Well, Id Software did it again. They took a technologically superior game and managed to cram it onto a piece of hardware that, to the normal person, would look as if it could never handle it. But the Dreamcast proves them wrong once again, and delivers probably one of the most enjoyable pre-Halo online first person shooters the console world will ever see.
Id pushed the Dreamcast for all it was worth and produced a port that was graphically on par with top of the line PCs of the era. Beautiful vistas and high polygon counts put you in awe as you can almost taste the Dreamcast's potential being fulfilled. But that is not the real draw of the game. The real draw was that the intense multiplayer fragfest that Quake 3 had to offer on the PC was now on Sega's home console, complete with full Internet support. Not only that, but Id went over the top and made it online-compatible with the PC version! Finally, for the first time in history, you could hop on your Dreamcast and pick off your buddy down the street with a rail-gun, while he played on his PC.
The goal of the game is simple. Eliminate your enemies with any of the weapons provided on the field of combat. As simplistic as it sounds, the premise works. Single-player consists of bot-matches that test your skills against one or more computer opponents. The single-player mode, as it is merely a warm-up for the multiplayer, is somewhat shallow, but, there is nothing quite like putting forth your best and hearing, "You have taken the lead!" In multiplayer, well, if you have ever played the PC version of the game, Quake III is here in almost all of its glory, and as much as I enjoy making the computer looking like a real wuss, nothing matches having your wits and steel tested against someone else.
The icing on the cake was that the game is, to this date, still completely online-functional. Sega's master server is gone, but now the game connects to the Id Software secondary master server, keeping all of you frag-hungry Dreamcasters in the clear. The PAL version no longer functions online, but be assured that the NTSC version will pay for itself again and again. And for all of you people who have the broadband adapter, here's your moment to shine, because Quake 3 Arena completely supports the Dreamcast Broadband Adapter. Only a very few games ever adopted this technology, but it shows its colors well to this day in Quake 3.
Some of the very few drawbacks are the short levels and linear single-player mode. But again, Quake 3's strength lies in its multiplayer, not its single-player campaign. And, although Id did the best they could, the control for the game via the Dreamcast Joypad is not nearly as enjoyable as the Dreamcast Keyboard and Mouse setup. Be prepared to drop the extra bones for those accessories, as when you hop online, you will soon find yourself outmatched by players who have them. It would have been better if Id had implemented a Goldeneye sort of control scheme, but, alas, it is not to be. The only relevant complaint left is that the online multiplayer only allows up to 4-players max for any given server. It is understandable to a degree, since so much of the Dreamcast's power was drained with the rest of the game, but 4-players can get rather boring after a spell.
All in all, Quake 3 Arena for Sega Dreamcast is much more than a worthwhile buy, it is a necessity for any gamer's collection. And is an absolute MUST if you have the keyboard and mouse, or even a broadband adapter. Since its release, and probably until the end of time, Quake 3 Arena is a small tribute to Dreamcast's mission, to give gamers the ride of their life. Happy fragging!