Time to kill? Check. Running Linux? Check. Now, here's the last piece of that puzzle: 15 current and future gaming options that don't require Windows.
While gaming on Linux has suffered some recent setbacks with id Software and Atari seemingly having abandoned the Linux platform, there are some bright spots on the horizon. (See Commercial Gaming, Coming Soon to Linux?.)
Many believe that Wine and other Windows emulation solutions may be their only recourse for high-quality gaming enjoyment. That, however, it not entirely true. There are plenty of smaller, independent gaming houses developing and releasing premium commercial games for Linux alongside Mac and Windows offerings. Search hard enough and you’ll find games ranging from low-resource puzzle solvers to 3D first-person shooters.
Let’s have a look at some of the games recently released for Linux and a few up-and-coming prospects for the future. Stop Wine-ing. Start playing.
Bullet Candy Perfect
Bullet Candy Perfect was released for Linux this past February following an October 2009 release for Windows. It is an update of the original Bullet Candy sporting a new engine and higher quality graphics. The game is an arcade-style shoot-em-up free-for-all. Although it was said that Bullet Candy Perfect is similar to Geometry Wars, reviews state that a faster pace, prettier graphics, and little extras make it worth playing.
The game has 50 levels, 3 difficulty settings, and support for gaming controllers. The price of this action game can’t be beat and system requirements are very modest. The game can be had for as little $1 although, officially, it’s pay what you want. A demo with 15 levels is available for this game.
One popular game that has won many awards and earned placement on several best game lists recently was Machinarium from Amanita Design. It garnered raving reviews because of the rich graphics, lovable hero, challenging puzzles, and darling backstory. It is developed in Flash with all the advantages and disadvantages that brings. The advantages include being easier to port to alternative platforms like Linux and Mac, but the disadvantages of Flash in Linux are legendary.
The game played well for most users, but could exhibit undesirable behavior occasionally ranging from substantial slow-down to annoying lag at some of the most inopportune times – like when a count-down timer was running. Fortunately, these glitches were few and far between and seemed worth it to be able to enjoy the immersive and addictive world of Josef, our hero. The game ends with what can be seen as a setup for a sequel, but the main developer has said in interviews (1, 2) that is still undecided. The game costs approximately $20.
Another company releasing their games for Linux is Frictional Games. Their first releases, collectively known as The Penumbra Series, not only brought the excitement of thrills and chills but also hope that Linux gaming is still alive and well.
This series consisted of three releases, each a fully functioning 3D first-person puzzle adventure set in a dangerous, scary, and challenging netherworld. The first installment had some first-person altercation segments, the second concentrated almost solely on puzzle-solving, and the third was heavy on task completion; although all three had elements of each. The Penumbra games were released individually in 2008 and 2009 at the cost of $10 and $15 each, but all three can now be purchased as a set for the bargain price $20.
World of Goo
Much like Penumbra or Machinarium, World of Goo is a puzzle game wrapped in an immersive alternative universe. The object is usually to navigate through the gooey world by fashioning Goo Balls into tightropes, bridges, swings, towers, boats, and such.
Possibly more popular than Penumbra or Machinarium, World of Goo has a long list of raving reviews, but rarely is a game analysed for its social and political relevance. For most people, it is a beautiful world, lovable characters, challenging puzzles, and just plain addictive. World of Goo became wildly popular last year when its developers ran a “pay what you want” sale, but is currently priced at $20.
World of Padman
World of Padman is a more recent entry of the Ioquake3 3D first person shooters and like the others, it is Open Source software and free to download. It is based on the Padman comic strip and features similar physics and modes as other Ioquake games, but with more cartoon-ish textures and models with less bloody carnage.
There are plenty of additional maps and soundtracks available from community contributers and it boasts a rather large core team with frequent updates and releases. World of Padman began life several years ago as a mod for Quake 3, but was released as a stand alone game in late 2007. The community surrounding Padman has grown rapidly making the game quite popular and the recipient of several positive reviews. The graphics of this game might not appeal to all users, but it does make for some wacky gameplay suitable for gamers of all ages.
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