I’m no hardcore gamer — my hey-day of first-person shooter games was back in the stone ages of Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM for the PC, and most definitely drunken dorm room multiplayer games of Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo64.
These days chess is more my speed, but over the weekend I discovered the open source project Open Arena which took the classic Quake 3 Arena game engine and has remade the game’s content so that everyone in the world can play it for free on Windows, Mac, and Linux!
While graphically not up to today’s high-end shooters, to my eye the game still looks great at my computer’s full-resolution. And, even better, since it is based on a nearly 10-year-old engine, it still runs great on modest computer hardware — it flys on my aging G5 iMac even with all settings on high.
The whole game is based around deathmatch play (and its variants like capture-the-flag) and is designed for network play. However, I know my skills aren’t up to getting pwned by experienced players on internet servers, so I’ve been enjoying playing against the computer’s very strong “bots” in single-player mode. This is a fast-paced twitch type game — if it moves, shoot it!
The maps I’ve played through so far are well-designed and the assortment of weapons from the shotgun to the rocket launcher make for lots of choices and playing styles. I’m going to experiment with setting up a server and inviting friends to have a little violent stress relief, but for now am still quite enjoying 20 minutes here and there of getting destroyed by the computer opponents!
If you enjoy the first person shooter genre, but like me have modest computer hardware and no Wii, Playstation, or XBox, I highly recommend downloading Open Arena (version 0.76 was released at the end of April, 0.80 is expected in August) and seeing what the open source gaming world has to offer.