2 for Linux
admit it -- Linux gaming is for real. There are a few
good commercial game titles out for Linux, although
most of them have been first-person shooters, namely
Quake, Quake II and Q3Test, and ports of the Kingpin
client and the original Heretic. We’ve also seen a solid
turn-based strategy title, Civilization: Call To Power,
which was released almost concurrently with the Windows
version by Loki Entertainment Software. At LinuxWorld
Expo in Mid-August in San Jose, Loki released the very
first real-time strategy game for Linux, Myth 2: Soulblighter.
And oh what a release it is!
With 3dfx and glibc 2.1
before we tell you how great a Linux port Myth 2 is,
let us get the negatives out of the way. Myth 2 is Loki’s
first title that takes advantage of 3D, and thus is
at the mercy of the current state of 3D acceleration
for Linux. It only supports 3dfx-based accelerators
(surprise surprise) and getting 3D acceleration working
has a lot to do with the combination of which -exact-
Voodoo card you have, and what version of Linux you
are running on. Originally, we installed the game on
Redhat Linux 6.0 using a dual Voodoo2 SLI setup - far
from the latest and greatest in 3dfx cards, but certainly
not chopped liver or a dinosaur as far as 3D card setups
go. After we installed Myth 2, we found out that the
game would not run.
contacting Loki tech support (which is perhaps the most
responsive tech support department we have EVER seen
at a gaming company) we found out that the Voodoo2 version
of the GLIDE drivers were compiled for glibc 2.0 (a
set of C language libraries that serves as Linux’s base
programming API) and not glibc 2.1 that Red Hat Linux
6.0 is based on. Apparently, 3dfx never compiled the
GLIDE libraries for Voodoo2 on newer versions of Linux.
Therefore, I needed to have a Voodoo Banshee or a Voodoo
3, or run the game on an older version of Linux. Since
I wasn’t going back to Redhat 5.2 with a 2.0 Linux kernel,
my only recourse was to switch to a new video card.
Myth 2 also supports software-based rendering, and while
we admit it looks pretty nice, it’s nowhere near as
nice as the 3D version of the game.
3dfx Interactive was mega-cool enough to send us a new
Voodoo 3 3000 AGP board. After pulling out our beloved
hybrid TNT2/Voodoo2 setup and replacing it with the
Voodoo 3, we downloaded the experimental GLIDE 2.6 drivers
from the 3dfx web site and copied over the glibc 2.1/GLIDE
version of the Myth2 executable over from the Myth 2
CD. Reconfigure my X Windows system to support 16-bit
color, yadda yadda yadda, Presto! Everything worked.
Of course, we know our Linux readers don’t want to replace
their video cards just to run one game. Hello? Earth
to 3dfx? Recompile glide for Voodoo2 for Redhat 6?
You Versus the Zombies
that we’re done bitching about Linux’s compatibility
problems, lets get to the fun stuff. Myth 2:Soulblighter,
like its predecessor, is a real-time strategy game based
in a medieval fantasy world with an emphasis on tactical
combat rather than resource management. No mining for
Tiberium here and building up resources, the name of
the game is marshalling your troops into battle and
coming up with solid attack plans. If your troops get
killed in combat, chances are there won’t be any reinforcements.
premise of the game is built around an unnamed fantasy
world - its been 60 years since this major evil dude,
Balor and his Army of Darkness(tm) were defeated in
this big ‘ol nasty war. His generals, The Fallen Lords,
were quickly dispatched and everyone went back to their
regular programming of crop raising and animal husbandry.
the only surviving Fallen Lord, has returned to wreak
havoc on this now peaceful land, to pillage the animals
and rape the crops, and unleash his army of the undead
upon the land. Its up to you to get rid of Soulblighter
and his army of brain-eatin’, nasty-smelling, night
of the living dead zombies once and for all.
of the things we like about Myth 2:Soulblighter for
Linux is that it has a graphical based setup program
- finally, a Linux developer figured out that GUI installation
programs are a good thing. No shell scripts, no weird
commands - just pop the CD into the drive, mount the
CDROM, and run the 'setup' program on the root of the
CD. The program automatically detects whether you have
a Pentium or PowerPC (for those people running Linux
on a Mac system).
you get it up and running, Myth 2’s graphics are a real
treat - the 3D graphics are extremely crisp and detailed,
and we were able to play up to 1024 x 768 resolution
using a Voodoo 3 card. Minor objects such a pumpkins
growing in the farmer’s fields can be made out quite
clearly, and you can even see the leaves falling off
the trees. Hills and natural formations are contoured
and look highly realistic, and everything on the screen
can be rotated 360 degrees. Rotating the screen and
manipulating the view is actually part of mastering
the game - you’ll want to go through the tutorial level
first, as it can be kind of disorientating.
in Myth 2 is highly top notch; there’s plenty of ambient
sound effects and music, and it feels like it comes
at you from all directions - for example, If you walk
your troops past a waterfall, you’ll hear the water
rush from one side to another, and you can hear the
wind rushing past you. The voice-over narrative during
the cut-scenes is also clear and well-acted.
the single-player version of the game, there are 24
scenarios in which you command your troops to defeat
continual waves of undead monsters - such as zombies,
evil soldiers, bone-hurling Bre’unor, lightning-shooting
Fetch, mindless Thralls, and other nasty creatures.
As commander of the Armies of Light, there are three
basic units you have at your disposal: Warriors, Bowmen
are medieval soldiers armed with swords, shields and
chain-mail armor. You send them toward a bunch of monsters,
and they hack and slash.
are skilled archers that can attack monsters from a
distance with their bows and arrows. They can also shoot
flame arrows, which start fires when they hit the ground
and can burn the enemy if they walk through it. However,
Bowmen are only equipped with leather armor and daggers
to fight at close range, so you’ll want to keep them
out of harm’s way if at all possible.
are the most fun units to command - they serve as your
heavy artillery, and for little guys, they pack quite
a punch. Dwarves throw Molotov cocktails as their primary
weapon, and can blow an entire group of baddies to smithereens
with one bomb. They can also blow up laid satchel charges
as well as use incredibly powerful Dwarven mortars,
although this latter kind of dwarf is hard to come by.
Unfortunately, while the Dwarves are your most powerful
weapon, they also have a sick sense of humor, and will
throw their bombs into an entire fray mixed with your
own troops and baddies - so direct them carefully, or
you’ll blow up your own troops with them.
are also other units to control, such as Berserkers
(big Scottish barbarian-types wielding Claymores) and
Journeymen, who are used to heal your troops.
key to winning each scenario is forming an attack plan,
as well as proper staging of your troops into the correct
formation for each battle. Doing this takes a lot of
practice, and you’ll likely have to play each scenario
a few times before you get the hang of it.
the multiplayer version of the game, not only do you
get to get to control the good guys, but you get to
play the baddies as well. There are literally dozens
and dozens of scenarios and maps you can play, and if
you get tired of those, you can create new scenarios
with the supplied editors, Fear and Loathing. There’s
also several variations on the basic battle that you
can play, including Assassin, Capture the Balls, Hunt
the Animals, King of the Hill, and Stampede.
play can be hosted one on one, or you can play on Bungie’s
free online death match service, Bungie.Net. Registration
requires visiting the Bungie.net web site and filling
out a form to get access. Once you’ve played out the
single player game, you’ll find endless hours of fun
battling good and evil online.
in all, Myth 2:Soulblighter for Linux isn’t just a good
Linux port - it’s a damn good game, period, once you
get past Linux’s 3D hardware quirks. We recommend it
heartily to any Linux user looking for a solid RTS game.