Descent3 for Linux

Kudos to the fine folks at Outrage and Loki for getting the latest Descent into our sweaty little hands.
Multiplayer

Descent3's multiplayer support is, well, phenomenal. You have nine types of multiplayer games to choose from, ranging from the favorites like “Capture the Flag” and “Deathmatch” (Anarchy mode) to the much less frequently seen (but often missed) “Cooperative” mode. The “Monster Ball” mode is kind of like a soccer game with spaceships. You can play in TCP/IP-based mode for direct connections, or if you're looking for a game, you can connect to Outrage's Parallax Online (PXO) gaming network and join a game in progress. The descent3 binary can also be run by itself as a standalone game server for the truly hardcore who want to host their own dedicated Descent3 server.

Figure 2. Take down the HUD for those fights when maximum visibility is critical.

Linux Notes

Descent3's installation footprint can get hefty (up to 1GB), but Loki's installer includes options for a much smaller install, mainly done by leaving the movies on CD. The game's hardware requirements are pretty low for the intensity of game play offered. Loki recommends only a 300MHz CPU (and even lists 200MHz as the bare minimum) and 64MB of RAM. One pitfall that Loki doesn't mention is that if you leave the movies on CD, you might want to consider a slightly faster CD-ROM than the 6x minimum recommended by Loki; my older 8x drive was choking and coughing in several of the more intense movie scenes. Software requirements include the usual Loki list: Linux kernel 2.2.x and Glibc 2.1 and, of course, for network play you'll need TCP/IP support and an internet or LAN connection.

One item on Descent3's minimum equipment list is a 3-D accelerator card. Several card options are supported and have been tested, including most of the more popular 3-Dfx Voodoo series (by way of a nice dedicated Glide renderer), the Matrox G200/G400-series cards (by way of Utah-GLX and Mesa drivers) and NVIDIA cards supported by NVIDIA's OpenGL-endowed X server (in-game testing, this reviewer's GeForce GTS worked flawlessly). For a complete list of cards and drivers that have been tested with Descent3, it's probably best to check http://www.lokigames.com/ for the latest news.

Optional equipment for Descent3 includes the Rock'n Ride gaming chair available from http://www.rocknride.com/ (the coolness of which really defies description). Loki has even been kind enough to include detailed instructions on how to use the new Descent3: Mercenary expansion pack for Windows with the Linux version of Descent3. Very sweet.

Summary

Again, what can I say? This game is very entertaining, very well written, very well executed and extremely fun to play. The graphics are exceptional, the sound effects are clear and high-quality—even the music is great. The basic movement controls may be a bit complex but nothing that shouldn't be expected for the amount of control you have over your ship. The general game controls are simple, easy to operate and logically arranged. The multiplayer action is second to none, and the 3-D support is trouble-free. A truly excellent game; for the first-person shooter genre, this is one of the coolest titles out there.

The Good/The Bad

Linux Game Update

J. Neil Doane (caine@valinux.com) is a professional services engineer with VA Linux Systems and an Indiana escapee. Between prolonged spasms of rabid geekness, random hardware scavenging and video gaming, he is a pilot, a guitarist and a very poor snowboarder.

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