Major game companies don't hesitate to charge an arm and a leg for new releases, with most launching around $60 these days. As much as you enjoy lining up outside the local GameStop at 3AM to embrace the latest shooter, parting with 60 big ones hurts a little inside. It doesn't help that many developers rub salt in the wound by lacing titles with DRM mechanisms -- but let's not go there.
Alternatively, there are tons of free games online, but very few are worth playing (yeah, we're looking at you Obama Alien Defense). What you may not be aware of however, is the wealth of older commercial titles freely available, just waiting to be discovered.
Dozens of old school favorites like Doom and GTA can be had at no cost. We've compiled a brief list of popular titles from yesteryear that you can download absolutely free of charge -- and that's something to appreciate in an age of hidden fees and fine print.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun - Tiberian Dawn was released in 1995 as the first installment of the C&C franchise and the Tiberian series. Red Alert followed in 1996 and is set in an alternate universe, following a separate storyline. Tiberian Sun launched in '99 picking up 30 years after Tiberian Dawn, and it was recently released as freeware to gain publicity for C&C 4: Tiberian Twilight, coming March 16.
Doom - Building off Wolfenstein 3D's popularity, Doom took the industry by storm. It's credited with popularizing the first person shooter genre, and stands today as one of the most important titles in gaming history, paving the way for countless other titles over the last 15-plus years. While not officially branded freeware, Doom's source code was made available under the GNU GPL in 1999, and many source ports exist.
Fallout - Fallout was initially released on DOS and Windows in 1997, but it made its way to GameTap for free in July 2008. Unfortunately, the service was sold in September 2008 and as of last March, GameTap stopped offering its "Free Pack." Instead, the base membership ("Classic Pack") is $4.95 a month. Fallout is still available elsewhere, such as FileRadar.
GTA & GTA 2 - Rockstar released optimized versions of the first two Grand Theft Auto titles free for all registrants to the Rockstar Games mailing list. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of this page and check your email for a download link. The games are packed in 328 and 353MB .zip files.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Daggerfall - First launched in 1994, Bethesda released a free downloadable version of TES: Arena as part of the series 10th anniversary. Similarly, last July, a free download of Daggerfall was made available to commemorate the franchise's 15th anniversary. Both titles can be found at ElderScrolls.com, and require DOS or a DOS emulator to play.
Other noteworthy freebies include F.E.A.R. Combat, Quake Live, Savage: The Battle for Newerth & Savage 2: A Tortured Soul, Battlefield Heroes and Wolfenstein Enemy Territory.
We realize there are probably tons of free classics missing from this tip. Are there any in particularly you have enjoyed lately? Check out this comprehensive list of commercial video games released as freeware.
While you're strolling down memory lane, you might also want to read about the 21 first person shooters you shouldn't have missed -- or looking forward, this year's most anticipated PC games.