Developed by Hipnotic Interactive and released in early 1997, Scourge of Armagon is the first official expansion pack released for id Software's popular first-person shooter Quake. The game takes place directly after the defeat of Shub-Niggurath, the enemy, at the end of the first game, with the player on a mission to prevent Armagon, Quake's Lieutenant, from invading Earth. Like previous games in id Software's stable, the story in Scourge of Armagon is little more than setup for the intense first-person action that is the heart of the Quake franchise. While it is mainly single-player in focus, the mission pack also includes a single level that is intended for use as a deathmatch map, HIPDM1.
Though made by a new development company, Hipnotic Interactive (later Ritual Entertainment) was composed of developers with a large amount of prior experience in the genre, with its members having worked on such FPS titles as Duke Nukem 3D , Final Doom , and Rise of the Triad. The company would go on to create several other well-received action titles over the course of its decade-long existence, among them SiN, Heavy Metal FAKK 2, and Star Trek: Elite Force II. Ritual would eventually be acquired by casual game developer MumboJumbo, LLC in 2007, with their last game release before the merger being the abysmal SiN Episodes: Emergence in 2006.
Shortly after killing Shub-Niggurath, the unnamed protagonist of Quake returns to Earth via slipgate to find himself in a military facility conspicuously devoid of life. Searching his surroundings, he finds a single computer terminal detailing a hasty retreat by the base's inhabitants in the face of another invasion by Quake's forces. Realizing the base has been stripped and all exits have been sealed, the protagonist is faced with two choices: wait for Quake's forces to arrive, or seek them out himself. Choosing the latter, he heads to the weapons facility, which has already been overrun. After significant fighting, it becomes apparent that the entity behind the renewed invasion is Armagon, one of Quake's generals. He maintains a massive rift portal which was Quake's primary means of sending reinforcements to Earth. Realizing that killing Armagon is the only way to permanently close the portal, the protagonist sets out to find him and force a final confrontation to decide the fate of Earth.
As in Quake, the player's primary goal is to progress through a linear series of levels, killing all hostile opposition between their insertion point and the exit. While Scourge of Armagon differs very little from Quake in gameplay terms, level design is generally more complex, with many maps incorporating dynamic elements like destructible walls, falling rocks, or collapsing floors. The engine saw a few modest upgrades as well, allowing for things such as persistent bullet holes, though it is still immediately identifiable as the Quake engine.
Scourge of Armagon's single-player mode features 17 new levels in addition to a new starting map. Much like Quake, these levels are broken into episodes, with each one containing a single secret level for persistent players to discover. Each episode starts players over with just a shotgun and an axe, but unlike its forebear, Scourge of Armagon's episodes unfold in a predetermined order from start to finish, which is perhaps the biggest departure from the structure of the original. The expansion also does a somewhat better job of maintaining a consistent theme within each episode, progressing from a military theme in the first episode to a medieval one in the second, and finally settling on an otherworldly motif in the game's final chapter.
Single-Player Maps & Authors
* indicates a secret level.
- Start: Command HQ by Tom Mustaine
Episode 1: Fortress of the Dead
- HIP1M1: The Pumping Station by Tom Mustaine
- HIP1M2: Storage Facility by Jim Dosé
- HIP1M3: The Lost Mine by Richard "Levelord" Gray
- HIP1M4: Research Facility by Richard "Levelord" Gray
- HIP1M5: Military Complex* by Mackey McCandlish
Episode 2: Dominion of Darkness
- HIP2M1: Ancient Realms by Tom Mustaine
- HIP2m2: The Black Cathedral by Tom Mustaine
- HIP2M3: The Catacombs by Matthew Hooper
- HIP2M4: The Crypt by Richard "Levelord" Gray
- HIP2M5: Mortum's Keep by Mike Wardwell
- HIP2M6: The Gremlin's Domain* by Jimmy Sieben
Episode 3: The Rift
- HIP3M1: Tur Torment by Richard "Levelord" Gray
- HIP3M2: Pandemonium by Mike Wardwell
- HIP3M3: Limbo by Tom Mustaine
- HIP3M4: The Gauntlet by Tom Mustaine
- HIPDM1: The Edge of Oblivion* by Richard "Levelord" Gray
- HIPEnd: Armagon's Lair by Richard "Levelord" Gray
The original Quake weapons are joined by a few new additions in Scourge of Armagon, each of which has special attributes that differentiate it from the more straightforward weapons of its predecessor. Among them is Mjolnir, which is likely based on the much-rumoured hammer weapon which was alluded to in the original Quake's pre-release information, but turned out to be a poorly-modelled axe in the final game.
