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Continued from Part 34: Abusing the System
Just like with the original Quake, it did not take long for established publishers to seek out new and aspiring game development talent to create third party expansion content for Quake II. The first out the gate was Juggernaut: The New Story For Quake II released by HeadGames Publishing in early 1998, soon to be followed by a number of other packs including Zaero developed by Team Evolve and published by our old friends at Macmillan Digital Publishing.
Like with the unofficial Quake expansions you need to copy the data directories over to your Quake II install, which Juggernaut complicates by hiding this behind an InstallShield installer. On Linux you can use the Unshield utility to extract the contents of the data1.cab file, but the file cases will be all over the place; not an issue under Windows, but a headache for case sensitive Linux systems. To save myself a migraine, I assembled a shell script that outputs the proper file name cases.
From there you can launch Quake II with the "+set game JUGFULL" parameter, although under Windows the STORY.AVI movie file will play in a separate window at launch, something that can be bettered on Linux by using MPlayer. Most expansion packs for Quake II rely on a separate library file to inject new game code, but Juggernaut instead functions as a base total conversion, with only the art and level assets being modified. The result is even more amateurish, but at least it is portable.
While not as awful as some bad faith reviewers have claimed, Juggernaut is a victim of its two month development time, with it suffering from the desire to be the first expansion to hit store shelves. The prevalence of unmodified Quake II assets in spite of the original setting betrays this, as well as in the rushed nature of some of the additions, with the new levels being linear with no marked secrets. This incongruity stops Juggernaut from reaching its full potential, but fun can still be had with it.
The opening Ice Caves make a poor introduction with the decision to start you with a Chaingun, inviting you to burn through all your bullets and be stuck with just the Blaster. Juggernaut does find its feet later on in the campaign after the Callistans invade Europa proper, even with the enemy counts rising to the levels seen in some slaughter maps. Neither expansion pack features original music, but both will play the Quake II CD-ROM tracks apart from on the "Living Quarters" map of Juggernaut.
Zaero, on the other hand, hews far closer to the official mission packs, with you taking the role of an elite pilot whose squadron gets stranded on Stroggos. Installing Zaero is much simpler, with the data folder being right there on the root of the CD-ROM, and formal Linux support even being offered through a library file included as part of the official zaero-1.1-2.zip patch archive; after that I just had to make the pak0.PAK file lowercase.
After launching with the "+set game zaero" parameter you would think it would be all plain sailing from here, but Zaero proved to be faultier than Juggernaut even was. Attempting to use the new Plasma Shield Generator causes the game to abort with a segmentation fault, which is not a huge problem as you never have to equip it, but it does make one of the recorded demo files segfault too. All of the other new additions seemed to function properly; that is, until I reached the final boss.
Something that the boss will sometimes fire will also trigger a segmentation fault, turning Zaero into a horror game where if you stare at the boss for too long the game will break. Cheese tactics can mitigate this, but Zaero also steals all of your equipment at the start of the boss level, and he can let loose an EMP Nuke when injured to disable your weapons for a spell. By exploiting the overhead pipes and crouching on stairs, not to mention a lot of save scumming, I did manage to scrape a win.
A lot of the new additions seem inspired by Duke Nukem 3D, with the introduction of laser tripwires and security camera feeds. There are also now turrets, which are at least less irksome than those in Ground Zero, and can often be disabled. All of the new enemies veer towards the obnoxious, with the Sentinels being powerful bullet sponges who seem to exist to compel you to use the IRED Devices and EMP Nukes to save on ammo; Zaero proves stingy with its arsenal for most of the campaign.
As expected both Juggernaut and Zaero produced the same sporadic lock ups I experienced with the rest of Quake II, although I did notice that they became far worse here when I cranked up the difficulty in Juggernaut and had more enemies spawning in. Say what you will about these expansions packs, they at least took more effort on the part of the publisher than just grabbing a bunch of freely distributed packages off the internet and burning them to a disc. Time to get out my shovel again.
Carrying on in Part 36: Entertainment for X Windows
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