Quake III Arena was id Software’s latest and greatest first person shooter in December 1999, and it’s a game that has aged with grace and a still-active community. Choosing to forgo the single player campaign, and thus the “story” element of Quake; Arena was instead a purely multiplayer experience, even offline with bots in place of humans.
The result was an addictive, repetitive and brutal deathmatch experience that continues to be played to this day in various forms. It’s taken quite some time, but thanks to Beben III ($0.99) from developer Ronny Stiftel, Quake III Arena and it’s open source equivalent playable on iOS.
Quake What Now?
Quake III Arena was originally released for PC, Mac and Linux before making its way onto the consoles of the era, namely the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. At the time, Windows was the last word in gaming and the platform was rife with multiplayer gamers, something consoles had yet to properly implement.
Both Quake III and Unreal Tournament were released within days of each other, and both featured the same breed of deathmatch-driven multiplayer action. Each got rid of the story element, to focus entirely on transforming the first person genre – and each proved to be massively popular.
id Software still only have two games on the App Store – Doom Classic and Rage HD. Last year, lead programmer and first-person shooter living legend John Carmack left to join Oculus VR and start developing games for their Oculus Rift virtual reality helmet. Carmack was arguably responsible for the big push toward iOS, and so without him there’s less chance than ever of seeing Quake and its many sequels on the platform. Until now.
Introducing Beben III
At $0.99, Beben III is little more than a glorified launcher. You don’t even get any games with it, and in fact you’ll have to download either Open Arena or the Quake III Arena shareware files to be able to play anything at all. This is done by tapping the download icon next to the respective option from the inaugural Select Game menu.
Except when it comes to playing your retail version of Quake III Arena. For this, the instructions are a little bit more complex, but I’ll try to keep it simple:
- Install Quake III Arena, then update the game files to the latest version using this patch (1.32).
- Navigate to the “baseq3” folder then download and place q3ios_00.pk3 in that folder.
- Create a .ZIP file of the “baseq3” folder, naming it “baseq3.zip”.
- Select your device in iTunes, then navigate to the App section.
- Scroll down to Beben III, click Add and locate the file.
- Sync your iPhone to complete the transfer.
Now when you next launch Beben III – provided you did everything correctly – you should see the joypad icon next to the option that says Quake III Arena. Double tap it or any of the other installed games to play.
Note: You don’t have to play Quake III Arena to get your kicks here. Open Arena is a very pretty game, uses the same engine and is completely free. Just don’t exit the app during the download, because your download will fail. Most errors relating to config files are due to this reason or an incomplete install, so best try again if you find that’s the case.
So What’s It Like?
It’s like Quake III Arena, on your iPad or iPhone. If you’re not fond of fast action games (or first person shooters in general) on a touchscreen, you’re not going to be singing a different song here. The game suffers from the same problems every touchscreen first-person shooter has, namely that the experience itself is quite subjective.
If you spent your formative years playing Q3DM1 to death, you’ll lament the lack of proper mouse and keyboard. You might even wonder why bother at all. Well, because you can and because this might just be the closest we ever get to an “official” release, of course. There’s also a chance that Apple will pull the app, as side-loading files in such a manner isn’t exactly in-keeping with the company’s vision for iOS.
My original (and probably quite scratched) Quake III Arena CD is roughly 10,000 miles from my current location, so I opted for Open Arena on my iPad Air. Graphically, the game is wonderful running at full Retina resolution (which incidentally makes console text tiny). It supports offline multiplayer with bots, local multiplayer with frustrated iPad players or all-out carnage online. And yes, you can take on PC players from an iPad.
The biggest let-down is something we all knew would be a problem from the start: touchscreen controls. This is an excellent example of a game that could do with taking advantage of iOS 7’s new controller support, because even the most die-hard PC gamer will concede that twin sticks beat flat, non-tacticle surfaces any day. Unfortunately, support isn’t there yet (and there are only two controllers currently in existence), but I’m crossing my fingers that it will be added in a future update.
Is It Worth It?
If you’ve got a room full of iPads and Quake fans, then yes – it’s absolutely worth finding out who of your friends is king of touchscreen Quake. The controls will frustrate you, but it’ll be a bonding experience as you will all be equally terrible.
And that’s a problem when playing against even the simplest of bots, let alone real online players. Arena’s speedy style of play always made it feel 100 miles per hour at the slowest of times, and the speed is there even when the player skill is not. That makes it a lesson in patience and profanity, as when you run out of the former you’ll surely resort to the latter.
But there’s no denying the potential here is huge. We could be using Beben III to play Return to Castle Wolfenstein or one of the countless third-party mods that used id’s engine before long. Iffy controls aside, that’s still very exciting.
Download: Beben III ($0.99)
If you’re more inclined to reach for a mouse and keyboard, don’t miss our round-up of browser-based FPSs. Is Beben III worth it? You tell us. Leave a comment below.