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In RecWar, players have a semi-customizable battle vehicle under their control; the colour of the vehicle, the type of vehicle, and a design chosen from a list are the available options. The game can be played singleplayer, splitscreen with a friend, or over a network (with splitscreen still available). The three game modes are Deathmatch, Team War, and Capture the Cow (the same as Capture the Flag, but with, as the name implies, a cow). In Deathmatch and Team War, the player or team must accumulate the previously set number of kills before the other players or team. All eight weapons are available at the beginning of each game and can have unlimited ammunition. However, mines (set down with a different input than the primary weapon) are limited in the number one can place, but another can be set down as soon as one is exploded. After time they explode by themselves if undisturbed. A final "weapon" is the self-destruct: a countdown from three initiates and a massive explosion takes nearby players into the afterlife.
The more players, the more fast-paced. Explosions and bullets keep the action moving as a game progresses. The percentage of armour can be customized before a game, and if set very low, can make a game very hectic or frenzied, as vehicles explode very easily. RecWar features momentum and varied controls for the different vehicles.
Player 1 can name himself "ImaWUSS; ALL" (without the quotes) for better speed, armor, and guns. Player can use "ImaWUSSgun", "ImaWUSSspeed" and "ImaWUSSarmor" too for better guns or speed or armor only.
All of the weapons in RecWar are obtained as soon as gameplay begins, there is no option of picking up new ones. The weapons are (in order):
- MiniGun — This weapon's rate of fire depends on which vehicle is chosen, however it is very fast, regardless. It is quite weak and inaccurate.
- Railgun — A moderately powerful weapon which shoots in a one shot burst in a straight line. Unlike the minigun, it hits its target immediately.
- Scatter Bomb — A very powerful weapon consisting of miniature exploding shells. However, the distance the bombs are fired is determined by the speed of the vehicle. This is the only weapon in the game that can be shot over a wall.
- Rapidfire Missile — A moderately powerful weapon that rapidly fires missiles, which quickly travel to their target in a straight line.
- Homing Missile — A powerful weapon which locks on to its target and attempts to follow until collision. However, these missiles travel slowly and have a low rate of fire. They can also be dodged if the target uses evasive maneuvers.
- Guided Missile — A slow moving missile that when fired is controlled with the left and right arrow keys to reach its designated target. The speed cannot be adjusted and the launcher of the missile is left vulnerable to enemy fire.
- BFG — A very powerful weapon which drains the health of the enemy when it comes near, even if it does not strike a target. After the order of fire is given it takes time to charge back to full before another shot can be released. This is a very destructive weapon that can take out more than one enemy in a single blast.
- Land Mines — A destructive charge that can be placed on the ground for enemies to foolishly drive over. They are most useful in the Capture the Cow mode.
All the weapons have their own use in each game mode, some are better than the others in different modes. Most often, it is the speed and the power, but it can also depend on the weapon's accuracy. Though the Plasma may be considered one of the most powerful weapons, it can be easily defeated by a faster moving projectile.
The three vehicles are by no means clones of each other. The main differences between these vehicles are their control. Other differences are speed and rate of fire.
- Tank — This is the default vehicle and the easiest to control. It is the slowest of the three in the game.
- Hummer — This vehicle is faster than the tank, but needs to be moving to change direction, thus making the hummer have less maneuverability.
- Hovercraft — This vehicle is the fastest one in the game, but its momentum carries it around corners very badly. Therefore, aiming can prove difficult.
RecWar maps are simple designs with designated spawn points and bases. The bases are used for Capture the Cow and in determining which spawn points are for a team.
A number of maps are included with the game, however, it is possible to create original maps with the RecWar level editor. It is also possible to create new terrain types and other map objects with an image editing program.
There is also a glitch in every map that as long as the tip of your barrel is inside the object you want to shoot through (even if its an object designed for stopping bullets) it will shoot through it. This works with every gun but the BFG, Railgun, and the two kinds of missiles.
Even though the game works fine under LAN, it is possible to play over the internet using Hamachi . Players can find opponents to play with in IRC channel #RecWar in QuakeNet network.