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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

By Joe Barr on May 12, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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After I reviewed Alien Arena last year, some readers criticized my choice of that first-person shooter (FPS) as the best free software game I had played. Several suggested Nexuiz would have been a better choice. At the time, I had not played it. Now that I have tried Nexuiz 2.4, it has become my favorite free software FPS.

Nexuiz runs on an improved Quake engine called DarkPlaces. The engine has been undergoing on-and-off development by Lord Havoc, the game's creator, for several years. On icculus.org, Lord Havoc says he developed a custom OpenGL-only engine for DarkPlaces, and other modifications that "support Windows WGL and Linux GLX and have greatly improved graphics and image quality."

Downloading and installing the game

I grabbed the latest version of Nexuiz from the Nexuiz project page. It's licensed under the GNU GPL -- version 2.0 or later, your choice -- with versions available for the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. The tarball includes binary versions for each platform as well as the source code. Linux executables are available for both 686 and 64-bit architectures. Each has two client and two server versions: one set is built using the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) graphics library and the other using GLX. I played both the SDL and the GLX 686 versions on Ubuntu 7.10 and couldn't tell the difference between them.

However, I found a noticeable difference playing Nexuiz on low-end vs. high-end machines. I played first on my desktop box, with an older AMD Athlon CPU, 1GB of memory, and an Nvidia GeForce 5200 video card. The game seemed a bit sluggish, so I tried it on my Acer dual-core Athlon with 2GB of memory and integrated GeForce 6100 chip set and video. I never played the game on the desktop box again.

Til death do us part

Nexuiz is all about deathmatch game play. Deathmatch is the default game mode in single-player play, but you can play other game modes online, or you can create your own single-player game and specify another mode of play, such as Team Death Match, Capture the Flag, Domination, or Rune. The gamemodes.txt file in the Nexuiz/Docs directory provides more details on the various modes.

Nexuiz provides an wide selection of weaponry to help accomplish your goal of killing as many opponents as you can, as quickly and as often as possible. Choose among Laser, Shotgun, Machine Gun, Grenades, Electro, Crylink, NexGun, Hagar, and Rockets. No matter which you use, it's like No Country for Old Men on steroids.

Welcome to Tweaksville

Version 2.4 has a completely redesigned UI. It's gorgeous. Click on one of the three panes -- Singleplayer, Settings, or Multiplayer -- and the UI zooms in on it so that you can select, tweak, and fine-tune your Nexuiz environment however you like.

Click on Settings in the opening window, and you're face to face with a scrollable UI where you can set the input options for keyboard and rodent game control. Don't like the default options? You can make custom bindings here as well.

The stylized menu bar at the top of the window offers you further options for Video, Effects, and Miscellaneous. Video options include all the usual setups: screen resolution, color depth, full screen or windowed, color settings, and so on. A long sleek bar labeled "Apply Immediately" runs along the bottom of the window. If you click it, it does what it says.

The Effects window provides another fistful of choices, including macro-level quality selection. Pick Low, Medium, Normal, High, Ultra, or Ultimate quality, and all the individual choices are made for you. Or you can pick and choose the individual components -- texture quality, particle quality, anisotropy, and more -- and set them directly. An option to display the frames per second lives here, too.

Miscellaneous options include settings for demo recordings and speedometer display/metrics. You can adjust the volume for the music, game, and ambient audio tracks, and you can make other tweaks as well.

Multiplayer mode

Besides these three main areas, more settings are available. For instance, when you select Multiplayer from the opening screen for the first time, you enter the Player Setup window. Here you can set your player name, choose from about 20 skins (both male and female models), adjust your field of view and zoom factor/speed, and modify the default network settings.

In addition to Player Setup, you can select Servers or Create from the Multiplayer menu bar. Select Servers to see what games are available on the Internet. By default, the Servers UI lists the servers it finds in order of ping response times, with the fastest being first in the list. Each entry shows the server name, map being played, and players allowed and playing. You can change the sort order by clicking on the column title: Host Name, Map, or Players. Reverse the current sort order by clicking on the column title a second time. To join, click first on the server you desire, then on the Join bar. Any maps you need to join the game in play will be downloaded prior to your actually joining the game.

If you're familiar with Quake-style first-person shooters, you can probably just jump right into a game. If you're like me -- an occasional player -- or a complete newbie to the genre, you'll do well to do a little reading first. Nexuiz has lots of good information available in the form of FAQs, documentation, wiki, and forums. The #Nexuiz IRC channel on irc.quake.net is friendly and helpful.

After you've got the settings for audio, video, and control functions to your liking, spend time playing in single-player mode prior to trying an online game against others. Single-player offers 21 different levels of play, but you have to earn your way from level to level by winning each one as you go -- unless you "hack" the game by entering g_campaign_index 20 at the console, that is. Then you can start off with all the single-player levels available to play.

Conclusion

Nexuiz is now my favorite free software game, at least in the realm of first-person shooters. Credit the eye candy or perhaps the speed of play -- or both. The Nexuiz 2.4 UI is fast, easy to use, and attractive, and it doesn't get in the way of the fragging.

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on Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.39.146.182] on May 12, 2008 08:14 PM
It's interesting how the whole article avoids talking about the actual gameplay.
Understandable though as it is rather terrible. :(

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.21.107.11] on May 12, 2008 09:21 PM
How about Sauerbraten? (www.sauerbraten.org) It looks amazing and has great game play...

