Another superb collection of Linux games



Updated: May 28, 2009

Dear all, we have already had several articles on Linux gaming, including three chapters on First Person Shooters (FPS) covering eight games and two massive compilations containing tens of great titles. For today, I have prepared another interesting collection, with a bit of everything.

For best experience, I recommend you take a look at the other articles first, so you have a complete picture of what to expect from Linux games. You can find the links to older content in the Articles section below. Now, without further ado, let us begin.

First Person Shooters

Once again, we have several interesting candidates. The FPS category is probably the most actively and most thoroughly developed genre of games for non-Windows platforms. This is mainly because of the open-source, freely redistributable Quake engine, created by id Software, an ever-Linux friendly company. In fact, most Linux FPS titles are based on the Quake engine. Nevertheless, they are varied enough to make playing each a unique experience.

Yo Frankie!

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Yo Frankie 1
Frank has the innocence of Puss in Boots and the diabolics of a toothy little thing that has no respect for fellow forest creatures.

This game does not use the Quake engine. It runs on Blender Game Engine and is available for all major operating systems. Blender is a powerful, popular 3D modeling and rendering graphics software, which was used to create the stunning landscapes and lifelike behavior of the characters in the game.

The game takes places in the universe of the Big Buck Bunny. You play Frank, hence the name, a bullying rodent that amuses itself by abusing other wildlife by tossing them around and throwing things at them like nuts and bones. Frank can also glide, being somewhat of squirrelly type, although I have not managed to master this particular skill in the four hours I played Yo Frankie!

The goal of the game is simple - you have to pass the levels, fighting rodents, fighting sheep, tossing about their baby sheep and using them as props for your shenanigans, climbing rocks, tarzaning around, and collecting nuts and bones from your defeated opponents, which, by the way, explode when killed.

Yo Frankie! has a very simple premise, but it is a quite difficult game. Your little squirrel ninja will have to work hard to get past its enemies. However, the most challenging part of the game will be the acrobatics.

Yo Frankie! 2
Leave Frank standing for a while and it will start making all sorts of funny faces and gestures.

It will take some time before you learn how to fight effectively, jump well - and worse yet - fly. Some of the distances will be too much to bridge by simple jumps. And Frank can't swim, so any mishap will end in a spectacular drowning. Like I said, four hours into the game, I still can't get Frank to fly.

I placed Yo Frankie! under First Person Shooters because it's a game where you progress through the level while fighting enemies and collecting stuff. If you can think of a better category, feel free to ping me.

Overall, the game is quite interesting. One of the most impressive element is the graphics. The game is exceptionally well made, with soft rounded maps and lively characters. It looks and feels like a very expensive cartoon, much like the recent Pixar works. The fresh, bright colors and extreme beauty do have a price, though. You need to have a decent graphics card with 3D shaders enabled before you can run Yo Frankie! Old and onboard cards will probably not work. For instance, my ATI-reinforced T42 could not properly load the game.

One more, thing though, I think the game is unsuitable for children. The cartoon looks can fool people into thinking this is a fluffy Teletubby thingie. However, Yo Frankie! is a rather violent game, with some slightly disturbing elements. For instance, abusing baby sheep does not seem like the best education. Furthermore, the game depicts drowning and death in vivid and funny detail. Yo Frankie! is not a game you want want to let small children play.

Yo Frankie 3

Yo Frankie 4

Yo Frankie 5

Time spent playing the game
4 hours
Overall impression
Very good
Quality of graphics
10

World of Padman

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In the best tradition of Linux FPS, World of Padman (WoP) is a Quake-based game. However, like Yo Frankie!, it wraps the violence in a cartoon scenery, somewhat similar to Warsow. Indeed, like Warsow, World of Padman is a game with a unique, distinctive visual style, designed by a cartoonist. Another interesting thing about WoP is that all human-modeled players have human physique and distorted faces with large, rounded noses.

WoP 1

WoP 2

The gameplay is similar to most FPS. You either fight standalone or in teams against players on a range of maps using a range of colorful weapons. Free for All, Team Deathmatch and Tournament modes are available. The maps all looks crazy. Some have been ported over to Urban Terror.

WoP 3

WoP 4

WoP 5

You can also record video and audio during the gameplay. While the main menu definitely has a Single player button, this mode of game has not been implemented, leaving online (or LAN) Multiplayer mode as the only choice. However, like in OpenArena, you can add AI bots during the gameplay.

Padman is fun to play, alongside most other Quake-like titles, like Nexuiz, OpenArena, Warsow, Nexuiz, and others. The slightly hallucinogenic cartoon-like layout does take a bit of time getting used to, however after a while, the gameplay feels natural.

