The year was 1998. It was Christmas time and I had just received my very first computer, an AMD K6-2 running at 333 MHz. Little did I know, from that day forward, my life would be changed forever.
One of the first such changes was my focus shift from console games to PC games. Just a few months after owning my computer, I added a Diamond Monster II 3D graphics card based on the 3dfx Voodoo 2 chipset. It was an absolute screamer and took my gaming experience to a whole new level.
We all know how the story played out for 3dfx, the graphics company that dominated the 3d graphics industry for several years in the late 90s.
Having a specialized API could be arguably said was both the highlight and the downfall for 3dfx. The Glide API when used in conjunction with Voodoo hardware optimized the overall gaming experience and for the few short years that Glide reigned supreme, several games based its 3d implementation in this proprietary API.
If you are old enough, odds are you owned a 3dfx card and played some of these games. Let us take you a trip down memory lane and remember some of the best games ever that used Glide.
Quake II released in late 1997 set the standard for what a first person shooter was all about. A wide array of weapons, pick-ups and enemies fueled this game, making it a favorite among millions of gamers. Single player mode was acceptable, but the real highlight was network play. Players could battle against others via IPX and TCP/IP over the internet. This is one of the first Glide-based games I played and boy did it look great.
Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now
Carmageddon II was released in November 1998 as a sequel to the wildly popular original title with the same name. The object of the game was simple: destroy anything and everything in sight! Ok, maybe it wasn't as simple as that, but carnage was one of the key elements of this racing/driving game.
Players competed in races with three different ways to win. You could pass through all of the checkpoints before the other racers, you could win an event by destroying every competitor's vehicle, and players could earn a victory by killing every pedestrian in a given stage. Due to the game's graphic nature, it earned a Mature rating from the ESRB, but that didn't stop most people (myself included) from playing this game hours on end.
Interstate '76 was released by Activision in 1997. The game's plot focused around the investigation of a private army of autovillians and when the main character's sister is murdered, you are left with the task of finding out what really happened... and seeking revenge. Gameplay took place from your armor-clad, hopped up Piranha as you hit the road (or desert) and battle with other decked out vehicles. This game reminded me a lot of the Twisted Metal series as it shared many of the same themes.
Tomb Raider II
Ah, Lara Croft, easily the most popular female video game character of all time. Croft returns in the second installment of the highly popular series for another round of cave-exploring, puzzle solving fun. Tomb Raider II proved to be a winner across the board - gameplay, controls and graphics were top notch for its time. The hit series even spawned two movie releases starring Angelina Jolie.
Blizzard's Diablo II was released in 2000 and remains to this day one of my favorite games of all time. Gamers could select from five different characters to make their way through the game: Amazon, Paladin, Necromancer, Sorceress and Barbarian. The storyline picks up where the original game left off. Players must traverse through four acts in their pursuit of Diablo, Lord of Terror. Along the way, gamers must also battle with several other boss-style enemies. Diablo featured both single and multiplayer modes and offered great replay value thanks to the use of randomly generating monsters and item drops.
Virtua Fighter II
Virtua Fighter 2 was the sequel to the popular arcade fighting game. Part two was originally released in 1994 by Sega but did not find its way to PC screens until 1997. The second installment was a major graphical achievement for its time, so much so that some of the ported versions that appeared on console systems had to be redesigned in 2D. I personally remember dropping off quarter after quarter into the arcade machines. The franchise has withstood the test of time and is still around today. The latest iteration, called Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, was released in 2012 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Resident Evil was originally released for the Sony Playstation in 1996 and ported to the PC a year later as one of the first to use 3dfx's Glide API. Resident Evil has been billed as the first "survival horror video game" by many, setting the bar high for others to follow. The game allowed players to control two characters, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, each with their own pros and cons. Resident Evil was one of the scariest games I played as a teen (yes, I am man enough to admit I screamed out loud more than few times) and offered a wonderful storyline. Developers used prerendered backgrounds, allowing for much higher level of detail. Perhaps the most unique feature of the game were the camera angles used, which gave players the feeling of being in a movie.
Need for Speed II: Special Edition
Need for Speed II: SE was released seven months after the "original" NFS II title and one of the main changes was the added support for 3dfx Glide. This brought a lot of visual upgrades and made the gameplay much smoother. The second title in the Need for Speed series offered much of what the first did: hot exotics and a wide open road. But also several changes such as "simulation" or "arcade" mode. I've never been a huge fan of arcade driving games, as I rather experience the real thing, but this was one of the few exceptions. NFS II was a great game and responsible for wasting many hours of my life.
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat
MechWarrior 2 was released by Activision in 1995 for MS-DOS. Later releases added support for various APIs, including Glide in 1996. The game took place in the year 3057 and pitted players in control of giant robots (mechs) on either The Wolves or the Jade Falcons clan. The single player game featured 30 missions (15 per team). A multiplayer mode was also available using NetMech, which allowed for several different modes and up to eight players per game. Mechwarrior 2 was a very successful game and was eventually ported to the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Where games like Unreal and Quake II took an arcade twist on gameplay, Rainbow Six was about being tactical. Rainbow Six put gamers in control of a SWAT team, allowing you to plan your mission in advance. Once a mission started, you controlled one of the team members and seeked out the bad guys (Tango's). Rainbow Six adhered to reality closer than most shooters -- meaning you could die from just a few gunshots rather than being able to withstand rocket attacks. The game also featured a great multiplayer interface. I remember teaming up with a friend and completely destroying the competition. Ahh, the memories!
3dfx and Glide may be a thing of the past, but the games and good times are not to be forgotten. There are several Glide emulators available online that will allow you to relive them on modern computer hardware, if only for the nostalgia factor. What were your favorite 3d/Glide games?