So, first things first, apologies are in order. Due to a seemingly conspiratorial series events including the unexpected longevity of an aforementioned sickness, long-term power outages, and a whole lot of being busy with other things, this site has been update free for two weeks now. For that, I'm sorry. The business mentioned above is largely the culprit for yet another problem - I had absolutely no idea what to write today. So, from now on, a new policy can be considered in effect: Whenever I've got nothing else planned, I'm just going to pluck a random game from the front page of The Linux Game Tome, give it a go, and relate my experiences.
This week's pick was Warsow, another entry into the ever growing pool of multiplayer-focused first person shooters appearing on the Tome. I wasn't expecting much going in, which isn't to say I was expecting to be disappointed. It's just that after a while, all the various deathmatch oriented shooters seem to blend together into one twitching mass, at least to me. In a way, I got what I had been expecting, but I did end up quite pleasantly surprised by what I found.
The first thing you'll notice about Warsow is that it has a whole lot going for itself in the style department. It's a Quake 2 based engine(QFusion I believe it's called), but it's cell-shaded - definitely a first for free FPS games. Most of the other features games like Nexuiz and Alien Arena have been cropping up with, such as light bloom, are also in effect. It's not this that really caught my eye, though - I've seen these effects before. It's the way they're used that really shines. The wdm2 map is one of my favorite deathmatch maps ever - credit definitely goes to the way it plays (we'll get to that in a second), but the look of the level is so unique but, at the same time, cohesive - it's a level of immersion I've rarely felt in a deathmatch situation. Not to mention, light bloom (and related new, shiny effects) look much better in a clean, crisp sci-fi setting than they do elsewhere.
When I first started up a local server and took a look around the maps, I wasn't sure if a game with so much style would have any gameplay to go with it. Luckily, it plays just as tight as any of it's peers, even Cube (which is a huge plus in my book). Since I just grabbed it today I've only had an hour or two online with it, but the DM games I took part in (both free for all and team varieties) played smooth and fast. The weapons don't stray from the standard shooter pantheon but they are represented well, and they look and sound great for the most part. Sounds in general are good - the power up and character sounds are especially good, although the rocket launcher sounds lack a little "oomph".
Warsow has definitely got a whole lot of promise. It's only got a small handful of maps, but the gameplay is already solid. Once they've had some more time to add some maps (capture the flag is apparently already supported, just no maps yet), it should be even better. Frankly, it's my favorite of the current multiplayer FPS games floating around.