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[Photo of the Author]
by Harald Radke

About the author:

Harry studies computer science at the University of Technology in Aachen, Germany since 1994. He came to Linux in 1995. Since then he plays around with it, always surprised about what a great piece of software it is. He programs a little under X, likes graphics and of course playing games. Other hobbies are: playing board games, reading SciFi, playing guitar (bad!), cooking and practicing Ju-Jutsu.



Game Review - Barrel Patrol 3D



Barrel Patrol 3D is a cute little 3d game, based on Ripoff, a classical arcade game from the early 80's.



For all of you who have never played Ripoff (just like me): your mission is to protect barrels from being stolen by enemy tanks. You yourself also control a tank equipped with a gun. Basically you have to shoot down those tanks in order to avoid your barrels being taken away while not being hit by the enemy tanks which are also armed. In this article version 0.90 of Barrel Patrol 3D will be reviewed.
IMG: Standard View
Standard View, you are the nearest one


Getting Ready to Play

Barrel Patrol 3D is available for several platforms, including of course Linux. You can get it from the Fathom Entertainment Website (clicking at the screenshot thumbnail). There is no source code package, just an zipped tar-ball with a precompiled binary and the data file. The archive file has a size of approx. 1 MB, so no big deal to download it even with a slow connection.

After having saved it onto your harddisk you can extract it with tar -xzf <ARCHIVNAME>, a new directory containing the game files will be created. Simply change into this directory and enter ./barrel_patrol_3d. Besides the binary and the data file, there is a README with some nodes.

X window system
Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL)
a 3D graphics adapter (recommended)

Note: I had some problems to get the game running with SDL 1.2.0, basically it crashed. After upgrading to SDL 1.2.3. however it worked without a flaw


Playing the Game

The game takes place inside a circular arena. The game field is bounded by a forcefield which you as the player cannot pass. You control a futuristic tank, equipped with a gun to shoot down those marauding enemy tanks which try to take away your barrels and carry them outside the arena. The enemy in turn can also shoot at you (and other tanks), so it's not only hunting them down but also trying to avoid being hit. From time to time add-ons appear and can be collected to improve firepower. However these add-ons count for all vehicles, so enemy tanks are also able to get better weapons. All add-ons are functional till the tank gets torn into pieces. Additionally they are cumulative.

The game is is quite easy to play, you can accelerate your tank into the direction it currently heads to, slow down and turn around. The gun is mounted to fire always forward and there is no special support to point it at a target. Add-ons appear as different big letters and vanish after some time so be quick or they are gone, either after time has expired or, even worse, collected by the enemy.

The game consists of several levels, with a fixed number of barrels and enemies. After all enemies have been destroyed you proceed to the next level. After each level you get points for all barrels remaining inside the arena. From level to level the game becomes more difficult, the enemy aims better and remaining in one place from which you shoot at those tanks will surely result in being hit. One hit is enough to destroy an enemy tank. Your vehicle on the other hand is a little bit tougher and can take more damage. If you have been hit too often, your tank explodes. However, the only consequence of this is, that you lose all your add-ons and some kind of time penalty (a few seconds), in which you have to watch those other tanks moving around and maybe taking barrels away without you stopping them. There is no level restart or any "life" taken away every time your tank was shot into pieces. Collecting add-ons improves your firepower, for example your missiles fly faster, let them rebound off the forcefield or gives you homing missiles. Do not forget, same applies for the enemy! Besides the gameview itself, your actual scoring, the number of remaining barrels, a radar screen and a damage indicator are displayed.

The game ends if all of your barrels during one level have been stolen and taken outside the arena

IMG: Top View
Top View, like a 2D version



Pressing ESC during the game will bring up an options menu where you can modify graphics and sound issues as well as changing the game view between the standard view where you can see your tank, view from inside the tank or from the top. Additionally you can toggle between window and full screen mode and change tank controls. By default you move your tank with the arrow keys and fire with SPACE. Graphics options include displaying debris, shadows and radar as well as the level of detail smoke is displayed.

IMG: Options Menu
The Options Menu



Though today games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein are state of the art and Barrel Patrol 3D can't stand a comparison with them, graphics are really neat and maybe one of the best inside the Linux gaming scene. The bounding forcefield is animated with moving light reflections, tanks and barrels are nicely modeled and textured. The background showing a dark mountain scene creates a really nice surrealistic atmosphere (hey, stealing barrels with a futuristic tank from a forcefield bounded arena is a quite surrealistic setting, isn't it?). Barrels being beamed into the arena at the beginning of each level and being beamed up after the enemy took them outside the forcefield is as well animated as the appearance of add-ons and exploding vehicles. Each action and event is accompanied with particular sound effects. The game comes with sound effects only, there is no music played in the background. The framerate which is displayed in the upper right corner is quite high on an Athlon Thunderbird 1.4 Ghz and a GForce 2 MX. Really, it is quite high, so even on older machines with an 3d graphics accelerator which is not state of the art, this game should run fast and smooth enough to have a lot of fun playing it.



Barrel Patrol 3D really is a nice little arcade game. It takes you maybe a minute to get into gameplay and fun will last for hours if you like this kind of games. Graphics are great, I think they are as good as those in Descent 3, the only thing that let you maybe disagree is the fact that there is less to see compared to that legendary 3D shooter.
The game is still being developed (hey, it is a Linux game!), more features are planned. Nevertheless it is fully playable. There are two things I missed so far about Barrel Patrol 3D: some atmospheric music played in the background and some kind of multiplayer mode. That would for sure make Barrel Patrol 3D one of the best Linux games.

IMG: Tank View
Tank View, the first person shooter version




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2002-02-23, generated by lfparser version 2.26