Updated: May 19, 2010
Ninth compilation, here we go. I am not sure how big of an introduction I should make. Someone reading a ninth chapter in a saga is probably well versed with the prequels. Then again, there's always a chance someone new might stumble here, not quite in the mood to read everything else or familiar with other threads, and ask themselves, what this Dedoimedo dude has to offer?
Regardless, writing new and unique introduction paragraphs on the same subject is always a challenge unto ingenuity and creativity, as I have to wing something that will lure you in while being original each and every time. I think I did it again, so let's focus on the games.
Linux games, nearing 70 titles reviewed and another 20-25 planned, not counting this one. It's not all in the numbers, of course, but trying a hundred games can take time. Your time. And hopefully, you will enjoy some, if not all of them. Linux has lots of fun to offer; you just need to embrace it. Follow me.
Remember me whining about not being able to get True Combat Elite to run in my eighth compilation and promising to get it all sorted out in one of the sequels? Well, here we go. True Combat Elite, also known as TrueCombat:Elite (TC:E) is a total conversion of the highly popular Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory, a class-oriented, fast-paced online multiplayer first person shooter. Like the original game, TC:E is a freeware, cross-platform game. However, unlike the original, TC:E steps away from WWII into the modern world.
TC:E is everything Enemy Territory is, and then some. The game kind of reminds me of America's Army, when it comes to pace and detail. The game physics is quite realistic and the focus of combat is on short, intense fights rather than spray-and-pray tactics. The gun pointer is not shown by default and you aim using irons or more sophisticated sights, like intended. On top of that, the maps are even more beautiful than before, carefully crafted, very detailed and polished.
All of this on home LAN. I admit I have not been able to find any servers and this remains true even today. But I did get everything working as smoothly as baby oil by hosting a server of my own and mucking about, testing maps, weapons and playing different factions. The experience is truly great.
TC:E development has ceased in 2007, all of a sudden, but now it seems the lead developers has come back from the grave and there's a good chance the game may rise up once again, as it ought to. While official servers are still lacking, LAN play is definitely an option, as I've shown you above.
Oh, I will most likely be writing a full review once the scene heats up a bit and new servers crop up. Anyhow, this short review is a kind of teaser of the unleashed potential TC:E holds. It is a really beautiful, detailed and carefully done game, with a high level of aesthetics and the same color and fervor that keeps Wolfenstein very much alive, even though it's been out for many long years. There's no reason why TC:E should not enjoy the same accolade and popularity, except sheer human will to get things going. Stay tuned, this is a rough gem in the re-making!
PlaneShift is a free game where you partake in a virtual fantasy world as a citizen on a quest of becoming bigger, better, smarter, and more versed in things you do. There is no background storyline which you must follow. You decide what, when and how. Naturally, every decision you make will have consequences.
You begin as a simple, clueless character, who needs to slowly gain skills and items and learn how to interact with the world. The first mission is a tutorial designed to get you familiar with controls, inventory and communication.
There are several bots specially designed for this task. When you start talking to them, they will explain the game concepts, as well as send you on small, trivial errands, like retrieving a lost book or learning how to operate a forge. Don't expect things to happen too fast. PlaneShift requires dedication and patience.
Once you're ready, you set into the world, where you can solve quests and puzzles, fight monsters, gain magical items, trade, even get married if you wish, improve your character, and interact with other players, including server-controlled creatures. The focus of PlaneShift is limitless diversity and an open, anything-goes setting. Nevertheless, you're obliged to step into your character and behave accordingly. Do not talk about cars, lasers or the stock market, because such things do not exist in a medieval world.
Be warned, though, PlaneShift is not a complete game yet. It is in continuous development and will continue to grow. I believe the game has lots of merit and potential. Compared to, say, Regnum Online, PlaneShift seems much less focused on combat and there's less drama. The pace is also slower, too. On the other hand, you bond more closely with your character and you're absolutely free to do anything you want.
