Steam launched - Get Linux Format reviews for free!


The official Linux Steam client has been released, and the company behind Steam is celebrating by offering some serious discounts on Linux titles. We thought we'd help you choose the best by plundering our own archives for reviews of games now available on Steam, and making them available to you for free!

So, without wasting any more time, here they are:

If anyone fancies writing a short review of the games we're missing (our your opinions on the games above), leave a comment and we'll edit them into a single post.

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I will review all of the games*


Frozen Synapse

It's like Counter Strike but top down and you get to give orders to your entire team. Alternatively it's like an antagonistic multiplayer Xcom. You give your little men (who can be anything from snipers through assault-rifle men to men with RPGs) orders like 'walk over here, wait 1.5 seconds, check behind you, then go through shit door and shoot everyone' (through a very simple interface), then you preview your orders and check everyone's doing the right thing. Then, if you like, you can guess what the opposition will do and give their team orders too and see how it all works out. Then when you're happy, you submit your turn. then when your opponent has moved and your turn comes back you weep softly as your plan goes to shit and all your men die.

It has single player but no one cares about that, it's really about the multiplayer match-ups. You can play any number of games simultaneously and asynchronously, since it's turn based, and flip between them at will or even just leave it and come back later.

Superb game.

Zen Bound

You wrap rope round things. Good game if you like wrapping rope round things in real life but are sick of being arrested. Makes more sense on touch-screen devices, really.


This is the hardest game I have ever played. It is a very abstract puzzle game based around the idea of creating machines which synthesise chemicals from other chemicals. This game is incredibly hard to describe. Just search for SpaceChem on youtube. Pretty sure the dude who made this is an alien.

Crusader Kings II

Incredibly deep grand strategy game wherein you take control of a single family, anywhere Europe, in 1066 and guide them to greatness or, more likely, failure. You can take control of anyone from the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to some provincial Earl. You wage war, make claims, form and break alliances, engage in intrigues and other such medieval pastimes. And sending your eldest son off to war in the hope that he dies a heroic death so his younger, smarter brother becomes your heir.

Very rich game. One of those where you decide to play for 10 minutes then wonder where the week went.

Solar 2

Cute little relaxing game where you play as an asteroid. You wander round the universe gathering mass by capturing things in your gravity until you grow into a planet. Then you gather more mass and become a star, then a bigger star, then a star system, then a black hole. Which isn't quite how the universe works but is cute and relaxing.


It's like a sliding piece puzzle game except, after tricking you into thinking it's like a sliding piece puzzle game, it starts doing stuff like being three dimensional and having things on one side connected to the other side. A bit like a Rubik's clock. My brain could not cope after level 3.


Those scenes in films like Wargames where missiles launching from subs and bases are rendered on old CRT monitors in vector graphics and the trajectories are plotted and the other side responds with a counter-attack and then you're waiting for all the missiles to land with a big white circle representing the explosion. This is that as a multiplayer game. Very fun when played with a suitable opponent, the build up and the posturing before the inevitable launch-frenzy is half the fun.


Unfortunate name. It's kinda like Pirates! but in space. Top-down 2d, you wander around doing missions and upgrading your ship and unlocking new sectors to which you can travel. Really nice idea that I'd love to see done well but for me, this isn't. It has its adherents though so there's probably something in there I'm missing.

A few quick ones:


Genre-defining linear shooter, still hasn't been bested. If you like linear shooters and haven't played Half-Life then I would be forced to question reality.

Team Fortress 2

The most popular class based first person shooter. You pick a class and you shoot the other team. Or heal your team. Also, it's free!


The most popular tactical multiplayer shooter. You do tactics and shoot the other team. Or plant the bomb. Or prevent the planting of the bomb.

Killing Floor

Cooperative zombie shooter. It's sort of like Left 4 Dead but trying to be a bit grittier and more 'realistic'. Poor zombies.


Far too scary for me.

*this door

Really should preview.


Thanks for the reviews Spang. I am intending buying a few of these games before the sale ends. Just trying to figure out which ones I already have through the Humble Bundles.

I have been looking at Killing Floor and Serious Sam. Both look nice but seem to be mostly shoot, kill, maim, disfigure, explode.


(verified), they're very similar games in that, yeah, they're both shoot, kill, maim, disfigure and are both best played in co-op (imo) but they're pretty much opposites in tone.

Serious Sam is very tongue in cheek and arcadey, with hordes and hordes of relatively weak enemies for you to mow down (and then the bosses).

Killing Floor takes itself a bit more seriously, wants you to think a bit strategically and wants its guns and controls to feel a bit more real-world, though not to the extent of something like ARMA 2.

I'm not really a fan of arena-type shooters (I love L4D2, can't wait 'til they're done porting that) and never got much into either game so I can't really recommend one. Many of my friends adore both though so either would be a good choice if you like that kind of thing, I think.


Cheers Spang...

I bought L4D2 thinking "well they tested Linux on this game so it will work" but unfortunately not. I hope I don't have to "re-buy" it when it comes out for Linux.

