I'm pretty much in agreement with Mike on this one. Quake III Arena is fast, violent and addictive—so much so that I found myself glued to the game without a care in the world for what I was doing, where I was or how I got there. I became so addicted to the game that my brain would liquefy and go on auto pilot for hours at a time—totally desensitized to all of the lightening-quick violence and utterly oblivious to the online opponents I was mercilessly fragging.
On one occasion, after six hours of an all-night session, my ass was buried so deep in my game-playing couch that it was almost touching the floor, and my hands had turned into stiff claws after being clamped shut around the controller the whole time without rest. At that point, I was getting blown to bits just about every 10 seconds—I must have set some kind of world record for times-fragged-in-a-three-minute-span—but I kept playing in that state for another two hours anyway. I didn't care if the world was going to end the next day—I was going to play Quake III Arena until I either passed out from exhaustion or my eyes fell out of my head.
I don't know if all of this adds up to being one of Martha Stewart's "Good Things" or not, but it certainly can't be healthy. However, after picking up the game for $20 at Target and playing it for just five days, I sure as hell got my money's worth already. For me to get so hooked on such mindless action is pretty rare—but hey, the game is fun. After a hard day at work, you can come home; fire up your Dreamcast; get online; blast anything that moves for as long as you please and, if it suits your mood, even make fun of the other guys' mothers and cheap-fragging them when they try to reply. Of course, that's not a good way to make friends, either. I tried it once and was repaid with my three opponents teaming up and fragging me non-stop until I was wimpering like a little wuss.
All that said, there are a few things about Quake III Arena that kept me from giving it a higher score. Despite the sense of freedom that comes with online play, the game can bog you down with unnecessary limitations. This is mainly due to the cramped size of many of the levels and the rather disappointing number of available weapons. The weapon issue in particular was big with me. A game like this should be loaded with all kinds of different ways to reduce your enemies to bloody chunks, but the firepower in Quake III basically consists of the standard machine gun, grenade launcher, plasma gun, rocket launcher, rail gun, lightening gun and shotgun. Not bad choices in and of themselves, but the selection isn't very balanced, and I can think of a few more guns I would've liked at my side. Mike's right-on when he says the majority of the online players stick with the rocket launcher—a deadly weapon once you get accurate with it, but extended use of it quickly becomes routine. Not only that, but I hated emptying my shotgun into an opponent with seemingly no ill-effects only for him to turn around and waste me with a single rocket blast. All in all, I prefer the weapon selection in Unreal Tournament instead.
Connection problems can also be a real headache when playing online as well, and the levels tend to repeat themselves a little too often for my tastes, but I expected all of that going in. Most of time Quake III Arena is wickedly fun and dangerously addictive. Once my brain resolidifies and my hands recover from my last marathon with the game, I expect to spend many more sleepless nights fragging and getting fragged.