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Future Linux Game Evaluation

Sep 10, 1999, 13:02 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

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By Paul Ferris, Staff Writer

You know Linux is going mainstream when you start to see games appearing virtually overnight for it. Recently in the mail I was sent some new pre-releases for evaluation purposes, and I thought I'd share my opinions with the Linux Today readership (imagine that!) so that they could make better informed game buying decisions.

By the way, don't look for these babies anytime soon. Since they are pre-releases the titles and plot-lines might get changed before you see them. Even so, the type of games presented here are fairly similar to other games that you may have seen or played in the past. I'll even go so far as to predict that you may have seen the plot-lines as well.

Oh well, more Linux Innovation(tm) to come, I'm sure.

Game: Quickhack III

Type: Shootem-up

Description: You're Linus T. - space marine. Marooned in a distant country, you have nothing but your wits and an ever-growing army of volunteer mercenaries at your disposal in a quest to bring justice to a corrupt world. The enemy in a huge monolithic space ship has delivered a virus to mankind that causes a sizable portion of the population to become computer illiterate.

Armed with little more than your wits at the beginning of the game, the odds seem bleak at first. As play progresses you begin to decimate everything in sight with an ever increasing arsenal of weapons.

You begin with nothing but a GCC pistol, progressing through an I386 rotary cannon until you obtain the ultimate weapon - the LNX9000. This gun is capable of clearing an entire room of nasties with one pull of the trigger.

Play progresses through ever more populated levels until the very end when things are going so fast that practically no one can comprehend what's going on.

Scoring: There is no score, and the player at most times during the game doesn't even seem to care.

Rating: 5 out of a possible 5.
This game is addictive and thrilling. Hours of enjoyment and many exciting puzzles make for a great gaming experience. I can only predict that this game will be a hit for years to come.

Game: Klien DOJ

Type: Detective Adventure

Description: Assigned one of the toughest cases in American history, you must bring down the Redmond Mob. Evidence proves hard to collect as witnesses won't testify for fear of retribution. Blatant law breaking actions occur in plain sight of the general public but no one seems to be able to do anything about it until you come along. The head honcho, a sinister figure who goes by the name of "El Gato", has enormous power, and play is fairly rough until the final courtroom scene where mobsters fall like flies as their credibility stretches beyond comprehension. Even as insurmountable as this seems, you still have the ability to win one for justice.

Scoring: You either win or lose.

Rating: 4 out of a possible 5
This game is quite entertaining to play. The graphics during the end trial were so realistic at times that you have to remind yourself that it's a simulation. Of course your crafty legal team does just that every time, proving that the evidence has been fabricated.

Game: PR Boondoggle

Type: Simulation strategy game.

Description: You've been given the task of protecting the public image of one of the richest and most corrupt corporations in the world, a software monopoly. Your job: Attempt to polish the company reputation while cleaning up after large quantities of mistakes. Gaping security holes found in the product? No problem, simply fabricate press releases about the tireless souls working for weeks to fix them for a captive customer base. Work diligently to smear competitors products with half-truths and phony benchmark statistics. Earn high points by comparing your company to industries that either have no bearing or outright disprove your point. Provide false and misleading letters to the editor and phony public discussion responses. Game-play can go on for hours as you strive to protect your company's ever deteriorating reputation in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary.

Bonus round consists of fabricating ever more creative optimism to be parroted by company legal mouths on the steps of the supreme court.

Scoring: The score is a tabulation of three factors: Spin, Fud and Smoke.

Rating: 2 out of a possible 5
This game was amusing at first, but later play becomes repetitious and predictable. The end result is always the same, as no amount of press coverage and spin seem to be able to cure the skeptical public.

Game: Pac Mac

Type: Arcade

Description: Resuscitate dying products by running around and painting them different colors with your magic spray gun. Create new product lines by stealing as many free code projects as you can find and slapping your own proprietary license on them. Increase unit volume by preventing evil customers from making simple hardware upgrades.

Scoring: Based upon number of units processed

Rating: 1 out of a possible 5

Although the colors are a nice touch, play is two-dimensional and at times boring and predictable.

Game: Fantasy CEO

Type: Fantasy Role Playing Game

Description: Head up one of the worlds most powerful companies in this wild fantasy RPG. Make statements in public that have no bearing on reality. Contribute money from your vastly accumulated mass of ill-gotten wealth at key points to distract opponents from battles going on in other places. Score bonus points by throwing spells read from magic books such as the mysterious "The Road Behind". Vanquish opponents by starving them of valuable treasure and other objects in the deeper recesses of a dark, lawless fantasy world. Bonus points gathered in pie and question dodging rounds.

Scoring: Score is based upon stock price at the end of each round. The higher the stock price, the higher your score.

Rating: 1/2 point out of a possible 5
This game is amusing but the scoring system is unbelievable. In just a few rounds the evaluation copy of this game had generated a score so high that it caused a segmentation violation and a core dump on the test system. Before that the score was so high it seemed out of plausible believability. Vocabulary choices at times were limited to just a few selections, such as "I don't know....", "I don't recall...", and "What did you mean by...". This detracted from the overall play-ability of the game and added to overall frustration.

Overall conclusions

Of all the games played, I think the PR Boondoggle one had the most realistic graphics, making it frightening to play. If I had to pick a game that was the most fun, it would be QuickHack III. It would be cool to have a gun like the LNX9000 in real life, eh? Klien DOJ had the most action scenes, and Fantasy CEO offered the most comic relief. Of all the games, Pac Mac was the most antique, even with the colorful graphics. I couldn't help but think that something different or some new approach should be done to spruce it up.

There you have it. This pretty much clears up the "Linux lacks mainstream applications" complaint. With Innovative(tm) games like these, hours of entertaining FUD, er fun can be had and are just a mouse click away.

My apologies to Arlan Levitan, who was inspirational in the writing of this article: Arlan, you are dearly missed, in case you didn't know.