Proximity Mine Launcher A re-skin of the Quake Grenade Launcher, the Proximity Mine Launcher is essentially the same gun, though rounds that do not strike an enemy will stick to the first surface they touch, detonating when anything comes within a certain distance. Mines can also be shot with another weapon in order to detonate them manually. This increase in tactical diversity comes with a price unfortunately, as proximity mines are somewhat weaker than regular grenades.
Laser Cannon A rapid-fire energy weapon that uses Lightning Gun cells, the Laser Cannon unleashes a stream of laser projectiles that will ricochet off of any inanimate surface. This requires particular care in tight quarters, as these rebounding lasers are capable of injuring the player as easily as they harm enemies. In some cases, its projectiles are capable of bouncing more than once, making for some rather dicey close quarters scenarios if a player's aim is not accurate.
| The weapon of Thor himself, Mjolnir is a humorous nod to early development information from Quake, which pegged the main character as some manner of hammer-wielding thunder god. It is an area-of-effect weapon that electrifies the ground in front of the player, which can be useful when dealing with tightly grouped enemies. Mjolnir consumes 15 cells per attack, though it can also be used as a simple melee weapon when ammo is low. Though this is not the preferable way to use it, it is more powerful than the axe.
While there are not many new creatures in Scourge of Armagon, what few there are exhibit behaviours markedly different from the preexisting cast. They are joined by every non-boss monster from the first game, as well as a cadre of vicious new tricks and traps designed to do unwary or careless players in at every opportunity.
Centroid An armored scorpion cyborg creature with nailguns fused to each claw, the Centroid is unique in that it will attempt to avoid projectiles by strafing incoming fire. They can be particularly evasive when being fired upon from long range, and for this reason hitscan weapons are more useful than usual when dealing with them. Their nails are quite accurate at long distances, though they can also attack with their stingers when the player is within melee range.
| Gremlins are not particularly hardy, but they are almost always encountered in groups. A Gremlin is furthermore able to spawn additional kin by consuming the corpses of any dead monsters in the vicinity. While it doesn't have a ranged attack of its own, it will attempt to steal the weapon currently equipped by the player in order to use it against them. If successful, the stolen armament will be dropped when the Gremlin dies. Gremlins are unable to steal the axe, shotgun, or the Mjolnir, so switching to one of these weapons eliminates much of their threat.
Spike Mine Not an enemy so much as a defense mechanism, the Spike Mine appears to be nothing more than a ball of flesh and spikes that hovers in place until a player is in sight. At this point it begins to slowly move toward its target, although it moves faster when the player is not facing it. Spike Mines will explode on contact with anything, which can be exploited in many cases in order to eliminate foes that happen to be in their path. They appear to be resistant to some types of damage, though a single nail will always take one out.
| Armagon is Quake's general and the primary threat to Earth after Shub-Niggurath's death. He is not nearly as passive nor as helpless as the boss of the previous game, being equipped with deadly arm-mounted rocket launchers and laser cannons, both of which he tends to fire in salvos. The game's final encounter boils down to an arena match between him and Quake's unnamed protagonist, as it is through his will alone that the rift gate remains open.
Quake staples such as Quad Damage and the Pentagram of Protection make their return in Scourge of Armagon, accompanied by a few entirely new power-ups. The Horn of Conjuration is the definite standout among them, allowing players to fight alongside the mighty Shambler if they are lucky, or a lowly Rottweiler if they are not.
