Not too many people have heard of AssaultCube, and it is fair to say that it's not a popular game. AssaultCube is a multiplayer first person shooter with a couple of features that distinguish it from the rest of the pack.
AssaultCube has a little bit of history behind it. It started in 2004 when a small grup of members from the Cube community (another multiplayer first person shooter) developed their own version. At that time it was called ActionCube, but they had to change the name because it resonated too close with Action Quake.
The game has a lot of elements in common with Quake and Counter Strike, but it's sufficiently distinguishable from them. The main differences consist in the size of the maps, which are smaller for this game, and the speed used by the players to move through the maps. AssaultCube is said to be slower than Quake, but it has a faster pace than Counter Strike.Installation and system requirements
Most complex games that run in Linux distributions require compilation or at least some tweaking in order to run properly. AssaultCube is not one of them. The game can be played on all major platforms, Linux, Windows and Mac OS, but the main package only weights around 50 MB, which is an achievement in itself.
The developers, Rabid Viper Productions, provide two separate packages, a source and a binary. To run the game “out of the box” players only need to run the “assaultcube.sh” executable. After that, users can choose a series of parameters, like resolution and graphical details (antialising, dynamic lights, dynamic shadown), and so forth.
The small size of the game, although a great asset a few years ago, it has some drawbacks from today's gaming perspective. Some of the maps are really small, especially if they are populated by the maximum number of players, which is 32. Other problems are the antiquated graphics and small textures. I name them both as part of the same aspect. If you have a game this small, some things have got to go, and graphics are among the first to be affected.
In the same directory with the game there is also an executable for a private server wizard that provides simple configuration steps. The server can only be run in the terminal, but the instructions are easy to follow by anyone.
AssaultCube has really accessible system requirements. The developer boasts that it will run on a Pentium III processor. It's hard to verify this claim because we haven't seen one of those CPUs in ages, but on a low end computer from our times it will run with over 100 FPS.Gameplay modes
Multiplayer first person shooters, for Linux especially, tend to be multiplayer only and lack a proper single player campaign. AssaultCube is no different, even if there is a "Single Player" entry in the main menu. This only means players can get accustomed with the maps (26 of them), playing against a lot of stupid bots. They have different difficulty settings, but on a medium level they move poorly and get stuck in corners on a constant basis.
In a real multiplayer session (with people), the action gets quite intense sometimes, but most of the time there is a complete chaos as maps are too small. On the other hand, there are always available servers online, so there is no shortage of competition.
There aren't too many gameplay modes or at least there aren't too many variations. Besides classics like Deathmatch si Team Deathmatch, there are several interesting multiplayer experience like One Shot One Kill and Team One Shot One Kill (players can only use snipers and knives), Capture the Flag and Last Swiss Standing (only grenades and Knives).
There is also a level editor and it's quite capable, giving the relative small complexity of AssaultCube. More interestingly, changes to a map can be shared easily among players.The Good
The game runs really well on any modern configuration and it's very small so it can be passed easily around the office. Unlike other multiplayer games and despite its age, it still has a large fan base that populates the servers.The Bad
The game looks plain and uninteresting. Its advertised small size is also one of the problems, because it means it's not a good looking game. We're not saying it should be great, just good. I think that a couple of hundred megabytes won't bother anyone and it could do wonders for the game.The Conclusion
AssaultCube has an interesting name, but this is where the interesting part stops. The game is plain and mostly unexciting. Players really need to be true fans in order to like AssaultCube, because I'm quite sure that anyone who tries this game today, for the very first time, has a really small chance of getting smitten.