This article is part of the first-person shooter games reviews I'm putting up. Until now I talked about Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, ioQuake3, UT2004, Nexuiz and OpenArena. For those who want to read my previous articles, here are the links:
3 Classic First-Person Shooter Games for Linux
First-Person Shooter Games for Linux II: Nexuiz and OpenArena
I will dedicate this edition entirely to Urban Terror, a great first-person shooter game which was initially developed as a Quake 3 mod and evolved into a powerful and fast standalone game. Most of the people who played both Counter-Strike on Windows (or through Wine) and Urban Terror usually have the same opinion when describing it: it's like Counter-Strike, only better. That was my impression too. I think Urban Terror is the best alternative for those who like CS and eventually made the switch from Windows. It is natively supported on Linux, it is maintained constantly and it has a solid community. In fact, when I first played it about a year ago, I was stunned to see that I was playing it very good just because I was used with Counter-Strike.
Developed by Frozen Sand, the team behind it, Urban Terror was initially developed as a Quake 3 mod, but the game offers now a complete package and can be run without the need of Quake 3 binaries. The last version, UrT 4.1, comes with a ZIP package for Linux, of about 700 MB, and you only need to uncompress it, make the ioUrbanTerror.i386 binary executable and run it.
A multiplayer game on Abbey
The game features modes like TDM (team deathmatch), FFA (free for all) or CTF (capture the flag) and provides a large number of weapons to choose from, like the popular Kalashnikov, the M4A1 or the Remington SR-8. Usually each weapon should be used in a different way (for example you can use to Remington to snipe your opponents and the powerful Kalashnikov for medium-range combats). Notice that the rebound is pretty high, so firing constantly will do anything else but hitting your opponent. It's best to use burst firing when you have an automatic weapon.
Prague, one of the most popular maps
One of the features I find great in Urban Terror is the ability to run for a short distance, then keep the crouch key pressed: this way you will be able to move very fast, and it's useful especially to make quick and unexpected attacks and to go quickly from one part of the map to another. Of course, there is an energy bar which will start to decrease when running or jumping, so you will have to walk from time to time too in order to save strength for when you will need it.
Another feature is the ability to 'bandage' yourself and other wounded teammates. After a successful attack against you, your character will not be able to run or walk at full speed unless you bandage yourself (or another teammate bandages you). Also, depending on how much health you have left, you will not be able to run at maximum speed or make long jumps.
The game comes bundled with around 30 wonderful maps, which vary from cities to jungle areas or desert. Maps like Kingdom, Abbey, Prague or Uptown are very popular on the Internet servers.
The game was designed for multiplayer only, and bots are not supported officially, but still there is the possibility to play against bots (read how in this forum thread). Instead, the game offers a great and dynamic online playing experience. The servers are usually crowded, and the multitude of mods will certainly fit any fan of fast-paced shooter games.
Uptown, probably the most played map
The graphics are not very impressing, but at least this allows the game to run on older computers too. I tested on my Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz and GeForce 7600 GS and it runs at a steady 76 fps using the resolution 1280x1024. I usually encounter frame drops only on several maps with water and many players, otherwise there are no problems running it.
Another aspect worth mentioning are the trickjumps and the ability to jump off walls, which, in combination with the run/crouch ability will let you go in places inaccessible otherwise.
Many competitions are often organised, and details regarding those are available on the official website and the forums.
In conclusion, Urban Terror is awesome in every aspect (maybe except the graphics which are not exactly the newest) and it offers a great pleasure playing it. It's fast-paced, it has plenty of mods and maps, and it allows you to configure everything just the way you want it.