The last time we looked, there were 230,000,000 hits for "free games download" and 244,000,000 hits for "free games online." There is no way we can even begin to look at any meaningful number of these millions, let alone play and review whatever we might find of interest. Therefore, we have searched for games we happen to like and hope you will find some of them of interest.
There are many, many commercial versions of games we like out there, almost all of which offer free trials of one sort or another. Typically, the trial period is for one hour, one day or one game of play time. We didn't even download these because we wanted free games, not trial versions. We found many that offered unlimited play, but inserted annoying pop-up or floating banners at timed intervals which had to be clicked on to get rid of but could be permanently disabled for a fee. We immediately uninstalled all such versions.
There are a disappointingly large number of file-sharing sites where full versions of commercial games can be downloaded free, although many of these require a paid membership before you can steal the games. We say steal because that is what people are doing when they ignore copyrights and give away or take what they are not legally entitled to. The old argument that "I bought it and I can give it away" rings hollow before the law. With rare exception, every single one of these commercial games comes with a limited license you have to agree to before the game will install. If your word means nothing then you have no honor. We want nothing to do with you.
Finding a game that is free, challenging, without time or play constraints, without annoyances you have to pay to eliminate, and that isn't a pirated or unauthorized copy in violation of copyright laws is the challenge. But we have done it. However, we offer a sincere warning about free games.
A good many games are offered free as vehicles to slip spyware, key-loggers, trojans and other malware into your computer. Our computers are very well protected against these kinds of threats and we have caught quite a few nasties trying to sneak in with a free download. If your computer is not as well protected as ours, or if you do not keep your antivirus software updated, please pay a visit to our AntiVirus and AntiSpyware pages before you download free games. We want your computing experience to be fun and safe.
Finally, we believe the games we recommend here are safe. But you never know. What was safe last week could be infected or infested this week, so if you happen to download a game or program we recommend and it turns out to be infected with a virus, worm or trojan, or infested with adware or other malware, please let us know. There is a form to report this on our Contact Us page.
This is Mario Ferrari's simplified version of the classic world domination board game. This version has been around since 1999 and is programmed in Pascal, so the graphics are simple, the programming pauses in places, and it lacks the finesse we generally expect in today's games. Still, it is free and fairly true to the classic board game as far as play is concerned. You cannot see the dice roll, but that might actually be a blessing.
We do wish the game showed each opponent's moves in turn so you could see their strategies unfolding. Instead, the instant your turn is over the board shows the results of all opponents' moves. It's okay most of the time, but every once in awhile you can't really figure out how the board ended up the way it did. Still, the game is Risk and it's free.
Caution: Like many games, TurboRisk can be addictive.
Systems: Written for Windows 95, 98 and NT, but works fine on Windows 7
Risiko Risk, by Yura Mamyrin, Christian Weiske and Mike Chaten, is built upon the Gnu General Public License version 3.0 of 2007, Copyrighted by Free Software Foundation. If this is cited incorrectly, we trust someone will let us know it.
This is a much more developed game that TurboRisk, both artistically and programmatically. It is also a tougher game, with the computer players being quite capable of giving you a real challenge.
We liked many things about the game. First of all, it looked and felt more like Risk than did TurboRisk, but TurboRisk is perfect for when you just want to play a quick game (and usually win). Risiko Risk games take longer because you do see the dice roll (at least when it is your turn) and you watch every other player's every move. This allows you to see which countries are most contested by whom as the game develops and allows you to evaluate the various strategies being employed.
This game is also very customizable. You can tweak the rules somewhat, change the way cards are played, and change the board view to any one of six tabbed options. You can also play three variations of the game. A complaint we have is that the tab called "Card Ownership" does not do what we expected (and wish it would do), which is show us the number of cards each player has in their possession at any given time.
We found the default setting for playing the cards to be a bit annoying, as it reduces the game to one of shere luck rather than a game of master strategy. The cards are cashed in progressively. The first person to cash in their cards gets 4 armies, the second gets 6, the next gets 8 and so on until the sixth trade-in gets 15 armies. After that, the count increases by five. You can play very shrewdly, cash in your cards for 15 armies and conquer two continents, and the next two players cash in for 20 and 25 armies respectively and destroy your careful campaign. The only fair way to play the game is to check the box at the very beginning that assigns fixed vlues to the card sets. That way every trade is treated equally and no one wins (or loses) by mere serendipity. In fixed trades, 3 Infantry trade for 4 armies, 3 cavalry trade for 6, 3 artillery trade for 8, and 1 of each trade for 10. Wildcards can be used in any set.