I don't think I'll bother with SS... maybe KF. I also am not much into these kinda shooters; I prefer puzzle types like Half Life 2. Speaking of which, is HL worth the money or is it going back too far (primitive graphics etc)?


Yeah, you'll definitely be able to play your L4D2 copy on Linux when it arrives. Anything with the 'steamplay' (which is all Valve games and seems to be everything ported to Linux so far) logo next to it is buy once, own on every platform.

(I don't think valve shout enough about this, it's really not self-evident what 'steamplay' means and the little logo doesn't link anywhere)

Half-Life is defffffffinitely worth getting if you've not played it. Yes the graphics are atrocious now but when it's a good game I find it's kinda like watching an old B&W film - 10 minutes in and you don't even notice any more.

I'm not one for nostalgically clinging to old games, modern games are generally better, particularly in terms of UI and controls. But Half-Life (and Deus Ex) just haven't been touched in terms of what they do. Half-Life was the first notable game to say: we're going to tell a story without ever breaking player control, no cutscenes, no changes of viewpoint. You see everything through Gordon's eyes and you're never told to sit still and listen to the story, you act the story out yourself. And, despite its linearity, because you have such a simple goal (which both you and the character you're playing naturally share, there's no disjoint here) - get to the surface - you *feel* like you're making decisions.

And while the graphics are a bit hilariously old, the controls and UI (what there is of one) are still perfect. In fact the movement in that engine still feels crisper and snappier than stuff in the Source engine.

Definitely worth the £1.49 they're asking :D

And I'm aware that I risk turning this into an essay, but, since I've mentioned it, Deus Ex is simply still the best game ever made. It's not available on Linux and I doubt it ever will be since the developer no longer exists. But being a gazillion years old it runs flawlessly in Wine.

Again, it's just not been equalled let alone surpassed. It's just incredible in terms of involving you in a world and its narrative and making you feel like you *are* the character you're playing. And in terms of the freedom it gives you within that world in terms of where to go, what to do, how to do it and so on. And it has the balls to branch invisibly - sometimes you don't even know you're making a choice, you're just doing what seems appropriate. You'll only find out you made a choice (and they can have quite major repercussions) when you talk to someone who did it differently. Modern games tend to make a song and dance about the choice they're giving you - they want you to *know* you're choosing as if their work is otherwise going unappreciated. Deus Ex just did it quietly, which is far more powerful. It's the only game I can think of which has managed to meld a game that feels like a sandbox with the sort of narrative that just sucks you in and consumes you utterly.

Ok, I'll try to stop gushing. And I will say: The first hour or so is absolutely awful. Confusing, a bit clunky feeling and you can't shoot straight. Stick with it though, it gets better. Get to the second or third mission and there's no looking back.

But yeah, if you like first person shooters, you like being *really* invested in a world and you like games that make you think and consider and judge then you'll love Deus Ex.

I'm going to have to replay it now. Again.


And if you fancy adding me on Steam:


Maybe we'll have a game of L4D2 sometime.

Sounds good!

Thanks for clarifying that Steamplay thing. I never really knew what that meant either. I'll definitely get HL after reading what you wrote. I played HL2 to the end and loved every bit of it, however I have never played Deus Ex. I'll look out for it on ebay etc.

I never really was much of a gamer on PCs with the exception of Red Orchestra Mod for UT2004 and Red Orchestra Ostfront (in the current Steam sale).

I'll add you later this evening and we'll get a game for sure.

Zen Bound

I'd never heard of Zen Bound, but it's about time someone made a game like that - it might finally satisfy the deep-seated human desire for a rock to wind a piece of string around.


Nice vid from PCGamer about Crusader Kings II if anyone's undecided about getting it. Though the sales over now o'course.

youtube: /watch?v=Gke4pJ5OtIQ


Serious Sam 3 is the third, and most recent installment in the Serious Sam series, and the most difficult game in the series thus far.
Any fan of the "oldschool" shooter genre, games like doom 1&2, Painkiller, Duke Nukem 3D, and most similarly Serious Sam 1, will be able to drop right into this game without a hitch. Your player character, "Serious" Sam Stone, runs at ridiculous speeds, carrying loads of weapons, half of which would make the Terminator cringe in fear. And what else would one do with this over-the-top arsenal besides mow down waves upon waves of baddies ranging from generic "bad guy soldier" to what appear to be organic AT-ST walkers while you make your way through Cairo causing wanton destruction? In short, an HD old school shooter to the bones, from health packs enemies spawning in front of your very eyes. Definitely fun, and even more so if you can round up a few friends for co-op mode.
A quick note on the actual linux implementation, as of the time of this writing it is still in beta, and it does show. Most of the actual bugs seem to have been worked out, however it is currently very poorly optimized not just for linux but for OpenGL in general. Reports of 30-60 fps between implementations are not uncommon, so make sure when running SS3 to use the most up-to-date video drivers and sign up for the steam beta. I just barely managed to squeeze out playable (25-35 fps) on lowest graphical quality from my 555M GTX, as opposed to the similar frame-rates on medium quality on the DirectX implementation.

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