MedievilWars is a free MMORPG where you start as a fledgling kingdom in medieval Europe and slowly work your way up to diplomatic, economical and even military mastery of the region. You can play as either Britons, Normans, Saxons, or Vikings. Best of all, the game plays inside the browser, so you can enjoy it anywhere.
You begin with a small town. You need to grow your town by constructing and upgrading buildings and by conducting research. Higher levels of building allow you to research new technologies, which in turn unlock new building levels. Your citizens will produce gold through tax and resources by working in your buildings. This will allow you to train and equip military, caravans and other units to defend your town, attack others or trade with friendly cities. You will also be able to interact with other kingdoms through diplomacy to build relationships, which will enable you to grow even more.
MedievilWars is a fun game that takes the concept of a classic strategy online. It takes patience, because upgrades and research take many minutes to complete, but if you're keen on pitting your wit and power against human players worldwide, you will enjoy the challenge. The idea is refreshing and the execution cozy and cute. For people who like strategy, with a twist, this seems like a very nice choice.
It is said that when you're trying to review a certain game of a certain genre, you either find none or they come in triplets. The same is true here. Eternal Lands is another MMORPG, the type of games which I've been exploring a little more deeply lately, having found a renewed interest in exploration and role-playing, except at home.
In Eternal Lands, you're free to do anything you want. There are no classes or special attributes that bind you to a stereotype. You begin by spawning in a magical medieval world, with the setting matching your race. Other than that, you can now start doing whatever you please, although you should confer with a few AI characters specially placed to help you get familiar with the game concepts.
You can go around, killing rabbits and collecting their pelts and whatnot, trade and socialize with other people, perform all sorts of small and big quests in return for favors, money, weapons, and additional items, kill other players in combat, or build up your productive skills.
Several in-game races are free, others need to be paid for. Other than that, there are no limitations. However, you should start slow and humble. For instance, you should not dabble in alchemy until you gain some experience. The tutorial bots will indeed advise you against all kinds of rash, perilous activities that you should avoid as a newbie.
Overall, Eternal Lands is similar to RuneScape, a Java-based game, except that it has better graphics and a more cozy setting. It take patience to master, so don't rush things. Compared to numerous other MMORPG I've tried recently, Eternal Lands is more of an open game without any clear objectives, somewhat less dramatic than Regnum and more complete than PlaneShift. So take your pick.
Speed Dreams is a fork of the popular racing simulator TORCS, which I have reviewed a while back. The game is very similar to the original title, so it's mostly polish rather than revolution. Nevertheless, the changes are pleasant and useful. Speed Dreams introduces many new features, including new cars and tracks, new car skins, a refined menu, and additional fixes. The game is in continuous development, so some of the releases may feel like beta. I did notice small glitches with the sound when testing, but overall the game ran well.
Playing Speed Dreams is not easy. Mastering the control of vehicles takes a lot of effort and gentle fingers, so you may be a little frustrated in the beginning. Compared to TORCS, Speed Dreams feels a little more realistic, but sometimes the over-rigorous physics may bite you. The cars behave well, although there are occasions when they are plain unresponsive. This could be merely the mental and physical handicap of the person writing this review or a clash of non-linear parameters like acceleration, downforce and whatnot.
Regardless, Speed Dreams is a simple, fun game. When you're too tired to think and just want to bleed off some pent-up rage, just fire up the game and race. If you liked the original title, you should give Speed Dreams a try.
Defcon is a multiplayer online strategy, where your sole goal is to lose the least in an all-out global thermonuclear war. At the start of a nuclear winter following a worldly exchange of nukes, survivors are counted. The side with least deaths is the winner. Linear and kind of WWI when it comes to math. Sounds like a lot of fun, and it is.