Like all Gnu software, the source code is available and there are two GUIs -- a Java (applet) version and a Flash (full application) version. There is even a map editor.
We liked this game a lot, but you have to have the time required to play it. Most games are under an hour, but some are double that.
Systems: Works fine on Windows 7
Empire XP 5 (Risk Clone)
There is no doubt that Empire XP 5 is a Risk clone, but it is intentionally different. For one thing, you cannot place accrued armies and attack in the same move. You can place armies you earn by virtue of controlling a continent and you can place armies earmed by cashing in your cards, but the 3 or 4 or 5 armies you get at the beginning of your turn can either be placed on the board or forfeited. This certainly fills the beginning of each turn with anxiety -- you either claim your armies or attack and try to win a card -- but it slows down the game considerably.
We are told that the free version of Empire XP 5 is not fully enabled; you have to "Register" your game (meaning, you have to pay $9.95) to get everything. We had a lot of fun playing the free version and saw no need to spend money for more of the same, but your mileage may vary.
The board graphics are quite nice. The players' colors are not monochromatic, but blendings that were at first unusual but quickly grew on us.
There are other changes in the classic Risk rules besides the inability to place your armies and attack in the same turn. At the end of your turn you can move armies from from one country to an adjacent one more than once; in other words, you can move amies from Madagascar to South Africa and then move armies from India to China and from Ontario to Quebec, all in the same turn. The limitation is that you can only move a maximum of 7 per move per turn, which is a handicap if you really need to move 35 armies into the developing fray. Still, you get used to it.
One of the nonactivated features in the free version is the ability to save a game to resume later, and as slow as the game is you soon discover you have to simply abandon many games because of their length.
Empire XP 5 is challenging. The AI programming is quite well done. There are no easy vicoties in this one, but when you win you feel you have accomplished something.
Systems: Windows XP, Vista and 7, in 32- and 64-bit versions
Domination (Risk Clone)
For reasons we cannot fathom, the makers of Domination want to call it a new game. We will call it as we see it and say outright that Domination is an improved, renamed version of Risiko Risk by Yura Mamyrin. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and this applies to Risk clones as well.
There are things about the new default map we like, such as actually being able to read the names of the countries, but we do not care for the fold lines (although well executed). But this is merely aesthetics. What we do like is the play of the game. We played a 5-hour set of alternating between Risiko Risk and Domination and liked the latter better although we cannot actually say why. It just seemed like the play was cleaner, the card trades more to our liking (but, again, we cannot say why), and the whole just felt better and faster.
There are still the three variations of the game found in Risiko Risk, but now one can also choose a different rules set -- Italian rules. Italian rules assign different (but fixed) values to card sets -- 3 Infantry trade for 6 armies, 3 cavalry trade for 8, but 3 artillery only trade for 4 (we know not why). Also, with fixed value trades, 1 of each type card (may include a wildcard) earns 12 armies, but if two wildwards are used you only get 10. In Italian rules, wildcards can only be used to make same-unit sets.
Another option you can select at the beginning of the game allows the use of 3 dice to defend when 3 or more armies are defending against an equal or larger attacking force. This small change has huge consequences, because the defender wins all ties. An attacking force of 25 armies can easily lose to a defending force of just 15 armies. It's worth trying a few times, but we preferred the classic method of only allowing the defender to use 2 dice maximum.
As in Risiko Risk, there are some interesting maps available (our download came with 13 different ones) to add further variety to the game. We like the traditional Risk world view best (Risk.map), but also liked the Ameroki map for variety (Ameroki.map) because it requires an adjustment in strategy. We did not care for many of the other maps. Your mileage may vary.
All in all, we like Domination best among the Risk clones. We still like TurboRisk for a quickie game, but there are still many games left to evaluate.
Systems: Windows Vista and 7, and various Linux (Ubuntu 11.10, etc.)