Review – OpenRA

System requirements:

Shader Model 2.0 capable GPU (Radeon 9500+ / GeForce FX5200+ / GMA X3100+)
1GB Free Hard Drive Space 
512MB RAM (the game itself uses ~100MB)
Sound
3 Button Mouse
Network Card (desirable)
Display capable of at least 1024×768

(so basically any pc made in the last 10 years)

Review – OpenRA

There many games developed during the late 80’s and early 90’s that became cultural icons in their own right. They became the yard-sticks from which future games in that genre would be measured by. Super Mario Bro’s for Platformers. Doom for FPS games. Ultima for RPG’s. Myst for adventure games.

In 1993 a developer called ‘Westwood Studios’ had released one of the most ambitious game titles in the history at that point. A game set in a alternate Earth but modern times, telling a story from both sides of a fictional war. They used all the tricks they could to tell a compelling story from both sides of a war, complete with hammy acting in the video cut-scenes that would play before each mission.

I am talking about Command & Conquer. After it found very quick success Westwood had pushed out a expansion pack the following year, ‘The Covert Operations’ in 1996. In 1996, they released the first spin-off game (which was planned as another add-on to the original game) called ‘Red Alert’. This game took what worked in the original and improved on it. Better art, sound, everything.

The following year the released not one but 2 expansion packs, ‘Counterstrike’ and ‘The Aftermath’. Adding all this goodness to an already great game.

Then in 1998, Westwood Studios went back to one of their original successful games and remade it. Dune 2000 was released and although it used the same engine as Red Alert, it did not fair very well critically with IGN and gamespot giving 5/10 each.

All these games are among my favourite games of all time, and I have bought every edition of these games that I could find but past few years (since I made the switch to Linux)I could not enjoy them as much in a emulated environment(Dosbox and virtualbox) but I was surprised when I found out about this OpenRA whilst browsing around Google when I had heard that Command & Conquer and Red Alert (including the addon packs) became freeware and I was looking for a way to get these games running in Linux again.

I was surprised when I not only managed to find this program but also saw that it was open-source. Updated to use the hardware acceleration of modern video cards using OpenGL and cross-platform positional sound built upon OpenAL. The people behind this not only managed to recreate the engine powering up these games. They also allow you to download the assets that would be needed to play the game from a server (if you do not have the cd or the freely available ISO files previously downloaded).

Gameplay.

While I (and possibly you) love the classic RTS gameplay, multiplayer game design has evolved significantly since the early 1990’s. The OpenRA mods include new features and gameplay improvements that bring them into the modern era:

1. A choice between “right click” and classic “left click” control schemes

2. Overhauled sidebar interfaces for managing production

3. Support for game replays (during single and multiplayer) with an observer mode designed for online streaming

4. The ‘fog of war’ that obscures the battlefield outside of the line-of-sight of your controlled units/buildings

5. Civilian buildings that can be captured and used for strategic purposes.

6. Units gain experience as they fight, improving with each rank.

Therefore these are classic games with modern standards that work in each ‘mod’.

Plot/Story.

With the game being focused more on the multiplayer. There is a large single player component with many of the original missions being recreated in this engine.

But each of the 3 mods have separate stories:

Dune 2000

openra-dune2k

Three great houses fight for the precious spice melange.
He who controls the spice controls the universe!
Establish a foothold on the desert planet Arrakis, where your biggest threat is the environment.

Command & Conquer – Tiberian Dawn

openra-cnc

An alliance of nations fights to protect Europe and northern Africa from a mysterious terrorist organization and the valuable but toxic alien mineral, Tiberium, that is slowly spreading over the world.

Command & Conquer – Red Alert

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In a world where the Third Reich never existed, the Soviet Union seeks power over all of Europe. Allied against this Evil Empire, the free world faces a Cold War turned hot.

Conclusion

While this is an amazing piece of work that is slowly improving all the time, I cannot wait until they implement their next feature into the game. Support for Command & Conquer 2 – Tiberian Sun!

I will happily rate this ‘game’ an extremely well-deserved 85/100.