If you have an Intel graphics chip, and are running a recent version of the drivers such as Mesa 7.9 or Mesa 7.10, you will probably experience a very high memory usage of the game, followed by abrupt crashes due to the system being out of memory.

This is the result of a problem inside the driver. Newer versions of the Linux kernel such as 2.6.38 will make the problem disappear, but if you are running an older kernel version than this you will need to apply the workaround described below.

Workaround: disable texture tiling. Install the tool "driconf", start it, and set "texture tiling" to "false".

This bug ticket contains more information.