Time spent playing the game
3 hours
Overall impression
Very good
Quality of graphics
8

Racing

VDrift

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VDrift is a simple, straightforward racing game, with a reasonable collection of cars and tracks. The landscape is also well done, with photo-like scenery that makes the driving enjoyable. However, the game is far from being easy. The driving takes quite a bit of getting used, especially the cornering and braking. All vehicles in VDrift experience a very serious understeer, resulting in unspectacular locking of wheels and your car simply drifting into the shoulder gravel. High-power vehicles like the F1 car are also finicky when it comes to steering and revving. If you apply too much power, your engine will stutter and if you bank while revving, the torque will spin your car out of control.

The simulation-grade physics claimed on the website is not exaggerated. Driving cars in VDrift is very much like driving real cars, something you cannot really appreciate by hammering the keyboard. When you think about it, it makes sense. Cornering at 150kph with Mini is kind of tricky, isn't? After approx. 3 hours of playing, I'm still very much a noob at VDrift and I have yet to beat even a single AI opponent.

VDrift 1

The camera angles are also a bit difficult to get used to, especially the free mode, which you can control with your mouse. However, you have to be very gentle with the cursor, otherwise you will have a free spinning camera that does not really help you enjoy the game.

VDrift 2

However, overall, VDrift is a nice game. It is tough and demanding, though. You won't become an instant pro racer. It will take quite a bit of practice getting the physics right, cornering and power sliding and whatnot. If you can appreciate working hard just to manage a single lap, you will love VDrift. If you're more of a UP Arrow key person, then VDrift might not be the best choice for you.

Time spent playing the game
3 hours
Overall impression
Good
Quality of graphics
7

MMORPG

Vendetta Online (free demo)

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First, to make things clear, MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Second, this entry is an exception, since Vendetta is not a free game. It is a payware game. It has an 8-hour demo, after which, just like World of Warcraft, you will have to pay to continue playing. Currently, the monthly rate is USD10. Nevertheless, I was genuinely impressed by this game that I felt it was worth writing about it.

Vendetta 1

Vendetta is about piloting spaceships in a vast universe. You do this with hundreds and thousands of other people online, building your own career path as you choose. You can focus on fighting other people or being a peaceful trader. You can ally with other players and form military and political factions. As you accomplish goals, you will earn money, allowing you to buy better ships, better weapons and more of the trading goods.

Vendetta 2
Attacking an enemy ship with my sissy phew-phew laser thingie

The Vendetta universe is vast and complex, creating a real world you can immerse into and enjoy. Each player can have up to six different characters, allowing him to enjoy different career paths. Furthermore, there are three playable nations to choose from, alongside a number of non-playable factions that spice up the story.

You begin by going through an extensive tutorial that will teach you how to pilot your ship. In general, the basic flight simulation rules apply here, with some exceptions. One of these is that game enforces No-Shoot Zones around space stations. Disobey these and force the wrath of law enforcement units.

Then, there's the whole matter of vacuum physics. The basic maneuvering is identical to most simulators, however you can also use side thrusters to give your ship distinct lateral and vertical motion, as befitting a space ship. Forward motion is gained by applying power for short bursts, after which your vessel will glide on its own. Quite tricky, but you will get used to it after a while. Or not. You will sure enjoy the free-fall dynamics.

Shooting is also a bit different from most simulations. Most games require point-to-shoot tactics. These work in Vendetta, too, but you can also enforce a more realistic physics mode, where your ship will maintain its direction, while you can freely shoot about. This comes very close to realistic non-gravity environment and can be confusing at first.

Vendetta 3
Approaching an allied space cruiser for docking; once you board the capital ships, you can man their massive cannon turrets Star Wars style

The game allows you eight hours to familiarize yourself before deciding whether you want to continue playing. You will probably spend about two hours training, learning the basic of maneuvering, navigation, combat survival, and a few other rules.

Although I'm not a great fan of space games, especially since they are very tricky to make right in the first place, I must say I very much liked Vendetta. It is a solid game, with good story, decent graphics and incredible depth. The developers seem to know what they want and how to get it. The game is available for all major platforms, proving that making high-quality content for Linux is just a matter of initiative and good will. No technology limitations.

I recommend you try Vendetta. You have eight hours to test the game. This is a decent trial period. Personally, I think you will like the game very appealing. If you like RPG, online, against hundreds of other, real people, then Vendetta is a great choice.

Vendetta 4

Time spent playing the game
2.5 hours
Overall impression
Very good
Quality of graphics
9

Strategy (City Building)

Dwarf Fortress

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The full game name is: Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress. And it is one of the most unusual games you will have ever played. While the game follows the same concepts as other exploration titles,, it has the most unorthodox execution. The game is played inside the terminal, using ASCII characters for graphics. Yes, you read it right.