Horn of Conjuring Summons a random creature or creatures to aid the player. While these conjured allies are friendly, they can still be killed either by foes or friendly fire, thus care should be taken to ensure they survive long enough to be useful. Due to the simple nature of Quake's AI, summoned creatures often display less-than-intelligent behavior, which the game's manual describes as a result of the conjuration process.
Empathy Shield Something of a Quad Damage/Pentagram hybrid, though not quite as useful as either. The Empathy Shield protects the player from fifty percent of all damage taken during its duration. This shielded damages is then reflected back on the attacker, allowing foes to be taken down in quicker fashion than usual.
Wetsuit Basically a supped-up Biosuit, the Wetsuit not only provides incredible mobility underwater, but also bestows complete immunity to all lightning attacks. This includes traps, underwater Lightning Gun discharges, and even Shambler attacks, making it the ideal way to deal with Shamblers when available.
The original score for Scourge of Armagon was composed by Jeehun Hwang (with Rob Patterson contributing additional guitar work). His previous works include the well-received soundtracks for MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat and its sequel MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries . The eight new tracks written for the game are an eclectic mixture, juxtaposing synth-heavy electronic beats and guitar work with more orchestral compositions complete with choral vocals. Though the full score contains a range of sounds, the overall feel is more fast-paced in nature than the ambient creations composed by Trent Reznor for the previous game.
Scourge of Armagon was met with consistently positive reviews at the time of its release, with many critics noting that the level of polish was a marked improvement over previously released Quake level packs such as Shrak and Dark Hour. The new weapons, enemies, and music all received positive remarks, as did the level design, which reviewers generally agreed matched or exceeded the quality of the original game. While professional reviews ultimately recommended the game in most cases, it was also acknowledged that the content of the expansion was aimed squarely at Quake's preexisting fan base, with GameSpot's Tim Soete commenting that Scourge of Armagon was ideal "for anyone who just can't get enough of the original."
Scourge done Slick
Though modding for Quake's mission packs was never as popular as creating content for the main game (since it would require players to own both Quake and the expansion), one of the most popular pieces of Quake machinima ever made centered on Scourge of Armagon. Known as Scourge done Slick (SdS), the film is an extension of the Quake done Quick (QdQ) series of Quake speedruns in which fans exploit a number of quirks and oddities in the Quake engine and individual levels in order to complete levels as quickly as possible. Being the QdQ team's most ambitions project to date, SdS was not a simple speedrun, but rather a full Quake movie based on a speedrun. Released on July 26, 1998, the entirety of SdS was reshot from a third-person perspective, and also contained a lighthearted narrative focusing on a talented speedrunner who must defeat Armagon in 666 seconds lest Earth be destroyed. The end result was fully voiced, with a fair amount of custom sound effects, graphics, and music to accompany the action.
Complimenting the significant audio, graphical, and editing work that went into SdS, the final product contained a wealth of additional options uncommon to fan-made films at the time, including commentary from the speedrunners themselves, subtitles, and chapter selection menus. Upon its release, SdS was universally well-received within the Quake community, and even drew praise from one of the mission pack's creators, Levelord himself. The movie would eventually be re-released as a stand-alone movie that does not require Quake or Scourge of Armagon to play, and later the same year it would be supplemented by Scourge done Slick lite, a sister speedrun done on Easy difficulty which manages to shave nearly three minutes from the original's eleven-minute running time. While the Speed Demos Archive, created by one of QdQ's founding members, Nolan Pflug, continues to release speedruns for Quake as well as many other games, Scourge done Slick still stands to this day as perhaps their most well-remembered effort and one of the most lavish fan-made movies ever produced with the Quake engine.
Minimum System Requirements
- Operating System: MS-DOS 5.0 or higher (or Windows 95)
- CPU: 75 MHz Processor (math coprocessor required)
- Memory: 8 MB RAM (16 MB for Windows 95)
- Display: VGA compatible display or better
- Hard Drive Space: 40 MB uncompressed space
- CD-ROM Drive: Double-speed (300k/sec. sustained transfer rate)
- Fully installed registered version of Quake