|The year was 1999. The new millenium was just around the corner and we all stood around wondering whether or not the world was going to end at the stroke of midnight. Windows XP was unheard of for two more years. And one company was releasing one of the first PC games to actually use the then-new technology of 3D acceleration. |
While you were checking your bank balance yet again to be sure that none of your hard earned dollars were being eaten by the millenium bug, others were sitting down at their 200Mhz Pentium II's firing up Windows 98 and starting to wage war.
These days your computer is considered slow if it doesn't have at least a Gigabyte of ram, yet here was an amazing war game that ran on machines with as low as 32 megabytes. Many of you know what 32MB of RAM will hold. Your digital camera probably has 16 times as much memory.
I installed Warzone2100 on a whim. My wife was asking if I had any interesting games for her to play because she was getting really tired of solitaire. Although Ubuntu ships with over 50 different variations of solitaire, I can understand how one would get tired of playing cards. Solitaire just isn't my thing.
So I grab Warzone2100 from the Ubuntu repositories, not really getting my hopes up. Was I surprised? Boy Howdy!
Warzone is the mother of all RTS games. Literally. RTS stands for Real Time Strategy. As in, a game involving strategy that happens in real time. This game is war. Pure and simple. Build a base, drill for oil to power your forces and start churning out tanks to defend and conquer.
Some of you may be thinking that it sounds like Command and Conquer, and it is similar, but there are subtle differences... such as the fact that you design your own units from the technology you develop.
The tanks you can build depend on the level of technology you have captured from the opposing force. But at a glance they include machine-guns, missile launchers, mortars, bunker-busters and much much more. When you get further along in the game you get upgrades like Surface-to-Air missiles, VTOL propulsion and the ability to shoot missiles across the lenght of the playing field. Playing against the computer on the "normal" difficulty level is challenging and extremely addictive. Levels can last from 30 minutes to two hours and you'll find yourself replaying levels in order to improve your progress because the units you have when you finish each level is what you start the next one with. Barely make it through a mission alive? Better do that one again or you'll be starting the next mission with next to nothing. Also, your troops gain experience from one level to the next. So it's in your best interest to make sure they're not dying or you'll have an army full of rookies.
Having a good grasp of military strategy is a must. This is not a game where you can just jump in and start mashing buttons and come out on top. While the graphics are a little dated, they're not so bad as to diminish the gaming experience. In fact, if it were flashier, it might just take away from the hard-core strategy of it all. You can't spend time looking at pretty lights, you have troops dying out there!
If you've been looking for a good game to test your mettle, this one will do the trick nicely. And playing it won't cost you one red cent. Originally developed by Pumpkin Studios, and later bought by Eidos Interactive, the game was eventually released as Open Source and you can find it now for free on the Warzone2100 Ressurection website (http://wz2100.net/). Ubuntu users, for you guys, installing it is just as simple as typing in "sudo apt-get install warzone2100" in the terminal window and it will download and install automagically. How's that for easy?
Originally, the minimum requirements for this game are low enough that just about everyone will be able to run it. In fact they are so low you probably wouldn't believe it, so I'm just going to quote from the manual.
Pentum 166 MHz Processor
Windows 95 / Windows 98
32 MB RAM
2MB SVGA card
8X CD-ROM Drive
100% DirectX 6 Compliant Sound Card
DirectX 6.0 or higher (included)
75 MB of Uncompressed Hard Drive Storage
Keyboard and Mouse
Pentium 233 MHz Processor
64 MB RAM
4 MB Direct3D or 3Dfx compatible 3D Accelerator Card
16X CD ROM
Multiplayer Game requires one of the following:
IPX or TCP/IP local area network
28.8 Kbps or faster modem
28.8 Kbps or faster internet connection
Serial connection via null modem cable
Now though, the game has been picked up by a community of developers and maintainers that are slowly tweaking and improving the game. Chances are that the minimum requirements have risen by a small amount, but even still, its a pretty safe bet that if your computer supports 3D graphics at all, you'll likely be able to run this. If you've bought your computer in the last five years, its probably a done deal.
If your computer can't meet or beat these uber-low system requirements, give me a hollar, I probably have an old hunk of junk video card lying in the corner that will help your machine play it just fine.
See you next week!