Lots of options
Assault Cube, as the main site says so well, is a small shooter, built for Multiplayer fun. The game is based around the Cube engine, the poular freeware FPS, and a few fans decided to make the game more realistic. What came out was basically a free version of Counter-Strike. It's a very fun game to be sure, and while the game has a few minor flaws, only one hampers it from being a really fun shooter with great potential. (For a long while the game was called Action Cube. This is the same game.)
For a 19 MB game, this little game looks anything but. The game looks much prettier than the minimum specs would lead you to believe: it pretty much looks a little better than Counter-Strike in certain areas, but similar in feel. The Terrorist vs Squad paradigm plays well into the hands of the developers, who use it as a sort of parody in the write-up's of the game, and it looks and feels very true and realistic. The new release (0.93 as of writing) adds some shadowing and other moody effects that really bring out what the Cube engine can do: while Cube had awkward sprites, Assault can do full people with apomb. Darkness falls upon you gun as you explore areas of the maps, and all of the locals look nice. It's not amazing when you compare to to modern shooters...but for 19 MB, it is!
It's a fast game, though, and it's a frantic experience. It's a bit faster than most shooters like it, and that whole tactical veneer (which usually just means slow movement) is thrown out for fun, Cube-like fragging. It's not nearly as fast as a Quake game, or something along those Deathmatch lines, but it still stays to what works. If you took Alien Arena or Quake III and make it as bit more realism to it you'd be pretty close to what this game will bring you: guns have kick, and reloading takes a little while. The realism might irk some people, and even make some sick (the camera's movement sometimes can get really jerky), but it's still ridiculously fun for it: a no frills fragging zone.
Well, there's still that one huge problem that this game has, and that is a lack of maps. Considering that this game is Counter-Strike in nature and has editing software built into the game, the only maps worth playing on are the ones that come with the download, save one or two on Quadropolis (the hub of Cube Engine maps). This game comes with six, and that's not even factor in the point that all the maps are pretty similar. The game is great and has a lot of features, but that's not going to be helped by a lack of location. The Unreal Tournament 2004 demo had nine maps, and that's a demo, for goodness sakes!
But once you can get past that (which I hope happens in later versions) the game is just great: a small, well made FPS game that is just fun and filled with features. Of course, it doesn't stray from the formula, but it doesn't have to. The bots are well coded and will give any gamer a good experience single player, and the online componant works very well, especially for people with poor internet. It has voice chat, modes up the wazoo, and it's all built on a great foundation. I really hope, personally, that this game gets the maps it deserves, because, frankly, it needs and deserves it.
Other presentational notes: the sound. There is some good, abet odd sounding noises for all of the gunshots (they sound a bit hollow, but who's asking me) and there is no music. The last release had a theme song, but I'm glad they took it out: it played for a minute and stopped. It's better to keep the auditorial waves clean in case the player wants to listen to their own music, which just makes everyone happier and keeps files sizes down. What they have works out best in the end.
Also, while there are lots of options, they aren't very accessable. You want to change your resolution midgame? You have to exit the server and the game, go into your Assault Cube files, and change the command to your preferred dimentions, provided you know what the game supports. Most of the options have to be changed via the files in your folder, and while it's not too bad, it is annoying. For people who don't know much about editing commands and such, the task could prove to be more trouble than it's worth.
And yet, through all of this, the game still stands as a fun game. It's good to have on the side of your desktop, perhaps after finishing a game up with buddies you want to unwind. Perhaps after..even...finishing a review...ehem...this game gets a 3.7, only because a huge lack of maps. See you all later, I've got some, uh, business to take care of.
Review by: Iendicis
Safe for ages: 13+
Windows Vista, XP, ME, 2k, 98, Linux, Mac OS X
CPU - Intel Pentium III 500Mhz (or AMD equivalent)
Graphics - nVidia GeForce 256 (or ATI equivalent)