Have You Played… Zerstörer?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’m going to keep doing mods for a while because: 1) I struggle to remember what happened yesterday; 2) Unable to afford many new games, for about a decade I mostly played mods – many, many mods. Of the many mods I played from cover discs off cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer, the Quake singleplayer campaign Zerstörer – Testament of the Destroyer was the first that felt like something I should’ve paid for. “Professional quality,” we said back then, with very specific ideas of what that meant.

Zerstörer feels like the official Quake mission packs – a new episode, some new enemies, some new/alternate weapons and power-ups, and a few fancy technical features (ooh! cutscenes! in Quake!). And like them, it’s… Quake but not Quake. When you’ve played a game a squillion times, the small changes seem massive – make it seem huge. The level design isn’t id, the new enemies work in ways that feel un-Quake, and look, I’m making a big deal about this.

One overly-complex huge level aside, Zerstörer is good and fun and exciting. Then, at the end, rather than defeating an elder god you just die. It was a pretty surprising twist at the time but I don’t know what else I’d expect from a team named Nihilism Unlimited.

I suppose I’m quite interested in how small changes can feel huge with mods to familiar games. I remember being blown away by the Cujo mod adding a dog buddy (who even licked gibs!), when a game which had a dog from the start would be… actually, no, the dog in the Dead to Rights games are still hilarious and wonderful. But I was fascinated by mods like a new weapon letting me beat familiar encounters in new way, a grappling hook showing the world from new angles, and so on. I feel I’m missing out by playing so many different games now, no longer getting to know any one game inside-out and back-to-front.

If you want to play, you’ll need Quake, Zerstörer, and Zerstörer patch 1.1. I’d recommend the updated engine Quakespasm, and always remember to set GL_TEXTUREMODE GL_NEAREST for that hard-edged software mode feel.


  1. cluddles says:

    I remember it killing you if you tried to select easy mode.

    “Not this time, baby”

  2. Atomic Playboy says:

    Got to love that sweet Zerstörer shotgun.

    There is also the excellent Zerstörer-themed Map Jam:

    link to quaddicted.com

  3. Atomic Playboy says:

    Oh and those god tier Quake mappers released a Base-themed Map Jam a few days ago:

    link to celephais.net

  4. Atomic Playboy says:

    I use gl_texturemode “GL_NEAREST_MIPMAP_LINEAR”

    Also, I really dislike those ugly round particle effects, fortunately Quakespasm allows us to re-enable those sexy square particles. Simply add r_particles 2 to Quake’s autoexec.cfg to achieve this.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      No mipmapping for me! On a 1440p monitor, the crispness of GL_NEAREST is beautiful.

      • Atomic Playboy says:

        Yeah, Quake really is a sight to behold in those crazy high resolutions. Going from 60 Hz to 144 Hz was a very special experience as well.

  5. fuggles says:

    I did and also lots of quake rally at a similar time. A happy time..

    Please do spirit engine 2!

  6. GWOP says:

    Quake and Alien 3 should be a guide to artists everywhere on how to do brown beautifully.

  7. disorder says:

    Oh this was on a PC Gamer disc :( I spent probably more than that paper edition would have cost, on sucking it down through a straw on dialup, past 70%.. three times, before making to 100% once. My family hated me.

    Strangely they still do.

    As for the mod, I don’t know, at the time I felt it was so strange and actually, amazing. For the first time in quake, I didn’t like the runic levels. Some – for the time (was this pre-unreal? maybe just before my computer could handle it) – really amazing large spaces.

    Aside; some of the later penumbra of the dominion series maps were as large, or larger even, with a really interesting way of pretending they were bigger than they were. Also, a big vertical tower;

    Zerstorer’s vertical tower went down. I loved single player quake maps – their wierd juxtaposition of tech and strange temples. This one map I’ll never forget.

    Down. down. more down. still no enemies..

    You wouldn’t /expect/ to find a teleporter(slipgate(door)) back to the surface then, but I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

    A look. a spinning skull. It seems to want something to do with blood. This totally can’t go wrong.

    I might not call Zerstorer the best quake partial conversion/mod/map pack (nehahra maybe, if only for the sheer ambition/audacity of a 4hr in-engine intro movie), but it’s got to be the most distinctive in my memory. (most) all the way through to the complexity, for the time of the blood tunnel just at the end, it impressed most all the way to the finish, and it lives up to the translation of its name too.

  8. Person of Interest says:

    These Quake mod retrospectives make me feel all tingly. QuakeWorld, mods, and maps were an all-consuming part of my life for a time.

    I could write all day about the Quake internet subculture. Strangely enough, I was just now Googling for some old Quake resources to name-drop, but the only hit was an old HardOCP forum post ( link to hardforum.com ) written 12 years ago. I barely recognized the author’s username: it was my own!

  9. kwyjibo says:

    Zerstorer was excellent, but I don’t remember much about it other than starting the 2nd(?) level off in a grave, and the epic chain lightning gun.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Johnny Law says:

    Zer was enjoyable (at the time, and also when I played through it again a few years ago) just because everyone involved seemed to be on-board with creating a self-consistent atmosphere and “feel” that was slightly different from the original Quake.

    It’s great when things click and you get the impression that you’re picking up what the author(s) are laying down, even if the details of the experience are unpolished. Or maybe, especially if.