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Quarantine (video game)

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Quarantine is a 1994 racing/first-person shooter computer game for MS-DOS and 3DO, created by Imagexcel and published by GameTek. In the game the player drives a taxicab through a post-apocalyptic city, picking up customers and killing enemies. Due to the gratuitous violence the game was controversial at the time of release.

Background history

The origins of Quarantine are as follows. Evan Taylor, lead singer for Blibber and the Rat Crushers, professional programmer, and indy game designer, happened to be visiting a friend in downtown Toronto, Ont. There he met a friend of his friend named Ed Zolnieryk. Ed was also a computer programmer, but had a professional position with game developer Imagexcel, located just outside of Toronto. Evan was about 6 months into a 18 month dev for his BBS door Warlords of the Balance. After a brief conversation between the two, Evan launched into a rant about the uncreativity of the video game industry, and the way they just produce formula video games. Evan mentioned to Ed that if he had the Doom engine to play with, you wouldn't see anything that looked remotely like Doom. Ed said explain, and Evan essentially gave him the full run down for Quarantine. No name, mind you, but every other element was listed. About 6 months after the meeting with Ed, Evan suffered an exhaustion related nervous breakdown. He moved up north, and didn't even know that Quarantine was being worked on, never mind released. Evan became aware 3 or 4 years later, that Quarantine was indeed made, and was amazed by Ed's photographic memory.

Where did Evan Taylor get the idea from? When he left his professional programming job to start up his software company, he had about 6 months of expenses covered. When the dev took longer than that 6 months, Evan started driving Taxi part-time in order to survive. The violent aspects of the game were Evan's fantasies after particularly annoying evenings in his cab. Evan was told years later that Ed was looking for him. Whether it was to say thanks, ask for more free game dev, or offer some sort of payment is not known. If Ed is still alive, Evan can be contacted on the Blibber and the Rat Crushers Myspace page.

The success of Doom by id Software in 1993 led to many other companies attempting to follow Doom's success. Most ended up making unsuccessful "doom clones". Quarantine was one of the few games that successfully exploited the features of Doom with its own texture mapped stages and vehicular combat gameplay. The game was later continued with the sequel, Road Warrior, which largely kept the original gameplay, but introduced a more mission and story-driven gameplay.

Plot

Like today's Detroit, KEMO city was known for the manufacture of hovercars, meeting the country's demands for transportation until 2022. Over time, however, KEMO's crime rate had risen so far that the economy collapsed and the city descended into disorder. Criminals roamed the streets in armored hovercars, terrorizing the citizens of KEMO without fear of retribution. In 2029, OmniCorp promised city officials that it could clean up KEMO and return it to normal. The offer was accepted, and the corporation began the construction of a massive wall around the city under the guise of a "defensive measure". The wall was completed three years later, and the only exit sealed shut, turning KEMO into a massive prison city for all inside, criminal or otherwise. The outraged population reacted violently, and the city degenerated.

Ten years later, in 2043, OmniCorp decided to test the behavior altering chemical Hydergine 344 on KEMO. This chemical was supposed to pacify the citizens of KEMO, and was distributed through the city's water supply. Unfortunately, OmniCorp failed to predict the chemical's reaction to the stagnant water, resulting in massive brain damage and insanity in the many of KEMO's citizens. More than half the population became crazed killers overnight.

Drake Edgewater, a 21st Century cab driver and one of the lucky few unaffected by the spreading virus, is desperate to escape the city alive. Driving his '52 Checker "hovercab" armed with an assortment of headlight-mounted weaponry, he delivers passengers and packages for what money he can make to upgrade his vehicle and escape.

Soundtrack

The CD version features tracks from Australian alternative bands.

  1. You Am I - Berlin Chair (2:42)
  2. The Fauves - The Driver Is You (3:38)
  3. Custard - The Wahooti Fandango (3:00)
  4. Smudge – Ingrown (3:13)
  5. Godstar - Lie Down Forever (3:26)
  6. Screamfeeder - Snail Trail (2:49)
  7. The Daisygrinders - Uranium Watch (3:47)
  8. Underground Lovers - Weak Will (5:29)
  9. The Hellmenn – Whirlwind (4:17)
  10. Crow - Yellow Beam (5:00)
  11. Sidewinder - Now You Know (4:51)

Trivia

  • Areas of KEMO bear names and locations similar to locations in southern Ontario. "Port Credit" for example, for Port Credit, now part of Mississauga.
  • There are many storefronts whose logos resemble storefronts close to Gray Matter Games' Oakville office, include "Gifted Hands", "Rococo" and Tim Hortons.
  • It is possible that the game has been partially inspired by the movie Escape from New York, which also features a closed-off city with a dark feel and a man driving a taxicab.
  • The PlayStation version has been released in Japan exclusively, under the name Hard Rock Cab. It is exactly the same as the original PC version, though it suffers a lot of slow-downs and is written in Japanese language only.
  • A white sign appears in various windowfronts throughout the city reading; Korova, the milkbar in A Clockwork Orange
  • Quarantine required a rather powerful system when it was released. One of the original ads in magazines for the game used the slogan "If you've got the ram, we've got the pedestrians."
  • Quarantine, long before Grand Theft Auto III and other similar games, popularized the drive-by shooting tactic found in the game by using the Uzi to shoot out from the side windows. This is available when you purchase the machine gun upgrade from the Weapon King shop, which comes with an Uzi.

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