Free software strategy games

Even though it’s currently our exam period (or maybe because it is), I needed a way to have breaks from studying that were less mind-intensive and easier to save/restore than programming. So I looked into a couple of free open-source games that work on Linux. I’ve looked into other comments and blogs, and then decided to try some of them. Here’s the first batch of the more well-known strategies.

Warzone 2100

This is a typical futuristic real-time strategy with tanks, different weapons and over 400 technologies. It is very similar to another game I’ve played long ago, namely Thandor: The invasion, especially with the ability to arbitrarily combine platforms (tanks, hovercrafts, …) with a range of weapon systems. It gives a great deal of attention ta tactical warfare. You can build commander vehicles with no weapons which coordinate attacks of your units, and you can combine sensors with artillery to utilize their long range. The game features a full 3D view with amazing performance. It runs smoothly on my laptop with an integrated Intel graphics card even with ~100 units on the map. Unlike Thandor and most other similar games, there’s only one resource in Warzone, and this is oil.

The campaign, known as The Project, is divided into three parts and I’m in the last stage of the first one. So far it’s been very interesting, with both home missions (securing, defending and expanding your base) and so called "away missions", where you can only send a limited number of units to destroy enemy bases. I found the game very enjoyable and I think I’m going to at least try to finish the campaign.

The game has a multiplayer mode, but I didn’t have the time to try it.

I was also very nicely surprised when the game started in Slovenian. I’ve never had a commercial game do that. Props to the translators.

Bos Wars

I played this game before, but I didn’t like it that much, and now that I tried it again, I still don’t. It’s also a real-time strategy, except that it lacks many of the gameplay elements WZ2100 has. The graphics engine, altough fast and good looking, is 2D only. There’s also a very limited amount of units and no research, making it a completely tactical game. I also found the unit navigation algorithm quite bad, my tanks usually couldn’t find their way through the woods which cover most of the map. A good point of the game is two distinct resources, which improve gameplay by providing more diversity.

There’s also a campaign called "Elite", which is OK, but I didn’t play it for more than the first level mostly for lack of research.

I suppose with less depth it’s more suitable for fast multi-player games, but once again, I didn’t test multy-player modes at all.

LinCity

Despite its name and the fact that you’re building a city, this is not a SimCity clone. I played SC from 2 to 4 and Lincity is a very different game. It starts with either a pre-made scenario, a random small village, or completely from scratch. Then you build residental zones and different industries (potteries, blacksmiths, etc.), transports, and all the things a city needs. Unlike SimCity, you can actually win the game by either having a sustainable economy with no imports, pollution, or by evacuating the whole population to another planed with spaceships. As if having a beautiful flourishing metropolis is not a reward by itself. This game is certainly fun.

The game hase been graphically updated and is now called LinCity-NG. The graphics are nice, but you can see rough edges when zoomed in.

I like the resource handling in this game, where you can always see which parts of the city need what. Resources include ores, goods and things you’d expect as a resource, but also jobs (which is actually workforce, it’s a bit unintuitive). Getting the resources to wherever they are needed is the most important aspect of the game, as people will only come if they have food and goods.

I did, however, found the presentation of the resource system rather lacking. Building like potteries, blacksmiths, industries and even school function in the same way (they need some resources and produce others), but the info screen shows them slightly differrently, which tends to be annoying when you’re monitoring a large number of them.

Conclusion

Warzone is currently my favourite, followed by Lincity. If I discover some better game, I will probably write about it here. I am open to suggestions and links to games I don’t know which might catch my interest.

Here are the links to these games’ homepages: Lincity, Boswars, Warzone2100. They are all in the Ubuntu repositories, and in either the official Arch repo or in AUR. Neither Ubuntu nor Arch package Warzone’s videos, so you have to download them from the website.

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