By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 17, 2015
Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, to yet another thrilling episode of the Big Red Timemachine. It's been a good week so far! I've been completely cured from my recent breakdown and feeling fit as a fiddle. I've sacked some randomly selected employees and replaced them with swimsuit models, just for the hell of it. And let me tell you, although some of them might not be the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed, they are very, very friendly... especially to their boss... after work... right! My trusty crew also had a fantastic week; researching games throughout history, doing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms and repairing the timemachine after me and the swimsuit models had a party that got a little out of hand. I swear, the things these girls can do with an inflatable alligator, two empty milk bottles and a water hose... phew!
But back to the story at hand. One of my crew was feeling particularly brave and decided to complain to me about their workload. Gentle and understanding as I am, I listened to his story, nodded and smiled, opened my desk drawer, took out a length of wood and (very nicely) sent him on his way. So what do you know? A brand new job-opening! So I should probably start selecting and interviewing the best suited candidates for this intellectual challenging and demanding job. On the other hand, I could just go online and find myself another swimsuit model to... eeehm... work with. It's like my dear, sweet grandfather used to say: "A swimsuit model a day, keeps the doctor away!" (unless it was a female, part-time swimsuit model kind of doctor, in which case she was also invited to come over!)
So now I leave you in the capable hands of what's left of my brave crew and send you on your way to the year 1994. After landing you'll find yourselves in KEMO City, and although you're absolutely sure you've just landed in 1991, the date on most billboards around will say 2043. Still very much confused, you decide to hail a cab. A yellow checkered cab comes flying round the corner and comes to a sudden stop in front of you. Upon closer inspection, the cab doesn't seem to have wheels, but is hovering in mid-air. And what's with the hood-mounted miniguns? Then suddenly, the driver's voice cuts through the haze of confusion and you are pulled back to reality. "Come on man, get in! Have you got a death wish or something?!", he shouts as he fling open the back door of the cab, grabs your lapel and pulls you into his cab. Before you can even raise objection, the driver hits the gas... and not a moment too soon. The empty space you and your newly made friend just occupied explodes in a raging ball of fire. Through the acrid smoke, you can make out two heavily armed hover-vehicles giving chase and closing fast. Is this the end for you, or will you somehow escape this diabolical deathtrap...?
This poorly written piece of fiction illustrates a usual day in the life of the citizens of KEMO city. Now, you may not have heard of such a place, but I assure you, back in 1994, it was as real as it gets. So let's strap in and take a look at this week's game: Quarantine.
Originally released in 1994 for PC by Imagexcel and GameTek, Quarantine emerged the player into the grim an gritty world of a dystopian future. The game borrows heavily from movies like Escape from New York and Mad Max, without feeling like a cheap knock-off of either of these stories. On the contrary, Quarantine really felt fresh, new and intense. Mind you, this was a good three years before Carmageddon turned driving over pedestrians into an international sport. At the time of its release, Quarantine raised a lot of eyebrows and was criticized for being too violent. Nevertheless, the gaming community loved the game and its vehicle-based combat in the dilapidated streets of KEMO city.
But first, let's set the scene. In 2022, KEMO city, a once bustling capitol of industy, degenerated into a crime-infested heap of human rejects. So the government did the only thing they could think of: build a wall around the entire city and turn it into one enormous prison. The citizens were not amused and reacted violently, further exacerbating the situation. Years later, as a last resort, the government flooded the city's water supply with a chemical agent designed to calm the population. The only thing they didn't take into account were the side effects of the stuff. Half of the population turned into insane, gun-wielding maniacs overnight. The other half of the people stayed unaffected and are either trying to make the best of life in the city or are busy trying to escape the damn place. You are one of the latter...
In Quarantine you play as Drake Edgewater, a cab driver whose only goal is to make enough money to upgrade his armored hover-cab and escape KEMO city. You do this by driving people around the city in your heavily armored and armed checkered cab, while fighting off insane killers who drive around the city in their own hand-crafted tanks. With every fare you complete you make money. With this money, you can upgrade the armor or weapons on your cab. So more fares equals more firepower and armor, equals a higher chance of survival. You can see where this is going, can't you? You basically drove round long enough (or in my case, much, much longer) to upgrade your cab to the maximum and make your escape, leaving the crumbling city to its own devices.
At the time, quarantine was one of the most violent and elaborate driving games out there, and needed quite a sturdy machine to run on full quality. The developers knew this and even used it in their adds: "If you've got the ram, we've got the pedestrians.", they boasted. Now, if that doesn't tell you what this game is all about, nothing will. But they were right; Quarantine featured a very densely populated city, with lots of streets and even more pedestrians and enemies. Because it was played in first-person perspective (and probably because of all the blood an bullets flying around), it felt more like a shooter than it did a driving game. And it featured one of the coolest things in driving game history, long before games like Grand Theft Auto III even existed: The drive-by. Whenever you felt like it, you could leisurely extend your arm out of the side window and cut through everyone that was unfortunate enough to stand in your way with a few bursts of your Uzi. Ah, good times... those were the days!
The graphics of Quarantine were great when it was first released for PC, as were its controls and soundtrack, the latter being comprised of tracks by Australian alternative bands. It was an all-new experience that many of us still cherish. So you can imagine that when Carmageddon finally hit the stores some three years later, those of us who had already played Quarantine weren't that shocked or appalled. Some of us even reasoned that Quarantine was the better game of the two, and I'm inclined to agree with them. But hey, that's only my opinion. I liked the upgrade system and the weapons, the music and the first-person perspective, the story and the setting; I loved it all! So yes, I did my fair share of driving passengers back and forth across town while blowing up enemy vehicles, enemies and the occasional innocent bystander.
And although nowadays, it can't hold a candle to modern driving or shooting games, Quarantine did turn quite a few heads back in the day. It was something new, something bold... and I played it until my fingers were almost too cramped to use my keyboard and my bloodshot eyes could barely make out the screen. So if you're feeling like a trip down the blood drenched streets of memory lane and you happen to still own this game, give it a whirl. I did, and I loved every bullet-riddled minute of it!
Imagexcel & GameTek