Quake, Meet GPL; GPL, Meet Quake
This first game is basically an attempt to re-create Quake 3 Arena, but with free graphics, models and so on. If you ever played Quake 3 Arena, Open Arena will look very familiar. Because it uses the new-and-improved engine (ioQuake3, based on the original Quake 3 engine), I think it's actually more fun than the original. Don't tell id.
For Ubuntu users, simply type the following to install Open Arena:
# sudo apt-get install openarena
If you are using a distribution that doesn't have a package available, you can download the zip file from www.openarena.ws, and follow the simple directions for installation. (Basically, unzip the files, and start the executable for your architecture. It's pretty simple.)
Once you start the game, you first need to configure things. Because my video card is on the slow side of pokey, I set my resolution to 640x480, and most of the other details to low. Unlike some of the other games, Open Arena has a single-player version. That's great news for me, because on the “I Can Win” setting, I actually can do fairly well. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of me dying (note that most of the screenshots in this article are of me dying—I'll pretend it's on purpose).
Open Arena is fun. It's fast, simple and you get to blow stuff up. Even though the game says it requires 16MB of video RAM, Open Arena ran extremely well on my 8MB system. It's the kind of game you can actually play during a television commercial and frag 20 people (or get fragged 20 times) before the show starts again.
Urban Terror started as a game mod for the original Quake 3. I actually played it back when it required Quake 3, and apart from being more mature, the game play is very similar. The difference, of course, is that now it runs on the open-source ioQuake3 engine, so it's completely free. Urban Terror is designed to take the first-person-shooter-type game into an urban landscape. As creepy as that sounds, it actually makes for some interesting maps and allows for realistic firearms.
Urban Terror has the least-friendly Linux installer. If you read the installation instructions closely enough, it's not too difficult, but my suggestion is to use the handy-dandy installation script available on the forums (see Resources). One important installation note is that if you run the installer as root, the game will be accessible by all the users on your computer. It's also important to follow the directions on the forum post. If you do so, it will download all the needed files, create icons and download some common maps.
Urban Terror is a multiplayer game. Generally, this means you play on-line or set up a server and play on your local network. It is possible (although unsupported) to add bots to your server, so in theory, you could play alone. Not all maps support bots, and bots tend to cause random crashes. If you're like me, however, and can't hack it against real people on the Internet, it might be worth the effort. Because bots aren't officially supported, I'll leave it to the reader to add them (see Resources).
It's a little more complicated to jump into an Urban Terror game than playing a quick game of Open Arena. The weapon selection is done at the beginning of a round, and without doing some research, it's hard to tell which guns are best. I tend to stick with the default choice. I also tend to get shot a lot, so the default weapons might not be the best bet. Figure 2 shows an example of the realistic maps in Urban Terror.
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