A sort of love-letter to id Software and their line-up of iconic titles, Generations Arena by Wirehead Studios pits the diverse assortment of heroes and villains from Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3 in the arena against each other in a chaotic bid for DeathMatch supremacy.
Generations Arena is a project with an intriguing history. It first started as a Quake 2 mod called simply "Generations", and had the same premise as the Quake 3 version (minus the Arena Gladiators, obviously). However, it was rather infamous for having used actual textures, sounds, and other assets from the games it referenced. As one might expect, this was a legal nightmare in the making for the original developers, and it ended up biting them in the proverbial rear end: They received a cease-and-desist from id Software themselves, with an ultimatum to either replace all the content, or stop work on the project altogether and take down all download links. The second option was chosen by the original team. During the period of time that the mod was available, though, it proved to be a hit with the Quake 2 community, so the demand for the idea was clearly there.
Once Quake 3 released, Wirehead Studios seized the opportunity to take another stab at Generations, this time with made-from-scratch models and textures. With thorough legal guidance and close communication with id Software, the Generations team at Wirehead Studios put out the Quake 3 version of Generations, which thankfully has stuck around to this day for players to enjoy.
Put simply, Generations is a class-based mod, where you pick from different types of characters that each possess their own characteristics, from basic aspects such as game physics and armor functionality, to more elaborate differences like the types of weapons and items available to each class. Each class, or "Generation", is directly based on an id Software IP. The Earth Soldiers are heavily inspired by Wolfenstein, the Doom Warriors are self-explanatory, the Slipgaters hail from Quake, and the Strogg Troopers are from Quake 2. The Arena Gladiators, who function according to standard Quake 3 gameplay rules, are also available as a choice. All of the classes are tied up nicely with a cool story that connects the lore of classic id software games into one cohesive narrative. Each Generation even has its own HUD, modelled to resemble the HUD of the game they're based on. It is evident from the get-go that Wirehead Studios has a keen eye for detail.
A rough overview of each class:
- Earth Soldiers:
The slowest class, compensated by having the strongest armor out of all the classes. They also suffer from the fact that several of their weapons use the same type of ammo, meaning that Earth Soldiers must keep watch of their bullets at all times; however, their weapons can be among the strongest in the game when used wisely - particularly the Dual Gatling Guns, which eat up ammo like crazy but can make quick work of multiple foes in mere seconds.
- Doom Warriors:
The fastest of all the classes, but with the drawback of being the most vulnerable in terms of armor, so survival means being fast on your feet at all times, rather than being a tank absorbing incoming damage like a sponge. Their high speed is also crucial for combat, as their best offensive power lies in their close-range weaponry, meaning closing the gap between you and the opponent is often necessary to deliver a beating. Doom Warriors can use their speed to beat other players to important item spawns, which can allow smart players to turn games in their favor.
Just like in the original Quake, the Slipgaters' most notable ability is their air control, allowing them to cut corners and traverse arenas in ways that are simply impossible or at least very difficult for other classes to accomplish. This puts Slipgaters at about the same level as the Doom Warriors in terms of mobility, exchanging some speed for aerial manoeuvrability. Also like Quake, they possess a complex, tiered armor system where different colors provide different levels of protection, and lower-tier armors require lower amounts of armor to pick-up.
- Strogg Troopers:
The Strogg Troopers' key advantage lies in their combat versatility, thanks to their assortment of powerful and flexible weaponry. Despite being the second-slowest class, they have some physics tricks up their sleeves like double jumping to give them an edge. Their armor system is similar to the Slipgaters.
- Arena Gladiators:
Identical to standard Quake 3 gameplay. They can be considered the "well-rounded" class, with no particular advantage or disadvantage in any gameplay category.
One of the most interesting aspects about Generations Arena is how the wide variety of different arsenals and item pick-ups for each class is handled. For example, if a Slipgater sees a Thunderbolt, a Strogg Trooper will instead see a Chaingun, and likewise an Arena Gladiator will see a Lightning Gun. Every weapon from the standard Quake 3 arsenal is automatically replaced with a different weapon depending on which class you are; usually one with similar functionality. This works both for weapons naturally spawning in the map, as well as weapons dropped by other players of a different class. The same principle applies to items like power-ups as well. It is a practically seamless system that allows the radically different class types to function elegantly alongside each other in a single match. This page gives a detailed list of weapon conversions between classes.
When creating a class-based mod, the most pressing challenge is making sure that each class is equal in viability, with no single class having a significant advantage over the other. In this respect, I feel like Generations has managed to get it right. No class-based mod is ever going to be perfectly balanced, but Generations has been fine-tuned over several years to reduce any such imbalance to the point of being negligible. No matter which Generation you decide on, you will have a fair shot at victory, although you may need to adjust your usual playing style and way of thinking to accommodate for your class of choice.
Generations Arena also includes various gameplay modifiers to tweak the experience to your liking. Among some of the more notable ones are infinite ammo, ThreeWave-style tech power-ups, both weapon-based and offhand grappling hooks, as well as team vs. team matches where all players on the same team have the same class.
Like other popular mods such as Challenge Pro Mode Arena and Rocket Arena 3, Generations Arena also has its own official map-pack. As one might expect due to the theme of this mod, the map-pack includes a few solid remakes of classic maps from previous games like Dead Simple from Doom 2, The Bad Place from Quake, and The Edge from Quake 2. There are several original Quake 3 maps included as well, often deliberately selected to tie thematically into one of the five Generations included in the mod.
As mentioned earlier, the models and texture work are all built from the ground-up, avoiding any legal issues that plagued the original incarnation of Generations. These models are all of very high quality, clearly resembling the originals while still looking fresh and updated for the id Tech 3 engine.
Wirehead Studios is a team full of dedicated, diehard id software game fans and the passion clearly shows in their work on Generations Arena - work that, amazingly, continues to this day. The crew at Wirehead is currently setting their sights on a new update that includes many new features, most notably Team Arena support, which will add many new weapons, along with improved animations and other gameplay changes. It's an exciting time to be a Generations fan, and if you haven't played it yet then you should do yourself a favor and download this mod right now.
Review by EmeraldTiger