This expansion adds both content and depth to an already superb game, but at this point you can get much better online mods for free.
Quake III: Arena was one the most innovative and original deathmatch experiences ever released on a computer, and it was just a matter of time before it became an extremely popular title. Though the game has been praised by most reviewers, it has also been criticized for being way too deathmatch-oriented as it lacked more possibilities to play in teams. Almost a year after the release of Quake III, id Software developed a new expansion called Team Arena, as its name indicates, the game focuses more on team gameplay and adds a significant amount of new content.
The expansion pack includes new modes, weapons, bots, more items, a redesigned interface and some player models. The featured modes are: capture the flag, one-flag CTF, overload and harvester. Each one of these has its unique set of rules and depth, so in order to win you’ll need to apply different strategies. In “One-flag CTF” there’s only one flag to capture instead of two, and this is located in the middle of the map. Overload requires you to go to the enemy’s base and destroy a skull-like totem, but to do so you need to attack it with your best weapons as the item can withstand massive amounts of damage. Harvester is a mode in which you collect skulls that represent the number of fragged enemies, these skulls are located in the center of the map and you can take them to the opponent’s base to get points. As you may have guessed from the descriptions each mode involves unique tactics, so effectively communicating with your teammates is absolutely necessary to win matches.
Additionally, the game has three new weapons: The proximity launcher, the nailgun and the chaingun. The proxy launcher is a really interesting weapon as it shoots mines that stick to any surface, even other players. The other two weapons are also great additions to the already extensive arsenal, but what makes them deadlier is the possibility of combining them with some of the new powerups.
These include the kamikaze, invulnerability shield, scout, doubler, guard and ammo regen. Each of these grants its user unique abilities that add more strategy to the combats. The kamikaze causes a huge explosion which damages everything around it, and the invulnerability shield allows a given player to take damage while he’s immobile. Even though these two items are one-use only, the following ones remain with its user until he’s fragged: doubler allows players to cause double damage, scout doubles a player’s speed, guard gives a health and armor boost and ammo regen regenerates ammunition to the its maximum. All these items are really well-balanced and are extremely useful in certain arenas or situations.
Furthermore, Team Arena features 19 maps. 11 of these are completely new, 4 are tournament maps and the rest are redone versions of Quake III: Arena maps. Most of these are excellent and really detailed, specially the symmetrical ones. The only problem is that they simply aren’t as good as some of Quake III’s maps and you can easily get fan-made maps that not only are better, but also free.
As Quake III: Arena, this expansion pack is much better when played online against other people. It should be noted that Team Arena’s community isn’t as active as the one from its predecessor, so finding populated servers can be quite burdensome and unless you decide to create a server by yourself and have some friends to play with, you’ll get really disappointed.
Team Arena looks exceptional even by today’s standards. Though the game uses the same graphics engine as its predecessor, its requirements are much higher. Still, nowadays any modern computer can run this classic expansion pack, but it’s quite surprising that a game that looks very similar to Quake III is much more hardware demanding. Apart from new maps, the add-on also features new skins and unfortunately, most of these are completely uninspired. You’ll see knights, soldiers, skins based on developers (which by the way look appalling), fat clowns, more skeletons, Valkyries, monsters and I could go on and on. The problem with all these is that their design is terrible and if you’re a Quake fan, chances are you definitely won’t be impressed for the inclusion of more eyeballs and fat ladies.
Aurally, the game is also outstanding. Some of the same sounds and voices seem to have been reused for characters and weapons, and they are superb. Also, the expansion features new music and it’s very similar to what we are used to in the franchise. The sound of certain weapons, like the rocket launcher, is near perfection as it conveys a really lifelike effect, and not only will you be able to identify weapons when you see them, but also when you hear ammunition coming in your direction. Each character taunts you according to the situation and this is one of the game’s most annoying characteristics, especially when playing against bots. Fortunately, you can turn them off to never hear them again.
In conclusion, Team Arena is an adequate expansion pack. It definitely is much more than a simple add-on, as it incorporates new weapons, skins, graphical effects, modes, maps and a redesigned interface. Unfortunately, it’s also very disappointment as it doesn’t feel like a true follow-up to Quake III: Arena, mainly because if you decide to get the expansion you’ll be paying for content that you can get for free. If you’re a Quake fan and have friends to play with, Team Arena seems like a good choice. If not, try getting one of those free mods that can be downloaded online.