Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Linux games test

I noticed there's quite a lot of "big" games available for Linux on Steam. Partly inspired by this, I switched my computer setup to a slightly more able 1050 GPU-based system.

Now I don't have to resort to playing Half-Life 2, Portal or 2D indie games.

Here's a few more 3D-intensive games I've tried, with some completely unscientific notes on how they performed on my 64-bit Linux Mint 19, i5 3.00GHz × 4, 16 GB, 1050 GPU computer.

The native resolution of my display is 1920 x 1200 which is bit too optimistic for recent games.

Tomb Raider (2013)

Already somewhat old game, I could bear to play this through last year on my old setup. This was possible because the play doesn't need to be that smooth.

I recall that I lowered the resolution quite a lot, and turned off the more involved hair simulation(!) that brought the speed down.

At native 1920 x 1200
What was left for me to try how Tomb Raider benefits from the 1050 GPU.

At first I experienced surprising slowdown and tried to remedy the situation by lowering the resolution to 1024 x 768. This resolution can even look a bit crude without the anti-aliasing as the environments are quite detailed at times.

But then I found out that "somehow" it does work quite nicely with 1920 x 1200 by changing various settings, especially when using the FXAA anti-aliasing, which is what you might expect from a 5-year old game. It didn't seem to need the triple-buffering either for syncing.

at 1024 x 768, no AA, scaled to 1920 x 1200
2013's Tomb Raider is a well balanced combination of exploration, climbing and action shooting with some roller coaster type run/jump sequences thrown in.

The puzzle elements are now in optional sub-quest tombs which I felt was a good idea.

Besides the main quest there's bunch of things to do and collect, different weapons and equipment to wield and stats and items to upgrade. Instead of toting the dual-pistols, Lara's main weapon of choice now seems to be the fashionable bow.

1920 x 1200

Everspace (2017)

If there's one game that inspired me to upgrade my computer a bit, it's Everspace, because without 1050-level GPU it just quite didn't work.

Even now I went for 1440 x 900 to make it faster. Strangely I could not get the in-game resolution switcher to work so I pre-set the resolution through desktop.

Gorgeus locations at 1440 x 900
The play requires quite fast frame rate, otherwise maneuvering in the battles becomes too confusing. However, a better resolution would be helpful as you want to sort out details from far off so a balance needs to be struck.

A long time ago, I wanted to play Elite: Dangerous, but as that game is not available for Linux I turned to this as a consolation. In some ways Everspace is really closer to the original Elite, although in many ways it's not. It's been described as a rogue-like in space, which is quite nice description.

The Gunship
The universe is structured as a sequence of bounded small locations, accessed through jump points and jump gates. If you think about it this is not unlike the original Elite, except here the galaxy is not open for free exploration.

The locations are most often filled with detail, multitudes of asteroids and derelict spaceships and other wrecks. Realism and space simulation has been thrown away in favor of condensed situations, again, much like Elite.

Combat can get intensive with drones and auto-turrets blazing.
You'll often encounter hostile ships, either outlaws or the dreaded Okkars, but sometimes you can manipulate different factions to fight each other and only enter the fray at a more opportune moment.

Again, as in most modern games, it's possible to customize and upgrade your ship endlessly, switch weapon systems and acquire special one-off items.

The Long Dark (2014)

Another "oldie", and not too big either, this game would have worked rather nicely on the old setting, as the 3D is not very complex. Now I can play it on 1920 x 1200 resolution with all detail on.

I've not looked at the story mode, as the plain survival mode felt more interesting to me. The game places you somewhere in the wintry northern Canada, and a geomagnetic (read "magical") storm has broken all electrical equipment. You'll simply have to find a ways to stay alive in the harsh environment.

That fog isn't there to clip the view distance... it's there to kill you.
Some of the first moments with the game were quite intense. A lot of effort has been put into producing dynamic weather effects, literally the most atmospheric part of the game.

There's something satisfying in wandering desperately in a snowstorm and then finding refuge in an old cottage in the middle of nowhere. Then you try to get a fire up and running and arrange food and drink before opening the bedroll.

The Maintenance Yard. Those planks will be transformed into firewood.
The illusion begins to break for me as I realized the areas are meticulously designed to have certain amount of exits and inroads to other areas. (Possibly to facilitate the story mode) You really can't get that lost, and the cliffs are really un-climbable, ultimate constraints of the maze.

It turns out that as an abandoned national park, the neighborhood is filled to the brim with equipment, buildings and pathways to follow. A somewhat more generative universe would have been welcome for the survival mode.

Yet again, stuff to be crafted, broken apart to component pieces, repaired and so on and on, but in this game concept this seems more justified.

No comments:

Post a Comment