Linux Port of ShogoPorted by Hyperion Software
Published by Titan Computer
April 27, 2001 -- Review by A.T. Hun
Updated May 3, 2001
I must confess that I really like Linux. One of the things that is stopping me from converting entirely over from Windows is the fact that most of my games need Win32 to run. Thankfully, companies like Loki and now Hyperion are porting our favorite Win32 games to Linux. One of Hyperion's first efforts is a port of Monolith's Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.
Shogo is an animé-influenced tale of Sanjuro Makabe's attempts to assassinate Gabriel, the leader of a rebel faction on the planet Cronus. That planet is vitally important because it is the only source of kato, a unique energy source that makes interstellar travel possible. Along the way you get to use terribly powerful weapons and awesome mecha (giant robot) armor. Lots of things blow up. A good time is had by all.
I'm not going to focus on the game itself, but primarily on the similarities and differences between the Linux port and the original Win32 version. The first difference you will notice is in the system requirements for the game.
If anything, the system requirements for the Linux port are understated. I have a Celeron 400, 128M RAM and TNT2 Ultra (0.9-769 drivers) on a fresh install of Red Hat 7.1. In Win98 I can run Shogo at 1024x768 will all the graphic options on high and it runs very smoothly. I had to run the Linux version at 640x480 with the graphic options on medium to get a decent framerate. Even at that, things really bogged down in a firefight. That wasn't a problem in single player, but it made multiplayer extremely difficult (more on that later). Lowering the graphic options further didn't really help, so the Linux version must just be more CPU-intensive.
One thing that does save a lot of frames is disabling music in the launcher. The game plays music off the CD. In some cases, disabling it gave me a 400% speed-up! If you can do without in-game music (and I think most of us can) then this is a must.
The box that the game comes in is very handsome.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the manual. They made one generic manual for the Linux, Amiga, and Mac versions. It is somewhat crudely laid out. Not only that, but the manual is in both English and German. It has a paragraph in German, followed by the same paragraph in English. While this is convenient from a printing standpoint, it is annoying for the end-user and makes it very difficult to read.
Another minor annoyance is that the CD comes in an envelope and not a jewel case. This is a pet peeve of mine. I find it difficult to believe that you can save that much money by dropping a jewel case. Oh well.
Here is where the manual really makes life difficult. These are the installation instructions verbatim.
At the end of the installation you are prompted for your serial number, name, address, etc. Yes, you need a serial number to play the game at all so warez monkeys need not apply. Unfortunately Titan Computer (the publisher of the Linux port) forgot to include serial numbers in the first run, so they were placed on small (1/4" x 2") stickers on the shrink-wrap. Like any red-blooded game player, I had quickly discarded the shrink-wrap. Because I procrastinated in taking the garbage out, I was able to recover the number.
This is where the port really shines. Despite the somewhat higher requirements, it is very faithful to the original. I could find no differences between gameplay in Linux and in Win98. As a matter of fact, you can even argue that it is better in Linux because Shogo doesn't lock up with NVIDIA cards like the original does.
The game is rock-solid. It never crashed once on me. I only found a few minor bugs. Sometimes the waving Shogo logo in the background doesn't display while loading a level so you just get a plain baby-blue background with white letters. I did also find a rather bizarre bug where the game stopped rendering the graphics if I crouched (the game kept going though, if I moved forward I could hear shooting and such). It turned out to be a botched saved game. Like a moron, I erased the corrupted saved game before sending it to Hyperion's programmers. Since then, I have been unable to repeat that bug.
For the longest time I tried to figure out how to access the console. After hitting just about every key on my keyboard, I discovered that it defaults to F10. That can be changed under "Advanced" in the launcher. It's a small point, but I'm sure everyone will be asking about it.
I played online for a little bit on one of the few remaining Shogo servers. Everything worked very nicely, even with custom maps. I did find myself bogging down in firefights which made it tough to play. I'm sure that part of the problem is also my rusting Shogo skills. I could only seem to get one server to refresh at a time in the multiplayer wizard. I can't say with certainty if that is a Shogo bug or a bug with the way my wireless Internet connection is set up in Linux.
Update May 3, 2001: Apparently it is a problem with my wireless setup. I tried using the multiplayer wizard by logging on with my modem instead and it worked fine. I'm searching for a fix for this.
I think I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Shogo for Linux is available from Tux Games for only $26. That's quite a bargain in my mind. I purchased my copy from them (no affiliation, yadda, yadda) and received it in only six days, despite the fact that they are located in England and I am in the U.S.
If you are a fan of Shogo, this is a no-brainer. Buy it. I would hope that a few server admins will pick it up so we can see a few more servers out there. If you are a Linux gamer, Shogo would make an excellent addition to your gaming library at a price that won't break the bank.
Very faithful to the original
Rock solid and stable
Higher system requirements
Less than stellar manual
9 out of 10