Open Source Alternatives to Popular Games

June 18, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Gaming is becoming a more and more expensive pastime, with many new titles costing around $50 or even more. For console owners, this pretty much delivers a simple choice – either hack your device to allow homebrew titles and lose the benefit of network play, or else pray for an increase to the limit on your credit card.

For PC and Mac owners, however, there are the benefits of cheap re-releases further down the line, possibly bundled up with similar titles. While this isn’t ideal for everyone, it is certainly a popular alternative to splashing a half days wage on the latest gaming titles, but there is an alternative…

Thanks to the endeavours of hardcore games lovers, various open source “clones” have been developed over the years that realistically attempt (and in many ways succeed) to replicate the success of the original games on which they’re based. Code is written completely from scratch, new graphics are employed and these titles are pretty good imitations.

Open source alternatives to popular games

Typically developed for Linux users to be able to enjoy some great gaming, Windows and Mac owners can also benefit from open source clone games.

Top Gaming Clone Titles

In some cases there are multiple clones paying homage to a particular title – in other cases, there are none. However, many classic gaming types and titles are available, as you will see. Any of these titles can be found on the web and installed for free, resulting in 100% completely free gaming without breaching any copyright!

Quake Series – one of the greatest shoot-em-ups in gaming history, Quake clones come in the shape of OpenArena, a Quake III clone, while the original Quake I, II and III titles have had their source code released.

Civilization – C-Evo and FreeCiv are both open source alternatives to Sid Meier’s Civilization II, while Call to Power II is a project using the source code released by Activision; the original title was based on Civilization II.

Colonization – another Sid Meier title, FreeCol is the popular open source alternative for declaring freedom from European tyranny.

Doom – the game that set the FPS genre alight, FreeDoom is the open source alternative, and features all of the levels, weapons and even realistic blocky graphics!

Guitar Hero – this is an unusual choice as there was no Guitar Hero version released for Windows. As such, Frets on Fire and Frets on Fire X stand as open source alternatives, both compatible with the Guitar Hero/Rock Band guitar gamepads.

Elite – Vega Clone and Oolite are both great space trading and conquest options, bringing the original 8-bit pleasures of a seemingly infinite game to bear on modern computers.

Transport Tycoon Deluxe – Open TTD and Simutrans Transport Simulator are both great choices if your idea of computer heaven is building a successful and profitable transport network.

A list of these titles can be found at Wikipedia, where you will also find links to their original download pages.

Who says you have to spend, spend and spend for the best gaming experiences?

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