You begin by staring at a 1980s-style digital world map. Everyone has nukes and the world is gearing up for a major conflict. You have half an hour to prepare. In the thirty minutes allotted, you need to setup your region for a nuclear war. In other words, setup your airbases, missiles sites, radars, and nuclear fleets. Once the bell tolls, the DEFCON 1 level is reached and you can start launching the missiles. Or you can wait to be attacked first and retaliate.
DEFCON is pretty straightforward, but since you have no upgrades or reinforcement, you need to be very careful about what you do and how you bleed off your assets. For instance, missile silos double as ICBMs and very effective anti-ballistic systems. You can be aggressive and fire everything at your enemy or convert the silos into the defense mode and bear the brunt of the first onslaught. You will definitely lose some of your airbases and cities, but you will also shoot down a large percentage of incoming warheads.
You also have ballistic submarines and aircraft carriers, which you can move about the map. Your subs can hunt enemy subs or launch missiles against ground targets and shipping. The aircraft carriers can launch attacks or CAPs in protection of your national assets.
Remember that every decision can cost you millions of lives. You may also lose your forward bases and radars if you miscalculate the odds. Loading of missiles in your silos takes quite a bit of time, during which you may be totally exposed to enemy actions. Use your fighters and bombers wisely, because you have a limited number available.
DEFCON has demo version, offering a tutorial and a limited play on select servers, but enough to get you acquainted. Playing against the computer, you can probably finish a game in about an hour, but human matches can take many hours of grueling nuking.
DEFCON is a very decent and fun game, especially for Dr. Strangelove fans and those who love moving shiny things on a map. Quirky comments aside, DEFCON plays well. It's a unique, challenging strategy game that will gobble away hours of your time. The dark, somber colors of the world map and the seemingly simple, emotionally detached gameplay combine into a grim, tense, captivating suspense. The full game costs GBP15. I think it's worth the tag it carries.
Hacker Evolution: Untold (HEU) is not what you think. It does not teach you how to score a job with Secunia the next time you go for a job interview there. Nor does it do anything as absurd as the random keyboard hammering you might have seen in Swordfish - see my hacking article for that. HEU lives somewhere in between, in the comfort zone of exposing users to fun, digital puzzle while still being serious and yet not too difficult or boring to enjoy.
In the game, you're a young startup fellow framed for a crime in a world deteriorating into cyber chaos. You have to defend your good name and probably stop World War 3 and Bubonic Plague all at the same time. You've seen bits and piece of this scenario in various movies, now you can play the game.
You begin by playing a tutorial that is meant to give you the taste of what you're going to do. The black-green coloring is a bit 80s when it comes to hacking, but it does not interfere with the experience. You start with some innocent tasks, log/hack into a mainframe, decrypt hidden logs, mask your trace by using proxy machines for your work, and so forth. The hacking is done using a pseudo language. There are a few genuine Linux commands, but most are just fancy words.
Later, you will learn to use more complex commands. The puzzles you need to solve with become increasingly more difficult, requiring numerous steps of masquerading, probing and using external resources before you can get to the main task. The goal is to save the world without leaving a trace.
Hacker Evolution: Untold is an interesting game, although it may be a little far-fetched for people who handle this kind of stuff on a daily basis. But if you like a challenge, this is a good opportunity to dabble in leet. You have a demo to get you started. The full game costs USD25. An expansion pack, Flight Zero, is available to anyone who purchases the game. It continues where the original story ends.
One more compilation born and raised. Some shooting, several online role-playing games, a bit of racing and strategy. Not my longest review by all means, but it has a bit to please everyone. And that would be all for now. I have many more games to offer, but I'm holding myself. You'll see them all in the sequels, which just keep coming and coming.
As always, I hope you have enjoyed the review. If you have suggestions or you're a developer who'd like to see your game reviewed or given a better and wider exposure, feel free to contact me. Discovering new games is like finding a tenner in the backpocket of your freshly laundered jeans. In one word: a pleasant surprise. Well, that's three words. Anyhow, party on.