As a veteran of Quake 3 Arena on the PC, the term "Low Ping Bastard" comes greatly into play. LPBs, as they are commonly known, have the luxury of playing games such as Quake 3 behind the safety of a T1 line, meaning that they can easily pick off sorry 56K modem users without any trouble whatsoever. LPBs claim that it’s their skills that win, and not their connection.
That is obviously not the case.
Take a look at all the killboards on any server. No matter whether the server is based in Washington, DC, or in San Francisco, CA, the result is the same, with T1 players (with ping times less than 100) are flooring 56K players (usually with ping times around 200-300).
The console market had not been considered a factor in online play until last September. With the launch of Sega Net and the excellent NFL 2K1, we now know that the Dreamcast can provide a decent online matchup without considerable lag we’re used to on the PC.
But can this magic be worked out on perhaps the most popular PC online game of all time. In two words…hell yeah!
For those living under a rock for the past few years, Quake 3 is nothing but a large-scale deathmatch which has been around since Doom back in 1993. While the gist of the game involves trying to score as many kills as possible, other modes of the game have been added, such as the popular Capture the Flag mod, and Tournament style matches. Both have been added to the Dreamcast version.
One can only wonder how the Dreamcast, with its 200MHz processor, 16MB system RAM, and 4MB of Video RAM can handle a PC title that required a Pentium II 233 with 64 MB of RAM. Surprisingly it handles quite well. The game runs at a near constant 30 frames per second (which granted is a downfall from the 60-plus on most PCs), and has slight slowdown when action heats up, but it’s nowhere near as bad as say, Perfect Dark. While some of the PC version’s graphical effects were removed (i.e. mirrors and jumpgates where the other side is visible), other effects such as rainfall and nebulae in space maps are added and they make the game look sharper than it could be.
Getting online is much easier as well. Once logged in, the game will look for any servers available. Unfortunately, it also lists the full and empty servers as well. If only they could be filtered out like they can be on the PC, this would be much better. However, once a game is chosen, it starts up automatically without any problems whatsoever.
Most importantly, since EVERYONE is on even ground (a 56K modem), all the ping times are identical, so no LPBs will be around to ruin the experience for the rest of us. I did, however, notice a few "connection interrupted" glitches every so often, but they occur at about the same rate as they do on the PC.
It is also easy to get in to the control, even with the stock Dreamcast pad. The controls are default to the standard MDK formation, but they can be altered to your liking. But to truly experience Q3A the way it’s meant to be played, then the mouse and keyboard is imperative! While the keyboard is perfect for the game, I have noticed a few minor glitches with the mouse, but nothing critical.
In the end, I have found myself playing this version of Quake 3 Arena more than the PC one. Now that I can finally play on even ground, the fragging can really add up, all the way to a 4 Gem rating (but add one more Gem if you use the keyboard and mouse like you’re supposed to.)