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Cedega 4.2.1 Review - Part 4
LinuxLinks Review
By Kevin E. Glosser

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a MMORPG taking place in the well established Warcraft universe. Players create a character on one of two teams. They select a race, which limits what class they can play. Play revolves around completing quests for rewards, battling monsters and performing trade skills. People familiar with traditional role playing games will notice many similarities. What's different about this title, that makes it the best game in existence in my opinion, is the changes made to game-play and the overall attention to detail. Veterans of other MMORPG's will notice the lack of annoying shortcomings found in other games. It's as if Blizzard waved a magic wand and removed every undesirable characteristic and still managed to create a balanced world. This game is nothing short of revolutionary. Any game that follows will build on its decisions or fail.

I decided to install World of Warcraft without making any of the recommended changes listed in the Cedega documentation. We'll call this the "out of box" experiment.

My choice of which game to test first however, led to an early setback. The WOW installer disappeared after launch. Nothing appeared to happen. If an alternative game or a different hardware/software combination existed, it might have worked. The only thing that was disappointing about this initial failure was the lack of an error message being generated to the screen.

Having installed WOW in Windows, I was aware that the very first thing it does is force you to read the licensing agreement and agree to it. Installing the ActiveX control appeared to be necessary. I did so, via rpm. The executable which completes the ActiveX control installation was run. It contained a Microsoft licensing agreement.

The experiment was resumed. However, the next installation attempt also resulted in failure. Again, the installer vanished and nothing appeared to happen. This time, I decided to try once more, focusing on making an error message appear. I launched P2P from a gnome-terminal, hoping any error message would appear in the terminal window. It worked, the error message was even documented. There were a couple possible causes. Remember, I still had not done the recommended alterations. Continuing with the plan, I went on-line to see if I could find the quickest solution, instead of implementing the blanket recommendations provided by TransGaming.

Basically, I found out I needed to "follow the directions" or in other words, do what they had advised me in the first place. This concluded the "out of box" experiment. Although it was a failure, it only delayed my Cedega gaming experience.

Prelinking, Exec-Shield and Legacy VA layout seemed to be the culprits. Once the fixes were applied, everything worked!

The World of Warcraft installer performed identically to Windows except for when it concluded. It exited with an error message. It should be mentioned this is documented by TransGaming. It would be nice if this didn't happen, but it didn't bother me. It installed correctly. The real question is, would it run?

Upon launching the game, the full-screen cinematic started as it is supposed to on the initial execution of the program. Those of you who have seen this cinematic, know, it's one of the most beautifully made introductions ever included in a game. It's gorgeous and it ran flawlessly. This was good news, but no one buys a game purely for the opening cinematic.

After the cinematic finishes, the procedure is to log in and connect to the server your character resides on. Upon doing this, the game client noticed I was running version 1.0; a newer version was available. Blizzard's patch utility was launched automatically.

Some of you may be aware that Blizzard has included a "bit torrent" patch program that lessens the load on their servers by people upgrading the WOW client. This program had no issue running in Cedega. It worked as it does in Windows. Very quickly, WOW was installed and patched. I had only to choose the same configuration options used in Windows and I was ready. Now, it was time to play it!

I hit the connect button and what I saw was exactly what I was used to seeing! I was shocked. It looked identical. This is impossible, I thought. There has to be some difference. It can't be the same. So, I waited. I experimented. I tried doing everything you can in the game, to force all possible menus and effects to be rendered to the screen. Nothing, not one single thing looked different from in Windows!

"Okay, you have some skill.", I thought of TransGaming. However, I was not giving up. I was determined to find the flaw. There must be some undiscovered visual artifact. These guys can't be this good. And if not, I was sure the game would not perform at the same frame rate.

After hours upon hours of playing, I discovered a grand total of two differences between the Windows and Cedega version of WOW. They are so minor I hesitate to mention them. One would likely be noticeable to anyone, the other you need to have eagle eye sight to notice.

Footprints in the game tend to flicker if you reposition the in-game camera with your mouse. This, should be noticeable by most. Is it bad? No. Is it annoying? It didn't bother me at all. The other issue, I only noticed by visiting one unique location in the world. If you travel to the high level town in the Tanaris zone, which resides in the middle of a desert climate, you might notice the sand to look different. It's missing a shining effect that the sun causes. The dunes will display a glare effect off the sand if you view from the correct angle. This appeared to be some kind of specular highlighting effect not implemented. However, there are many places in the world where it appears specular highlighting works. Anyway, my guess is most people will never notice it. It is very difficult to recognize.

During my explorations of Azeroth, I was unable to discover a difference in the sound produced by Cedega as opposed to in Windows. The weight carried by this statement is multiplied by the incredible effort Blizzard put into sound for the game.

The game might look and sound the same, but it can't achieve the same performance, or can it? I turned on the in-game frame rate meter, which honestly I'm not sure produces accurate results when run in an alternate environment. It appears it may, however. The numbers produced were identical to those I get in Windows!

I stress tested the game to make sure. I went to the worst place possible, where the game would be forced to calculate and draw more polygons to the screen than any other place. If you play WOW (with an Alliance character), you know this location to be the auction house in Ironforge. Here, it's not uncommon to see over 100 players in the same location. It's one of the flaws of the game, that currently everyone on the same team goes to the same city in the same spot, to sell their items they collect while playing. This will be fixed eventually, Blizzard has promised. Currently, it's a huge test to any computer no matter the hardware available. My frame rates remained identical. It ranged from a low of twenty five to a high of ninety five. It was such an identical experience that the game stuttered in the one and only place it does in Windows. This being after you teleport in to the inn and go outside to walk to the auction house. When you get in range of it, the loading of all the player models causes a slight stutter on my computer.

Words don't express how impressed I was by my World of Warcraft experience. It is fully playable to say the least.

There are two additional comments I will make about WOW in Cedega. One, the in game screenshot button got overridden by GNOME 2.8. Any attempt I made to take a screenshot using WOW, resulted in GNOME taking the image. This kind of worked. In Windows this might have been disastrous. If you have ever played a full screen 3D accelerated game and then switched out of it while running it, you know what I mean. It's an ugly experience. In Linux, no problem. GNOME took the screenshot, let me name it, then when it was done, it went back to full screen mode as if nothing ever happened. The only downside was in the quality of the images. There was an artifact in almost every screenshot GNOME created. It seemed to catch the actual frame being drawn to the screen. This would produce a distorted line somewhere in the picture. Unfortunately, I don't think you can remap the key in game. GNOME allows for remapping of the screenshot key. Changing from print-screen solved this minor issue.

Lastly, in Cedega you have the option to run custom settings for each game. This is done by selecting the "configure" button in P2P when you have highlighted the game you wish to alter. There are many options, one of which is what operating system should W.I.N.E. emulate? Not knowing any better, I decided to try Windows XP. That seemed like the logical choice. Regrettably, it's not the wisest decision. It did work for me, until the most recent patch by Blizzard. I was then forced to go back to the default setting, which is Windows 98 mode. It worked fine, when I did. This is the recommended setting apparently. The XP mode apparently still needs some more work. No matter, the default works great and I recommend you use that setting for any game you run, unless you have specific reason not to.

Half-Life 2

Read ahead

1. Introduction
2. Test Environment
3. Installation
4. World of Warcraft
5. Half-Life 2
6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
7. BlitzIn
8. Conclusion
9. Known Issues
10. Fixes
11. Glossary

Last Updated Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 03:45 PM EST

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