by: Brian Healy
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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With every passing day, it seems PC gaming is becoming a more expensive past-time. However, it is possible to get your hands on some real PC games for free.
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Ask any PC gamer about the cost of their hobby and it's likely they'll tell you that's it's an expensive business. Some games need monthly subscriptions or yearly fees, not to mention the need to use real cash in-game to the cost of upgrading PC hardware in order to play that new title, which itself, isn't going to come cheap. Its easy to see just where a gamers' hard earned cash goes!
However, for one reason or another, there is an emerging trend among PC games developers to give away versions of their games titles for free, perhaps to promote a soon-to-be-released sequel, or to give something back to the PC gamer. Whatever the reason, look hard enough and you'll find there are several free games on the World Wide Web that were once full retail releases, but are now available as complete ISO images which you can download and play.
You'll need to know how to play ISO games on your PC, but it isn't difficult - all you need to do is burn the .ISO image onto CD using burning software capable of handling .ISO image files, or alternatively download a virtual drive emulator.
So, what games are available that you can play for free? Here's a small selection of the many games that are downloadable and playable for free.
When it was first released, Command & Conquer was perhaps one of the biggest games of it's time. A real-time strategy (RTS) game, Command & Conquer has defined much of the control and play functions that are found in the genre today. The game was originally released by Westwood Games, who were later absorbed by Electronic Arts, and was released as a free game to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the original release.
Although now a couple of years old, F.E.A.R is perhaps of the best first-person shooters of recent times. Featuring more than the 'run-and-shoot' element of previous FPS games, F.E.A.R incorporated a rather scary story-line into the single player game, and to promote the expansion pack, Extraction Point, the game's publisher, Vivendi, began to offer F.E.A.R Combat as a free download. Combat is the complete multiplayer experience as featured on the retail release of F.E.A.R and incorporates all the latest updates, 10 play modes, 19 maps, 12 weapons and anti-cheating software support. It's even possible to download user-created content and players can compete online in multiplayer mayhem with owners of the retail release.
In the UK, F.E.A.R was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC, meaning it is not suitable for children. It is also necessary to register on the F.E.A.R website in order to play the game.
One of the most controversial PC games of all-time, but also one of the most popular games which has seen 3 sequels released to critical acclaim. Grand Theft Auto 4 is due for release any day now.
This game, like the rest of the GTA series is definitely NOT for children, due to their violent content. The series focuses around many different protagonists who attempt to progress through the ranks of the criminal underworld and involves shooting, stealing vehicles, committing crimes and being a thoroughly bad egg.
Please note, website registration is required to download and play these games.
Beginning life as an expansion pack for 2001's Return To Castle Wolfenstein game, this game was originally shelved by the developers, Activision. However, like F.E.A.R, Activision decided to release the multiplayer aspect of RTCW as a free download. Even by today's heavyweight first-person shooters, this game still holds its own as one of the top-10 multiplayer shooters on the internet.
First released in 2002, America's Army was never intentionally developed to be a commercial release, instead being intended to be a free game from the outset. This is due to the fact that the game has been seen as a recruitment tool for the US military, who have continued to fund the development of the game. It's a graphically-impressive first person shooter, although requires a fairly powerful PC to get the best from it.
This is just a small sample of the many commercial games that have been released and available as freeware. Remember, however, that these games and others released in the same vein are not designed to be redistributed and are for individual use only. The publishers may withdraw any of the games from being downloadable at any time, so it's best to act fast and grab them while you can!