Sauerbraten Cube 2 is a free First Person Shooter that features some unique and very interesting options.
It has virtually no story-line built in, and the basic premise is to shoot everything that moves, but the ability to make your own playable levels from within the game engine more than makes up for any shortcomings. Sauerbraten Cube 2 is fast-paced, shoot ‘em up action at its best, and adds a nice creative twist into the package.
Upon first hearing the name “Sauerbraten Cube 2” one thinks of a lunch cart from some far away land serving up geometrically shaped sauerkraut or something. It is not, however, a food item, but rather a a free first person shooter game that stands apart from its fellows in the genre by offering the option to build and play your own levels from within the play interface, as well as a handful of noteworthy features and details of the game itself. Like any game, and especially a freeware game, it has its own strengths and weaknesses, but in this case I think the pros far outweigh the cons.
First, the pros. Sauerbraten Cube 2 (SC2) was a lot of fun to play. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think on it. There were heavy overtones that were blatantly inspired by Doom, as well as other famous games in the genre of First Person Shooters (FPS). The Doom-esque feel of SC2 was, I think, the main reason I kept playing after the first few minutes. It was, for lack of a better term, nostalgic. Many of the enemies reminded me of some of the first enemies in the original Doom game, red demons with horns that shoot fireballs at you, for example. Also, the movement in the game is very like that in the early Unreal tournament games. You character moves forward smoothly, quickly, and with little or no noticeable bob, as opposed to the more realistic feel of modern shooters like Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare. This kind of movement has its own nostalgic feel to it, and only helps to bolster SC2s fun factor.
There are tons of game modes, including multiplayer across LANs as well as internet connections, bot-matches, and a couple of different campaigns to play solo. So, the gameplay is fun, but what about the other aspects of a game that are sometimes just as important? Well, the soundtrack is quite well done, and if you’re a lover of metal you’re going to absolutely adore the tracks that play in the background while you blow up waves of mutant and alien scourge. The tracks are high-quality sound and the production value is apparent in every lack of pop or hiss as well as the level of variety in the soundtrack. Considering this is a completely free game, that’s high praise, indeed. The graphics contain plenty of gibs and gore for the 15 year old in all of us, and the graphics engine supports more than twenty different resolutions. Frame rates were pretty steady throughout the game, around 30 or 40 frames per second most of the time, dipping to a low of about 22 frames per second during a few major action moments. Overall, the performance of the graphics engine is more than satisfactory.
One of the major reasons I wanted to try SC2, however, was the in-game level editor. SC2 allows you to use the commands and functions of the in-game interface to edit and create your own levels. This is a feature that is often seen with games from this genre, but it is usually a special program that runs outside of the game, a separate editor. SC2 actually allows you to change the levels and even create brand new ones that you can play immediately, from within the game engine. This forces the unique perspective of the player and the level designer to merge. I enjoyed creating my own levels in the game, but I have to say that the downside to the editor portion of the game interface has a somewhat steep learning curve. There is a little in the way of in-depth documentation for the editor, available at http://cube.wikispaces.com/Beginners+Guide but much of it is a trial and error process. Even so, the option to edit your levels while in game is a welcome addition to the already impressive lineup of SC2. There is a ReadMe that comes installed with the game that will give you some ideas on finding additional documentation and possible online communities for the game too. Overall, I spent probably twenty or thirty happy hours just designing levels and traps within them, which doesn’t even count the hours I spent playing the levels that my friends created or that came with the game installation. That’s a lot of play time for a freeware game to offer.
There were not a lot of cons, or downsides, to SC2 other than the steep learning curve. The story of the game is pretty non-existent, but the lack isn’t so glaring when one considers all that SC2 does have to offer. The graphics are older, yes, but that just means they will play on a large variety of different PCs, older and newer, and they still look good enough to play. My faithful PrtSc key didn’t seem to want to work with SC2, it just kept taking pictures of my desktop, but that’s a very small downside and there are tons of third party screenshot programs that will help you get around that if you’re really eager to take pictures of your SC2 conquests. Finally, some of the sounds in the game were a bit flat, lacking power or depth, but it was a very minor thing and I only noticed it when I went looking. There isn’t much to keep you from trying SC2, considering it is a free game, and there is a lot to suggest that you’ll have a great time.
The verdict: there are pros and cons to any game, but the thing that makes this one stand out is the details; the small details like the real kickback force of your guns actually moving your character backward when you fire. The major details like having cohesive level design and options like in-game level editors as well. All the details brought together make Sauerbraten Cube 2 an exceptionally enjoyable freeware gaming experience.
Until next time, my friends.
Compatibility: Windows, Linux, Mac. Required: 1GHz or higher CPU, 256MB RAM and a GeForce 4 MX or equivalent GPU. Recommended : 2GHz or higher CPU, 512MB RAM and a GeForce 6600 or equivalent shader model 2.0 GPU.
Get Sauerbraten Cube 2 here (approx 448 Megs)