a traditional single-player mode doesn't mean that it can be excused from not having one. In fact, the replay value of this title would be much higher if there was a mode like this to differentiate it from the online portion, by including cut-scenes, or mode-specific gameplay mechanics, like objectives, EXP points, and so on.

Screenshot for Quake III Arena on PC

Having said that, though, the actual gameplay is surprisingly fun, fast, balanced, and with perfect controls. The concept is basically Quake II's deathmatch all over again… just a lot better. Enter the arena, run around picking up weapons, ammo/armour, and power-ups, and frag anything that moves as long as it's not a reflection. The avatars that can be selected have no differences between them whatsoever; it's all about one's twitch skills and constant movement, not stats.

A point that must be noted is that playing against bots in the single-player mode is surprisingly good, because, although their patterned behaviour can't match the complexity of a real human, they are great… although that has to do a lot with the difficulty setting chosen, because, at the lowest setting, they are simply worthless, while on Nightmare they can hit a fly across a whole level.

Screenshot for Quake III Arena on PC

Of course, this is all about the online fun, and, thankfully, it does a fine job at that, too. The thing is, though, that it's mostly enjoyable because of its adrenaline-pumping pace and great controls, rather than its content. The weapons are quite diverse and exceptionally balanced, but, at the same time, they are the typical shotguns, machine guns, railguns, and rocket launchers of past iterations of Quake and Doom, with no alternative fire, or any other specialties about them.

The same continues with the level design, which is great, and, like the available weaponry, quite diverse, but, once again, not that innovative; a dungeon with a secondary path or two, a completely open arena, and their numerous variations. The worst thing, however, is the lack of available modes. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Tournament - in other words, the standard stuff of every single arena FPS ever!

Screenshot for Quake III Arena on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It would be great if Quake III Arena had tried to be more original, and introduce all sorts of innovative mechanics instead of waiting for its competitors (Unreal Tournament) to do the deed. That being said, however, its biggest strength actually lies in this simplicity, and, like Pac-Man and Tetris, id Software's third Quake title is as arcade as they come, providing just the bare essentials, and simply focusing on being one of the fastest, rawest, and most balanced arena shooters ever made.


id Software


id Software


First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


I was incredibly addicted to this game when I was younger. My first guitar tutor was massively into in the map making aspect of it, I think he even won a PC mag competition once. Occasionally we spent half the lesson looking at new maps and such. 

I know many consider Unreal Tournament more progressive, but for me it's Quake 3 all the way!

( Edited 02.07.2016 12:55 by The Strat Man )

Tom Barry [ Reviewer - Editor - Resident Sim-Racer @ Cubed3.com ] 

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