The whole idea of the simplistic execution is that you use your own imagination to play the game. When it comes to delivering the story, Dwarf Fortress is a very complex and a very hard game. Especially since it takes away the typical 3D isometric view we are all used to in classic strategy games.

There are two modes in the game: Fortress and Adventurer. In the former, you build a fortress and run it. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Managing the fortress is about as easy as running a genuine family household. Your dwarves will have to eat and drink and sleep somewhere. They will also have to work, gathering raw materials and creating goods, sharpening their skills as they progress. Your dwarves will also have to manage the forces of nature like magma and river flows, fight off brigands, stand goblin sieges, trade with foreign merchants, and welcome newcomers into their caves as the fortress grows and flourishes. There will be death and pain and anguish and love. It's diabolically cunning and deep - and it will be executed in ASCII characters and inside your head. If you have no imagination, do not even bother to try.

In the Adventurer mode, you follow a single dwarf around the world, doing pretty much whatever it pleases. You can also visit fortresses created in previous games. In this mode, you will be able to travel around freely, fight with other creatures, trade with other dwarves and humans, and even form parties.

The game runs on all major operating systems, but you need WINE to get it running on Linux. If you try to execute the Dwarf Fortress directly from the console, you will run into a run-detectors: unable to find an interpreter error.

Getting WINE configured properly belongs to a separate article, which I have promised you a long time ago, and will come soon. Meanwhile, download and install the WINE packages from your repositories. After that, execute wine against the Dwarf Fortress executable.

WINE run

You can also run the game in full screen mode if you like. Don't worry about the resolution issues. Dwarf Fortress is smart enough not to force your monitor into a bizarre DOS-like mode.

Full screen

Your first step is to build a new world. Beware, this can take some time. It can take 15-20 minutes easily, because Dwarf Fortress is not just a game, it's a world simulation, and the world has to have depth and detail.

Creating world

World created

And then, you can start the most complex game in the history of computing.

Playing 1

Playing 2

Dwarf Fortress is a game you will either love or hate; there's no middle ground. If you choose the path of hard work and dedication, be prepared to wring your sweaty palms as you make the baby steps in the harsh, ultra-realistic world of Armok. For more screenshots, take a look at the official site. Once again, I warn you, there is no fancy graphics, only hard, hard work and your mind spinning. For super geeks only.

Time spent playing the game
1.5 hours
Overall impression
Good, HARD
Quality of graphics
N/A

Board games

Kapitalist

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This is a monopoly game. plain and simple. You have the familiar board and you can play against up to eight players, including real people. You roll dice, move across the board and buy property. The goal is to bankrupt your opponents.

Kapitalist 1

One thing that does make the game a little complication is actually getting it to run. You need to install two packages, capitalist, which is the server module, and kapitalist, which is the client. Before you can play the game itself, you will have to run the server module. After that, you can start the client and connect to the server. You will have to provide a name for your player, choose the server name and the port. If you're connecting to your own box, leave the server name as localhost. You can also use the default port.

Once this is done, you will have to drop down to command line once again and run start in the capitalist console to get the game running. If there are too few human players, AI will be auto-generated. After that, it's monopoly just the way it was back in your childhood. The game is fun as always.

Kapitalist 2

Kapitalist 3

Time spent playing the game
2 hours
Overall impression
Good
Quality of graphics
5

Flash games

Flash games are not strictly a Linux domain. They can be played on any operating system, inside any browser that supports Flash. This means that if you are running a Flash Player (most likely Adobe) in your browser, whatever it may be, you can enjoy Flash games.

My decision to include browser games (Flash, Java, etc) here stems from the same reason as Linux games: finding high-quality content is not readily apparent and immediately available to new users. This is equally true for Linux users as well as people seeking entertainment in online titles.

While I have briefly mentioned Flash games in my article Linux games - Lots of great choices, I did not elaborate too much. Now, let's take a look at several great online Flash game sources that should help you waste your precious life more efficiently.

Armor Games

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I intend to add this site in my Greatest sites article. This online repository contains a huge number of Flash games. Not surprisingly, some are trivial and boring. But some of the games are really fun to play, addictive, well done, with reasonable visual detail and complexity.

Armor Games offers dozens of titles across a range of categories. While I must admit I have played only a small selection for a brief period, I was impressed by the quality of content offered. I truly believe you can find plenty of useful games and gamelets that should amuse you for quite a while.

One of my favorites is Crush The Castle, where you command a trebuchet and hurl missiles against a Lego-style castle. You have a limited number of trials. The castle is populated with medieval-looking figurines of nobility and soldiers, who make funny noises and splatter oh-so-graphically when you bring down a house of rocks onto their heads, alongside decent music and funny sound effects.

Armor Games 1

Armor Games 2

Once you complete a map, you move on to the ext level, gaining better weapons. As a man/child-at-heart and a physicist, the notion of using destructive force in lovely parabolas against people and buildings is simply too much to resist. A true life shaver!