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Re: Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 162.83.176.14] on May 15, 2008 11:09 PM
the visual quality of sauerbraten is not as good as nexuiz's

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.16.12.68] on May 12, 2008 10:12 PM
Somehow, the only fps I come back to is Urban Terror. It' not full of shiny shaders and so on, but the online gameplay on a good CTF server is better than anything else I've tried.

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.210.100.230] on May 13, 2008 01:05 AM
Hello,
Nexuiz is a cool game, and so is Alien Arena 2008. But Hands Down the best GNU FPS game is Open Arena. Check out the new .76 version at their website www.openarena.ws . Open Arena is the best, since it is basically quake 3 arena with new artwork, maps, models.
I encourage everyone to try Open Arena.

I also play the freeware Urban Terror, which curretnly consumes about half my playing time.
SlippJigg

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.68.51.27] on May 13, 2008 02:09 PM
The nexuiz IRC channel is on irc.quakenet.org, not irc.quake.net

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Re: Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Joe Barr on May 13, 2008 03:55 PM
Well, there is one on Quake.net, too. I'm on it right now.

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.154.221.235] on May 13, 2008 04:52 PM
Warsow anyone?

www.warsow.net

Free software, new gameplay, new maps, new gfx...
Besides: The only free game to be accepted in the esport community!

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 210.0.106.26] on May 14, 2008 04:57 AM
Warsow has very distinctive graphics, but for less hardcore gamers it's waaay too difficult. Nexuiz is good but it really requires a hefty computer; I'm surprised it ran acceptably on the laptop. I've got a 3GHz Core 2 Duo desktop with 8600GT graphics and it was beautiful (but I couldn't run it on Ultimate video settings).

There are always interesting ideas in the Free Software FPSes. Nexuiz's best idea is about being able to remotely detonate a rocket in-flight with the second trigger.

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Nexuiz, I love it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 159.46.248.228] on May 15, 2008 02:50 PM
I was always a fan of the UT99 over-the-top arcade style FPS, and I even got it running under Wine pretty smoothly. Unfortunately, the (necessary) anti-cheat plugin doesn't work under Wine so I was looking for a similar replacement. Since a while I'm playing Nexuiz and I love it! No cheaters with aimbots and such, and gameplay feels very familiar coming from UT99.

Thumbs up!

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.67.55.191] on May 15, 2008 07:43 PM
I'm going to have to disagree with the statement about hardware requirements.

If you turn down the graphics quality, you can get the same fast 'n fraggy action on much older cards. The settings window even offers a variety of presets for the entire spectrum.

My old geforce 2 MX 400 doesn't render the game at its prettiest, but it's hardly "sluggish".

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.3.214.75] on May 15, 2008 09:51 PM
Best FPS ever. http://www.nexuiz-france.com : La communauté francophone de Nexuiz.

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.169.138.122] on May 15, 2008 11:08 PM
As a nexuiz player of around two years (off and on), I have to chime in here. By my observation, about 90% of the players on public servers don't yet know the techniques to move around properly within Nexuiz. There are a lot of tricks to advanced movement, especially when utilizing the laser (the bouncy weapon). This is one of the elements of Nexuiz that intriques a lot of players. Since February of 08, there is a growing North American clan community for Nexuiz that is making headway with various side projects to help improve the Nexuiz experience for everyone. These efforts are helping to retain players so the community grows, while also helping people reach a higher skill level in a shorter time frame.

Often, I'm told how helpful and nice people are in the Nexuiz community compared to other gaming communities. You can get help from a large number of people in the Nexuiz community, especially the regulars. I take time to teach technique to newer players at least 3 times a week on a regular basis. There are projects planned for video tutorials and coninued development of a teaching mod to offer free classes to help newer players grasp the more advanced movement and tactics.

I've heard many people comment about Nexuiz after just an hour or so of gameplay. Unfortunately, you can't really grasp the best aspects of Nexuiz in that timeframe. Two years into playing Nexuiz and I'm STILL learning new techniques all the time. There is a surprising amount of depth to this game. I hope you can find some time to dive into it and also ask many questions so you can find out how deep the rabbit hole goes with this game. -Dokujisan

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.26.150.52] on May 17, 2008 04:45 PM
I've been playing Nexuiz for a few months now and I think it's great. I tend to stick to deathmatch type gameplay, but I know there is a pretty big CTF group as well. To the people that say Nexuiz is just another quake clone I have one response: Grappling Hook. For me this is the most innovative thing about Nexuiz's gameplay. The grappling hook allows for super speedy and innovative movement and for me at least, gives Nexuiz its unique feel. I don't know if there are other FPS games out there that incorporate a grapple hook like Nexuiz, but if there are I haven't played them. Until you've played on a server with the grappling hook turned on you haven't played Nexuiz.

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Re: Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 98.223.51.134] on May 26, 2008 07:33 AM
I just downloaded Nexuiz today and started playing...absolutely love it. The grappling hook was actually present in Quake I for their online multiplayer, so it's nothing "new". I played a ton of the original Quake and the UT series, and love the fast-paced style. It's nice to find an environment like that in an open source game. After just a few hours of playing tonight, I think I'm hooked...

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Nexuiz shoots to the top of gaming list

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.213.218.195] on June 05, 2008 04:13 PM
The newest 2.4.2 patch is excellent and makes the game much faster on my system.

And how sick am I of internet nerds who think their opinion is the only one out there? You may not like Quake style deathmatch, but here's the thing: We don't care. Nexuiz is fantastic, balanced and fun.

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