Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’ve gushed before about Quarantine, an open-world murdertaxi game where you drove odd passengers around a prison city, stacked up on weapons to take down fellow road-users, flung golfish into lakes, and brought down a megacorp. But have you played its 1995 sequel, Quarantine II: Road Warrior? This was the game to teach my naive younger self that sequels to games you adore won’t necessarily be good.
Quarantine, as I’ve gushed, was set in a weird and wonderful sprawling city where you could happily pootle around taking fares and starting carfights. Parts of it still live in my brain. Sure, it had a core set of missions running through, but it let you slack off to take in the city as much as you pleased.
Road Warrior took away this freedom. It chained mission after mission. Upgrades were doled out, not earned. Levels went from sprawling, winding streets to ordered grids. The comic book character portraits weren’t as evocative as Quarantine’s spritemen. It stopped feeling like a place I’d want to poke around. It was streamlines, repetitive, boring. It didn’t help that Road Warrior took Quarantine’s dark comedy into zaniness.
I do still fondly remember driving through cornfields, though – vegetation in an FPS was rare those days, I tell you.
I suspect I played Road Warrior in 1996, only a year or two after the family got a PC and my gaming wasn’t confined to friend’s houses. Until this point, I’d not played many sequels and mostly been lucky to play good ones, so it took me a few days to really understand… no, it is possible that I actually don’t like this. I similarly remember, perhaps a year earlier, the weird realisation that a company which had made games I’d really liked was also capable of making ones I didn’t. Ah, innocences lost!
[Thanks for the screenshot, Jack Lightbeard on MobyGames.]