Armor Games 3

Another two interesting games I've tried are the Arrow of Time and . The first game is about defending your floating castle against all manner of flying thingies, all of which look like retro-futuristic spawnlings from H. G. Wells' science fiction stories. What makes the game interesting is, once again, the physics. Firing arrows against the enemy takes two forms of skill - aim and strength. Use too little strength when nocking the bow and the arrows will undershoot; use too much and they will lob. Similarly, the enemy objects are only vulnerable when you hit their wings or propellers, making the whole thing more interesting.

In general, I dislike the 2D shooters, but Arrow of Time is an exception. It is far from being predictable as most games of this genre are, the music is soft and psychotic and you can actually enjoy the simple click-and-drag mouse motions.

Arrow of Time

Then, another piece that draws the eyes is the Armor Wars. Yes, I know I'm a bit genre-ic when it comes to choosing the games I like. Either way, the opening menu of this little game gives you an indication of what you should expect from it. Solid graphics, attention to details - and multiplayer mode, which makes it all the more interesting.

Armor Games 5

Scriball

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If I told you that you can have tremendous fun by playing a game which whole purpose is to get a ball from point A to point B using jump movements and a pencil-sketch-like, mouse-drawn, freestyle obstacle/ramp, you would probably roundhouse kick me in the gut.

Seriously, Scriball is an addictive, surprisingly witty game. It somewhat reminds me of Phun, which we talked about in the second mega-collection called More about Linux games - Part 5. Despite modest, seemingly disappointing graphics, the game has a clever physics engine that offers simply stunning results.

Your mouse can do anything basically. While the ball can jump up and down, you can draw any sort of a line for the ball to use to accelerate, decelerate, slow, divert, or change its motion, on its way to point B. Take a look at the screenshot below: the curvy thingie upon which the ball rest is something I drew. Jump the ball and then sketch another line. The ball will obey the laws of gravity. Very smart, very simple, very addictive.

Scriball

Line Rider

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Line Rider takes the Scriball doctrine to a whole new level. Instead of moving a nameless ball around, you draw a bobsled-like line course for your rider. The rider will begin on the leftmost edge of your sketch and then follow the course, limited by nothing more than gravity. The best part, you are not limited by the screen size. The course can extend 

The game seems so simple - but it's far, far from being anything but devilishly cunning and extremely difficult to master. If you make your slopes too ragged or too steep, your rider will simply fall instead of sliding gracefully. If you make them too mild, your rider won't gather enough energy and won't be able to jump far enough or bridge gaps, as evident in the second screenshot below:

Line Rider 1

Line Rider 2

You can find lots of Youtube movies, showing impressive Line Rider projects, where people have managed to keep their rider going for minutes on end, performing mind-boggling stunts, including somersaults, leaps and whatnot. One of the best demonstrations is the Jagged Peak Adventure. Simply amazing.

Articles

For other Linux-related game articles, feel free to click on any of the links below. Some of the sub-topics are recycled and do come around in more than one article.

Linux games - First Person Shooters

Linux games - First Person Shooters - Part Deux

Linux games - First Person Shooters - Part Three

Linux games - Lots of great choices

More about Linux games - Part 5

And some related articles, but not strictly Linux:

DOSBox - DOS is back!

Games resurrected using DOSBox - Part 1

Games resurrected using DOSBox - Part 2

Enjoying multiplayer games on LAN in DOSBox - IPX

Enjoying multiplayer games on LAN in DOSBox - Serial

Conclusion

That's it for today. I hope you really liked it. We have had a bit of everything, a few high-end FPS games with stunning graphics, a simple board games, a scattering of Flash games to keep you occupied for quite a while, some racing, and a mind-boggling ASCII strategy.

In the next article, we will discuss two, perhaps three more new FPS (Enemy Territory, anyone?), another racer or maybe two, several strategy games, some more simple Flash time wasters, and a few other surprises. After that, we will also have an article that explains how to obtain, install and play games on Linux, as this is not a trivial thing for Windows users and fresh converts. We will learn about several methods, from simple to hard, how to get Linux gamers running, including browsing the repositories, Playdeb, best online Flash and Java sources, WINE, DOSBox, manual compilation and execution, and other tricks.

Stay tuned for more updates. Meanwhile enjoy this lovely collection. I would appreciate many words of feedback and suggestions, since it takes time to write game compilation articles, 17 hours to be exact in this particular case.

I would like to thank the following people for their suggestions and ideas: Searching_ _ _, MaliX, Duncan, and another fellow whose name I cannot remember, but suggested World of Padman in an email; if you're that guy, feel free to remind me and I'll add your alias here.

Have fun and see you around.


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