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PC games software Reviews
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Cube 2: Sauerbraten review


Manufacturer: Dot3Labs

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Cube 2: Sauerbraten is a free editor for designing and playing first-person shooter games.

Cube 2: Sauerbraten is a free editor for designing and playing first-person shooter games, primarily aimed at multiplayer LAN games.

Cube 2: Sauerbraten is a free editor for designing and playing first-person shooter (FPS) games, primarily aimed at multiplayer LAN games. It is an entirely open source/freeware project, actively supported and developed, and supports a good set of features, all of which ultimately lead to getting some friends together and blowing each other to bloody gobbets.

While many systems for designing FPS maps use an editor/engine split, where you engage in an edit/test/edit again cycle, Cube 2: Sauerbraten makes no such distinction. You load up, or create, a map, then press "E" to begin editing it, and "E" again to leave edit mode. At the simplest level, editing consists of extruding or deleting cubes and adding textures, but to create the kind of beautiful maps you can see in screenshots or play as part of Sauerbraten's distribution package, you will need to master a variety of skills, as well as creating or importing textures designed for your specific needs.

Cube 2: Sauerbraten does not use a standard Windows interface. Most editing in Cube 2: Sauerbraten is accomplished by some mix of click a key, then spin the mousewheel. In essence, you constantly shift into different modes. Press y to make the mousewheel cycle through textures. Press g to make the grid size smaller or larger. Multiple players logged into a map can all edit it co-operatively, allowing teams to work on a project and see each other's changes happening dynamically.

In some cases, you need as much co-ordination to edit a map as to frag your friends. For example, bending and deforming corners in Cube 2: Sauerbraten requires holding down the mousewheel while dragging to select a range, then spinning the mousewheel to edit the corners, all without ever letting the mousewheel up or clicking any of the other mouse buttons. Our failure to master this skill meant that we constantly lost our selection, selected the wrong squares, or were only able to perform a partial edit before our fingers slipped.

As with many open-source projects, Cube 2: Sauerbraten's documentation is sparse and sometimes out of date. There is a forum for asking questions, but it uses very non-standard forum software that seems to have fallen through a timewarp from 1998, with a simple list of topics-as-links. There's a wiki, but it consists mostly of stub articles and partially written guides that tend to make assumptions about prior knowledge.

A fairly basic scripting language (CubeScript) is also part of Cube 2: Sauerbraten. It's intended primarily for trigger events (such as causing a monster to spawn when you cross a square), rather than scripting advanced AI or adding complex new features. The engine source code, though, is open source, so it is certainly possible to use it as a base for adding additional functionality via more traditional means.

>> NEXT PAGE: Cube 2: Sauerbraten in pictures

Cube 2: Sauerbraten Expert Verdict »

1.4GHz processor
Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003/7
340MB hard-disk space
mouse with left- and right-click buttons and scrollwheel
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

If you're interested in FPS map design- and aren't afraid to get your hands a little dirty and experiment a bit to figure out what works and what doesn't - download Cube 2: Sauerbraten and check it out. Just make sure your mousewheel finger isn't as itchy as your trigger finger.

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