Quake 4 is seven years old now. Its engine, once heralded as grimy and atmospheric, looks flat and static, while its levels feel as tight as ten-year-old trousers.
But PC gaming always prevails. On one single, solitary server hosted somewhere in Chicago, Quake 4 lives on.
I tied my boots, donned my helmet and stepped in to join them. Even though there’s no reason for a games journalist to wear a helmet when playing.
IP for Quake 4’s last server traces to somewhere on the outskirts of
Chicago. The machine goes by the name of “killat0n’s server.” If you ask
around for somewhere to join Quake 4 multiplayer, this is the answer
you’re going to receive. It regularly hosts games with over a dozen players and sometimes a full house means that you’ll be turned away.
seven-year-old slaughterhouse is a museum of murder, a trip back to a
time when speed and accuracy were the only things that kept anyone
alive. The standard of many of the players, some of whom I’m sure have
been playing since the game was released, is very high indeed.
recognise this not just because many are twitch gamers who can put a
crosshair on my nose and a railgun blast through my face from fifty
meters away, but because they seem to instinctively know the spawn
timings of the weapons and pickups. The very best Quake and Doom players
were always those who had internal timers ticking away, who were
acutely aware of which items were about to reappear and where, doing
their best to keep track of whoever had already collected them.
spite of the ferocity of all this distilled deathmatch, there’s a
distinct absence of anger or frustration that you might find in modern
games. Deathmatch players are rarely the most talkative lot and the
intensity of these games makes typing a suicidal habit, but when players
do talk they’re both friendly and helpful. Some took a few moments to
offer me control tips, others simply greeted or congratulated one
another. It was a welcome change from the immaturity, intolerance and
racism that it’s still all too easy to find in online games.
killat0n himself is nowhere to be found. While the server that runs in
his name sits somewhere in midwest America, killat0n himself now appears
to be working in Los Angeles for EA.
Randy Evans, as he’s more commonly known, used to build Quake 4 maps and create YouTube trailers to showcase FPS games and tournaments. Now, in another encouraging story of the gaming industry employing
someone who’s shown so much love for it (and who has a pretty sexy
portfolio), he works as a Marketing Video Editor and has been busy making
trailers for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. He didn’t respond to our
no idea of any of the players on his server know this, either the
regulars or the visitors, and I ask if anyone knows who the owner is or
when he last dropped by. Nobody can give me an answer. One says he’s
simply glad the Quake 4 is still being played and that people like me,
typing away in a gunfight, continue to be an easy target.