Quake Minus One (Monolith) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

Quake Minus One
By Beyond
Spectrum 48K

Published in Computer Gamer #5

Tony Hetherington takes an indepth look at Monolith's giant, real time, action game as he tries to stop the Robot Liberation Front.


Deep below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean lies the Titan power complex. Once this was the source of man's energy, derived directly from the Earth's core. Now the Robot Liberation Front have seized the complex turning it into a timebomb.

In ten hours, the RLF will explode the complex causing a massive earthquake that will devastate the world's industrial nations. Your mission is to regain control of the complex, foil the plans of this lunatic terrorist organisation and generally save the world - again.

The games joystick controlled action takes place in the "streets" of the complex between the mobiles controlled by the five Titan computers. Unfortunately you only control one computer, Heimes, and its 50 mobiles which leaves you outnumbered four to one both in computers and mobiles.

The game's view screen shows the view and instruments for just one of your mobiles. The 3D view down the "streets" is created by a technique called "actionscaping" that creates a landscape that your mobiles can charge through at breakneck speeds. The instrument panel includes fuel and energy levels, weapons status and a map of the complex. Each mobile as a unique number and selection of weapons systems which will be discussed later in the article.

However the ensuing battle isn't just between mobiles, for along each road are a number of installations that are not only used for refuelling and mobile repair but also fight invading mobiles.

To the right of the screen is the "keyboard" which controls the various mobile functions, as well as calling up the map display that allows you to find your other mobiles and buy selecting one with the joystick passes control to another. Then the view screen changes to show the view and controls of that mobile.

Getting Started

Your first few games of Quake-1 should be used for exploration as well as some target practice.

Activate the weapon systems of a handful of mobiles and start shooting up the "streets". This, apart from being great fun, will acclimatize you to the strengths and weaknesses of the game's mobiles, installations and weapon systems.

The next stage is to map the complex. Not just the road network but the starting positions and strengths of your mobiles since they start each game in set positions.

Then it's time to think about an attempt to stop the RLF.

The Titan Complex

The complex consists of a network of 157 roads, of various lengths, five computers controlling a total of 250 mobiles.

A road map of the complex is included in this article on which you can mark the opening positions of the mobiles and also to show some features of the complex.

The map was originally based on a spider's web but then altered so that it is asymmetrical. The outcome of this is that there are areas of the complex with sparse long roads and other densely populated zones usually centering around the Titan computers. At the start of the game, there is an average of two mobiles per road.

There are also numerous junctions connecting between two and six road sections with obvious consequences. For example, a six-way junction is strategically important but difficult to defend since it can be attacked from those six directions.

The Titan Computers

The complex was controlled by five computers: Ares, Vulcan, Poseidon and Zeus now under renegade RLF control and Hermes.

Each computer had a specific function to perform which was carried out by its fleet of mobiles. Although the computers still perform their original programmed functions, they now have disastrous effects. For example, Ares (attack) and Poseidon (defence) now view you as the enemy and will attack or defend against your mobiles. Zeus, the command computer, now directs the renegades' strategy against you and uses its mobiles as reinforcements. Finally, Vulcan which was previously the monitoring computer watches your every move looking for your attacks with it will counter attack and perhaps even surround and rout the attacking force.

The Mobiles

Each mobile has a unique number and selection of the eight possible weapon systems. Consequently, you will have some heavily armed strike mobiles, with some having as many as seven systems although only one offensive and two defensive can be activated at any one time. The average armament will be three or four weapons however you will see some with only one which will be best used as scouts or cannon fodder.

The offensive weapons incorporate mines that can be dropped on roads, torpedoes for long range targets, ionic blasters to capture renegade computers and installations. Also in your arsenal are fireball guns, missile pods and lasers.

Two defence systems are available and are shock shield to defend against collision and impact weapons and plasma shields to deflect ionic blasts and fireballs.

It is important to remember that the enemy have the same available weaponry at their disposal so expect to come under fire.


Scattered along the length of each road are a number of installations that can have a marked effect on the game. They broadly divide into three groups, attack, defence and utilities.

The attack installations also have the same choice of the mobiles weapons systems... so don't be caught out if you suddenly come under attack from an enemy bunker or rig.

The defence system consists of sonar beacons that warn of attack, magnetrons that sap your weapon's energy and conducting columns that negate the effect of ionic blasters.

The utility installations are involved in the production of energy (remember it was a power station before it became a battlefield) and include fuel tanks and energisers to refuel your mobile or energize its weapons systems. Also, factories to repair damaged mobiles, self-explanatory cooling domes and quake suppressors and a control tower that controls the other installations.

If you capture a control tower you gain control of the whole road including all of its installations which you can then use against the enemy. To do this, you must zap it with an ionic blaster. However, before you can do that, you will have to take out perhaps other installations, for example, a conducting column that would neutralise your blaster.

As there are strong mobiles and weak mobiles, there are strong and weak roads for it is not only the installations that are present, it's where they are placed. For example, it would be difficult to attack a tower if it was surrounded by a conducting column and a magnetron since even firing a long range weapon (a torpedo) from a safe distance may have disastrous consequences. Such tactics may result in the accidental destruction of a quake suppressor which would reduce your ten hours in which to complete your mission significantly.

Luckily, the opposite is also true as a well-placed cooling dome when hit could take out a rig or bunker with it, leaving the road clear for you. Therefore, it's well worth sending a few of your weaker mobiles on one way scouting trips to see the lie of the land.

It is important to practise the assault of roads as some don't have towers controlling them. Instead, they have road junctions (that must be captured before you can pass through them) or Titan computers.

How To Win

The key to defeating the RLF is the same as any other game. That is, you must first know your enemy, discover its strength and weaknesses and avoid the strengths and exploit the weaknesses.

The RLF's weakest link lies in the control network of the Titan computers. If you manage to disrupt this, then you have a big advantage that you may turn into victory.

The entire renegade threat is controlled by Zeus. Every "turn" Zeus examines the situation and decides whether to let Ares attack you or allow Posiedon to bolster up defences and so on. However, if you destroy Zeus then they will lose this "logical" command and resort to a random system where each surviving computer has an equal chance to getting the "turn".

Similarly taking out Ares will reduce the renegade RLF attack potential although Zeus will step in with its reinforcement mobiles.

While the idea of a "turn" is inaccurate it does convey what is happening particularly the important fact that although the enemy outnumber you four to one, they can still only move one mobile per "turn".

Since Quake-1 is a real-time game, its turns are a measurement of time. For example, if you moved a mobile down the game's longest road it would take about thirty seconds. In the same time, the RLF can only perform a total of thirty seconds' worth of action. It might move ten mobiles down short roads but that would assume each road only took three seconds to travel.

Don't panic about having to control fifty mobiles at once because this number is quickly whittled down until near the end of a successful game the battle will be fought between only a handful of mobiles.

The important thing is to activate the weapons systems in as many mobiles as possible as quickly as possible as if the need arises they will defend themselves, but only if they activated weapons. Next, you should mine some key roads to Hermes to slow down any counter-attack. Then select a strike force to take out important RLF-controlled roads before taking on the computers themselves.


Quake-1 is a game that you can enjoy immediately by arming a single mobile and shooting anything that moves. Gradually, you will learn more about the complex itself, your own resources and your enemy's forces that will allow you to plan a campaign against the RLF to win back the Titan complex. The game's graphics and accompanying music titled the Titan Match, help capture the atmosphere of the battle and will ensure that mobiles are kept moving for months to come.

Tony Hetherington

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