Friday, February 24, 2006

Nexuiz Review

Nexuiz, developed and published by Alientrap.
The Good: It’s free, multiple game modes, server options are fairly powerful, works in Windows, Mac, and Linux
The Not So Good: Laggy in multiplayer, unoriginal
What say you? A free, modified shooter based off the original Quake: 5/8

After some popular games come of age, the developers decide to release the nuts and bolts of the game to the community so people can modify things to their heart’s content. This is also true of Quake, where id software has released the source code. Not surprisingly, there have been several modifications resulting from using the original Quake engine, and Nexuiz is one of those games. Available for free download, Nexuiz adds new maps, weapons, game modes, and models to the fray.

Since Nexuiz uses the Quake 1 engine, you might expect the graphics to be slightly outdated, and you’d be correct. However, to Nexuiz’s credit, they have made some enhancements to the engine, adding some more effects and better textures, so it looks slightly more modern than it could. Utilizing some of the more advanced features (like bloom lighting) requires a pretty good computer. The sound is along the same lines: some small improvements are made from the base code, which is really all we could ask for. Probably the most memorable aspect of the sound is the squishy effect that occurs when you are killed. Both the graphics and sound are functional and look better than the original Quake.

Nexuiz plays a lot like Quake with some minute changes. The fast, intense gameplay of Quake is still intact, so if you enjoy that style of play, you’ll be all set here. A lot of more recent games have tended towards more tactical shooting, so it’s kind of nice to see a game that harkens back to the good old days of numerous frags in a short period of time. You can play games against AI bots or online against real people, or setup a server using a combination of both. The bots can be turned more powerful and can display some good skills on higher intelligence levels, such as defending a control point. The weapons are combinations of the better weapons from Quake and Unreal Tournament, including a shotgun, grenade launcher, machine gun, electric gun, and several others. The things doing the shooting are an eclectic arrangement of monsters and people who are more than happy to explode into a bunch of red splotches for your enjoyment. The maps in the game include copies of some original Quake maps (those brought back some memories) and some new designs. Typically, the new maps are better looking, not held back by the graphical restrictions of the original Quake. There are five game modes in Nexuiz (again, a combination of Quake and Unreal Tournament): deathmatch, team deathmatch, domination (capture control points), capture the flag, and runematch, which is deathmatch with objects that have a positive and random negative bonus. The online play I have experienced has been less than smooth. At first I though it might be because my graphics were turned too high, but playing against the bots doesn’t result in any lag. Since most of the game will be played against real people, this is kind of disappointing and is probably the worst aspect of the game.

Nexuiz boils down to the original Quake with some upgrades: graphics, sound, weapons, models, maps, and game modes. It’s nothing overly original, but it’s free, so the only thing you’ll spend is the time downloading the game, and you might just enjoy it, especially if you have a hankering for some old school Quake action.