Saturday, 25 October 2008

3 Classic First-Person Shooter Games for Linux

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
A true classic and one of the most played online first-person shooter games, Wolfenstein: ET was supposed to be released as a new mod for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but the single-player part of the game was abandoned and it was released at no cost, as a standalone multiplayer game.

Today, after over five years since the game was released, ET is still one of the most popular online FPS games out there, at least on the Linux platform.

ET is one of the games which puts accent on the teamplay, as well as learning to use abilities for each class which you play with. There are two factions or sides: the allies and the axis, and you can choose to play as a soldier, engineer, covert ops, medic or field ops. Each of these classes has special abilities, and you'll get points from using them. For example, the engineer can plant mines as well as arming and disarming bombs, while the soldiers clear the path by killing the enemies and the medic heals everybody. That's what I like about this game: you get experience for healing teamplayers with medics for example, rather than going into battle, get yourself killed and leave the players in your team without any chances of revival.

There are many mods available for ET, and although the game is not maintained anymore, the mods and skins are updated and keep the game alive, bringing something new with each new release. The maps are truly wonderful, and after five years, I still love the graphics.

Mastering this game can be hard for newcomers, and you will need over a year of playing constantly to get to a decent level, even if you're used to FPS games. Trickjumps are another aspect of the game: some maps include several places where a trickjump helps you get into a strategic position or reach an objective faster than the usual path.

To fix the sound issues you may have with ET, use the script provided here and follow their instructions to run it. You will also need to update your Punkbuster files if you want to play decently without being kicked on Punkbuster-enabled servers.

Wolfenstein: ET is definitely one of my favourite games and also a wonderful addictive experience. I warmly recommend it to anyone searching for a good FPS game, native on Linux.

Unreal Tournament 2004 is closed source, but it's one of the few commercial games which also provide a native Linux port.

I can say UT2004 has everything one would want from a shooter game: it has many types of weapons with secondary fire mode available, vehicles, several official modes of playing, like the Onslaught mode which is pure fun in my opinion, and combines both DM/TDM skills with vehicles, team synchronisation and, yes, brains. Because being late at a power node, even with two seconds, can cost your team the entire game or round. It's truly a game for teamplaying, and you'll never suceed in a 8vs8 Onslaught game all by yourself, no matter how good you are. You'll need to know how to wait in vehicles for your teamplayers, and when. You'll need to have each player with exact tasks, you'll need to know who your best manta/goliath/hellbender players are and let them use it at full potential. The Onslaught mode will be one of the best experiences of the game in my opinion.

I think UT2004 brings you into a new universe the moment you join an online server, and really shows how skilled a player is. UT is not the kind of game where all you have to do is point and shoot, you will have to use a second weapon mode, to move constantly on the map thinking in the same time where your opponent is, help your teammates when needed, leave behind vendetta ideas when in Onslaught, because it will only get you and your team owned (or pwnd, if you like).

UT2004 also have a statistics system available, although don't take it as 100% accurate. I've seen players which switched teams at the end of a game, just because they were losing and they did not want to be included in the statistics with a loss more. I say play the game for pleasure and forget the kiddie non-sense.

A little about the UT3 port for Linux. Currently there is no release date scheduled, and I'm not sure when it will come. According to old news on Phoronix, it will also include a game editor built in wxWidgets.

There is a Linux Demo client, but it has some nasty bug which makes the game freezes and you'll have to kill it in command-line mode. if you don't like the integrated music player, you can use the alsa-oss package and run UT2004 as aoss ut2004, and this way you'll be able to hear both music playing in an audio player like Amarok or Banshee and the game sounds.

One of the most powerful games in the history of shooters, Unreal Tournament became a legend, and I say it's one of the games which can keep you playing it for hours.

Quake 3
In fact, I will talk about ioQuake3 here, which is a project started independently of id Software, after the game was licensed under the GPL in 2005. ioQuake 3 continued development to Quake 3, fixing bugs and bringing new improvements to this true classic game.

I think there are no persons out there, with a minimal experience with computers, who haven't heard about Quake. It's one of the most popular and well-known first-person shooter games ever since the first Quake was released.

To run it, all you have to do is install the ioQuake3 binary provided on their website, and then copy the file pak0.pk3 into your ~/.ioquake3/baseq3/ directory. Games like OpenArena use ioQuake3 and their own packages to create a new, completely free game. It's included in most of the distributions, including Debian and Ubuntu repositories.

The best thing about Quake 3 is that it works very well on old hardware, and there still are servers with enough players to provide a good playing experience. It has many modes available, but I recommend the classic DM, TDM or CTF.

Related articles
First-Person Shooter Games for Linux II: Nexuiz and OpenArena
First-Person Shooter Games for Linux III: Urban Terror

Updated: March 31, 2009


Shamil said...

Why play the old quake 3 using the ioquake3 engine when you can just play openarena which is a lot better and free. Not only having graphical enhancements but also contains a free team arena implementation.

Dan Craciun said...

I know, actually I plan to make this reviews in more than just one part, the next one should include Nexuiz, OpenArena, and eventually Sauerbraten. I plan to cover all the native FPS games in the following articles.

Also, ioQuake3 is a great project and some still like the old graphics and maps better than the models in OpenArena etc. I guess it depends on taste.

Kinox said...

Don't forget to check out the awesome and free Urban Terror @

Urban Terror™ is a free multiplayer first person shooter, that (thanks to ioquake3) does not require Quake III Arena. It is available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh. The current version is 4.1.

Urban Terror can be described as a Hollywood tactical shooter; somewhat realism based, but the motto is "fun over realism". This results in a very unique, enjoyable and addictive game.

No registration required: Download, install, play!

Dan Craciun said...

Thanks, I know about it. I used to play TDM a lot on algiers and several others.

Anonymous said...

As well as OA, it's probably worth mentioning that there's a fully free clone of ET, called True combat Elite.

Anonymous said...

UT 99 is entirely more classic than UT2k4, 2k4 isnt even in the same class. UT99 it still the best version of ut and runs like a dream on linux. Too bad you didn't mention it

Anonymous said...

Also try out Alien Arena.

Anonymous said...

ioq3 would be great were it not for the politics involved. Example: the fbo bloom patch that has died in their bts while Ryan Gordan can show up with voip support and it is instantly included because he's Ryan Gordan and everybody loves him. Plus the SDL thing isn't too popular, but then no one has come up with a ttyioq3, yet. d-;

btw- True Combat: Elite is a clone of counter strike and a mod of Wolfenstein: ET, not a free clone of ET.

tangram said...

Wolf: ET is imho THE best team-oriented FPS ;-)

I've been playing still since 2003 both competitively and casually. Fun, deep, fast and skilled.


Anonymous said...


alien critters verses space marines

Wu Shi said...

Very cool....

Anonymous said...

not to mention bzflag - many servers out there - simple graphics, fast and nice gameplay (installable in ubuntu via aptitude by default)

Anonymous said...

AssaultCube based on cube engine is very very good game.

Anonymous said...

" It's one of the most popular and well-known first-person shooter games ever since the first Quake was released."
I am old. I would have replaced Quake with the word Doom in the above sentence :(

Crysis 3 said...

I must say I have never tried UT2004,
but it looks nice, I think I will watch the videos in youtube to see what it is all about.

about the other two, they are GOOD, and I mean like Classically GOOD.