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Warzone 2100 – Review

Despite the maybe Cheesy logo and banner, this was a top commercial game 25 years ago that still holds it’s own today.

Originally published by Pumpkin / Eidos and was available on the Playstation and M$ platforms. It was subsequently Open Sourced in 2004 and became it’s own project with a Linux version.

What is it?

Well, I think it’s classed as an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game. I guess it could be considered a pre-cursor to the likes of Command & Conquer, Red Alert and Halo Wars. Interestingly I find it much more challenging than the latter options and despite the slightly dated (although still good) graphics, more fun to play.

The command and control mechanism is quite like Halo Wars, however this is far more of a PC gaming game than a console game. i.e. it’s way more complex, eats up way more time, and the multi-user component doesn’t require an XBox-live subscription.

What is it all about?

So the game is a bunch of players, either real or computer generated on a 3D map, last man standing is the winner. You start with, well, there are many options, but at a basic level two “repair trucks” and from there you can build things.

  • Vehicle factory - build a factory, this in turn will allow you to build vehicles. I’d say “tanks” but it’s far more flexible than that. You get to design your own vehicles on the fly based on the technology you’ve researched.
  • VTOL factory, same but you get to build aircraft.
  • Research Facilities, allows you to research new technologies that you can incorporate into your vehicle, aircraft and defence builds
  • Various other Utility buildings, including (when you’ve researched it) a satellite up-link and Orbital laser death ray.
  • Defences, anything from barbed wire to Howitzer emplacements

Your “power” comes from capping oil wells which are placed strategically over the map and building pumps on top. Then building reactors … so securing oil wells and defending them is a relatively high priority.

What’s it like to operate?

Well you can play in Windowed or full-screen mode, I’d recommend full-screen. You can use the mouse to “move” over the map by just hitting the borders of the screen. Alternatively, once you’ve built a control tower, you get a “minimap” of the whole area of play and can move the viewpoint anywhere with a single click. Much like Halo Wars, you can zoom in and out, and change the camera angle. The difference the zoom is much more extensive here.

This is the same camera angle with full zoom in vs full zoom out. The game is very responsive even on old or low-end hardware. Plays well on a Raspberry Pi 5 and even had Vulkan support. (and you can tweak the shading, shadows, resolution etc etc if you wish).

Game Modes

What Games modes does it have?

Campaign

Well there’s a campaign mode which is pretty challenging and comes in three parts. You may not make it all the way through (!) but if you can, it will teach you a lot about the research tree and the tactics needed to defeat the AI. (there are lots of “howto” videos on Youtube re; tactics) There’s a nice scrollable graphic of the research tree here, I’ve not idea how many items there are to research, but it’s up in the numbers of hundreds. How long does it take to complete the campaign? Well I guess if you know what you’re doing, less than a day. First time, maybe 3-4 days :slight_smile: but then you can save and restart at any point so it’s easy to fit in around other things.

https://betaguide.wz2100.net/research.html?tree=1

Skirmish

There are lots of options here, I don’t know how it works for lots of players but it looks like you can have maybe 9 players (?) but certainly at least 4. There are a bunch of skirmish maps (maybe a dozen) and you can choose how many players, the starting technology level, amount of power available etc etc. How long is a game? Depends on the map, level of difficulty you choose, and the strategy you employ. My average seems to be about 2 hours starting from two repair trucks with difficulty set to “hard”.

How to Install

Well there are a number of options from compiling the whole thing from source, to installing a snap or flatpak package. I found the snap version was slightly out of date and didn’t contain some of the Raspberry Pi bugfixes. The flatpak package however installed no problem from the Debian software catalogue.

Summary

Very playable game for the committed gamer. Not really the game to burn 20 minutes at half-time :slight_smile:

wz2100.net

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