10.23.2000: Bezzy - Q3A Mod: "Elite Squad Arena"
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"Elite Squad Arena"
3 brain cells are not divisible by 5 Map Designers.
Author: Jesper 'Zarq00n' Frisk and the ESA Team
Reviewed By: Bezzy
Game Mode Supported: DM, Teamplay
URL: http://www.planetquake.com/esa
Overview: Class-based frantic teamplay action with a cunning twist - it sucks!

Download Here (20.3Mb)

"You are on fire!!!" drills.

AT A GLANCE: You make a commercial game. You work hard for a couple of years on it. You tweak it to perfection as much as possible while your publishers breathe down your neck and your fans foam at the mouth. You release your creation to worldwide acclaim.

Then you decide to Open Source your work.

Jesus. Ain't it nice to know that tens of thousands of man-hours have gone into your game's production, and now any old Joe can download your game code and wipe his ass with it? Let's face it: the vast majority of modifications out there make the game they were based on worse than it was in the first place. Only very rarely will a mod come along that does not cause people to check out and forget after five minutes play. That's the mod maker's promise of "breathing new life into old games" - a promise of at least five minutes waste before you realize you downloaded a turd. Then you forget about the mod and move on with your life.

But you will not forget Elite Squad Arena. Have no doubts - it will haunt your dark Goth soul forever.

THE GAME: Team Fortress for Quake was the first decently thought out class based mod. It had interesting and novel ideas, and was quite well balanced, but it was far from perfect. Thanks to Valve's unstoppable pimp train, you still play the same unrefined Team Fortress clones to this very day. It's funny that mod makers - people that strive to work to professional standards without having to answer to irate bosses, publishers, and all the other curses that go with commercial game development - never seem to take the freedom of mod making to heart. They can do anything and get away with anything; gutsy innovative ideas, design advancements that are light years ahead of professional development teams, X rated pornography, racist remarks, whatever. But they don't. Change Scares People.

Q. What's more painful than being on fire?
A. Being on fire and looking at h
ideous coloured lighting!

Meet Jesper Frisk and his loyal band of Scandinavian preschoolers who take the "Change Sucks" ethic very much to heart. You have to have pretty big balls to develop a class-based teamplay mod for Quake 3 when such household names as Weapons Factory Arena and Quake 3 Fortress head the pack. Kudos, morons! In Elite Squad Arena, we are overwhelmed by powerful, raw emotional hatred against the idea of "common sense" and "tasteful design". Upon witnessing such sadism in their art, you really start to question yourself... are the ESA Team a bunch of idiots or are we? Is that obnoxiously brightly lit red fog the act of a madman, or does it simply try to evoke to us the real pain that our in-game avatars must feel? Their incredible innovation of a pain interface works excruciatingly well, proof being the slashes along my forearms that I made in a futile attempt to make the terrible fear and hurting stop.

Muster up your courage and dig into the seven or so classes, if you can manage to work through a couple of class and team selection menus (which, because of some rather lazily implementation, must be taken in the correct order OR YOU DIE). The general class-based bullshit awaits: a scout Arctic Marine, spy Assassin, heavy weapons guy Heavy Marine are all in store, as well as many other highly original classes! There is even a class that has a high powered rifle that can telescopically zoom! The incessant pounding of wacky new ideas is making me feel very dizzy!

The crazy game content doesn't stop there! From the ESA web page:

Ice Gun (Short/Medium range) Remember the old Nailgun from Quake 1? The ice gun is similar to it, with the difference that this weapon fires ice instead of nails. With other words, it's a really fast weapon for a really fast class, Arctic Marine.

Christ! I find it amazing that just one tiny detail has to be changed to create an "all new" weapon! Ice shards instead of nails huh? Wow! Every day is a twisting fairy tale dream with the ESA team!

RPG (Medium/Long range) This Rocket Launcher fires a rocket that you will fly where you aim. So you can say it's some kind of a guided missile.

Having no qualms about ripping off Half Life's RPG, the team go on to totally copy its rather irritating and gimmicky functionality. I hope I've made my point: everything in this mod has been done before, only not as badly. Rocket and grenade explosions do around three or four times the damage and kick, meaning you'll never have to line up your pesky sights to ensure a kill. Just aim at a wall, duck and cover, and a winner is you! Or, more accurately, pick the Scientist class and a winner is you! This class starts with a BFG/Grenade hybrid that just, well, devastates anything else. This is an awful, awful game, and I pray for the death of all the horrible monsters involved in its creation.

The search for Jesper Frisk's head continues inside the goatse.cx man.

Several repetitive (and BAD) sets of looped dance and techno tracks grate the game along, often inciting unsightly console errors. I'm not even sure if the music can be stopped... luckily I had a bucket of water handy to douse my headphones in when the noise became too much. A "nifty" radio device showcases the voice talents of whoever clicked "slow frequency down 25%" fifty times in Windows Media Recorder. The kooky Schwarzenegger-esque voices shouting "Covere mei! Zis is KRRRAZY Talk!" will have you reaching for your mail-order home suicide kit in no time.

To say that pretty much all the maps included are Cranky Steve-worthy is an understatement. I'm all for maps that concentrate on gameflow over aesthetics, but when your scenarios look like BSP representations of goatse.cx (see left), you really have to start the whining. Missing and misaligned textures, overuse of fog and coloured lighting - you name the poison, it's in there. It's as if the mappers (all six of them) really didn't understand or give a shit what they were doing. I have this vision of Jesper standing over his comrades with a whip, forcing them to map until they successfully figure out how to compile without BSP leaks.

It's actually a real shame that this mod isn't good. A while back, PlanetQuake gave this modification quite the pimping, without really knowing how heinous it was. It must be frustrating to be made to look stupid because someone else hasn't delivered. My heart goes out to all the people who can't express their own opinions because of an oppressive multinational.

SUMMARY: The dark side of modding is a grim place indeed. It's extremely easy to lose all the excitement about a project five minutes into attempting your first half assed model. ESA really does smell of half-assed-ness. It is poorly thought out, way beyond the scope of the talents of the team, and deserves a high rank in the Cranky Hall of misery. Try it! You'll love it (I want you to die)!

- Bezzy

Category: Rating:
Graphics: - 8
Sound: - 7
Gameplay: - 9
Functionality: - 4
Fun Factor: - 7
TOTAL: - 35
More shit!

Individual ratings go from 0 (bearable) to -10 (painfully terrible). Total score goes from 0 (ok) to -50 (the worst piece of shit you'll ever play).

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