Staff Editorials

The Best in free PC games and Mods: November 2012
Posted: 29.11.2012 18:24 by Simonkey75 Comments: 3
With the global economy still down the toilet and Christmas fast approaching, youíre not alone if youíre feeling a bit strapped for cash this November, yet publishers choose this month to release a shedload of games that you canít afford.

Fortunately, Strategy Informer is here to guide you through the best games that wonít cost you a penny and mods that will give a whole new lease of life to the games you already own. Think of it as our way of saving you from blowing your Chrimbo present funds on the impending Steam sale. First up:

Oolite

As you may have heard, Frontier Developments have launched a Kickstarter to fund a new, spangly version of seminal space sim Elite. But if you donít want to pony up £20 for a game that you wonít be able to play until March 2014 (or £5000 if youíd like dinner with David Braben thrown in with that), thereís fortunately an entirely free way to get your interstellar trading kicks.

Oolite started life on Mac OS X back in 2004, before spreading across pretty much every operating system in the local quadrant, including Windows. It might not have all of Elite: Dangerousí promised multiplayer bells and whistles, but it certainly scratches that single-player Elite itch, featuring the originalís trademark open-ended gameplay and vast universe, plus of course the requisite crashing into space stations when youíre trying to bloody dock. On top of that, Oolite is easily modifiable, and a huge number
of expansion packs or OXPs have sprung up to cover pretty much every space-sim fanís desires.

The original Elite had a massive impact on me as a youth (he said giving his age away), and even now I like to occasionally boot up an emulator to play the freely distributed original ROMs, but for the nearest thing to a brand-spanking new Elite - at least till Dangerous arrives - Oolite is where itís at. You can get the full game download here on Strategy Informer.


Spaxe Hilk

From one sound-a-like game name to another. Anyone with a passing familiarity with Games Workshopís output will likely have fond memories of 1989ís Space Hulk board game, a turn-based affair that saw players go head to head as either Space Marine Terminators or Alien-esque Genestealers aboard the confines of a derelict space ship. With itís hidden play mechanics and rearrangeable maps, it was a stone-cold classic.

Itíll also cost you the best part of £200 to get a copy of the 2009 third edition, but thankfully your family wonít have to go without presents this year to get a taste of the gameís intense and atmospheric multiplayer due to the existence of Spaxe Hilk.

This free game accurately recreates the originalís tileset maps and the differing abilities of the two sides, and while thereís still a few features to be implemented, the 0.9 version you can download here will while away an afternoon quite nicely, even if you donít get to play with chunky plastic figures.


Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition Community Content Pack

And now from one game based on a Games Workshop board game to another (itís almost like I plan these segues...) - the Blood Bowl modding community have been busy beavering away bringing whole new additions and graphical tweaks to the hilariously violent fantasy version of American football. So much so that theyíve brought a bunch of them together under the Community Content Pack banner.

The 1.6 edition contains textures and skin packs for new and existing models, cleaner grid overlays, rib-tickling billboard adverts and makeovers for the likes of the Skaven and Dark Elf cheerleaders. Vitally, itís all completely compatible with online Blood Bowl multiplayer, so thereís no worries on that front, and no excuse not to go and grab the download here.

Company of Heroes: Eastern Front

Relic Entertainment may be taking their signature squad-based RTS action to the cold and bloody battlegrounds of Soviet Russia with next yearís Company of Heroes 2, but if you canít wait till then to put yourself into the fur-lined boots of the Red Army, look no further than the Eastern Front mod for the original Company of Heroes.

This is no minor mod, either - it manages to add a whole new Soviet faction to the game, including infantry squads, doctrine units and vehicles, all with their own set of upgrades, as well as a ton of new maps and a different play style.

Itís basically equivalent in scope to Relicís own expansions for the game, reflected in the slew of awards itís garnered over at ModDB. You can grab the latest 1.70 version here at Strategy Informer, and Company of Heroes itself can be picked up for under a fiver. The Eastern Front team arenít finished yet, either, with the addition of the Ostheer, a purpose designed Axis faction to combat the Soviets, on the way soon.


In other news

More Warhammmer 40K moddery, this time for Dawn of War: Battlefleet Gothic recreates the vast space battles of the dark and grimy future, with both Imperial Navy and Chaos Warfleets on offer. The 0.7 beta is the first public release of this mod, so go download Part 1 and Part 2 and take it for an intergalactic spin.

Remember I mentioned the Game of Thrones-based Clash of Kings mod for Mount & Blade: Warband last month? Now Medieval II: Total War is getting in on the George R.R. Martin action with the Game of Thrones Artmod for the Westeros Total War modification. To get that authentic GoT feel, download Part 1 and Part 2. If you have the Season 1 and 2 soundtracks you can use this fix to make them compatible with the mod for extra atmosphere.

Wargaming buffs do like their historical accuracy, and Hearts of Iron III players are no different, as The Historical Plausibility Project, designed with ďthe goal of helping the game reach its full potential as a half-historical/half-sandbox gameĒ, proves. The core mod is here, with the optional Major Nations, Minor Nations and Miscellaneous Graphics pack available as well.

Mental non-Doom 3 mod of the month

Sadly, the normally reliably bonkers Doom 3 modders have had a quiet month, but fortunately thereís still madness to be found in the ranks of the Serious Sam 3: BFE community. In all fairness, that gameís already off its trolley to begin with, but the Serious Fantasy Legends content pack from Pan and Finzy manages to take it that bit further.

Not content with prising the likes of DeviantART favourite Sephiroth, Dragon Ballís Goku and even Rayman (amongst a total of 41 new player models) into the game, thereís also 16 new versus maps and a whole heap of optional mods for replacing weapons, sounds and other features. It takes Serious Sam 3ís old-school shooter mentality off in a whole new fantasy direction, and you can grab the full download here. Just donít say that we didnít warn you.

So hopefully thereís something in that selection to ease the weight on your wallet this month. Iíll be back in December with the next round-up of the best that free PC games and mods have to offer. In the meantime, as always keep your eyes peeled on the Strategy Informer Downloads section for the latest files.
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Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Nov 30, 2012
herodotus
Thanks Simon. I thought "Space Hulk" was free now, or at least I think I downloaded it from here - I certainly played it. "Spaxe Hilk" certainly looks good - might check it out.
I'll also be looking into "DoW: Battlefleet Gothic" as it sounds epic. Downloading now in fact:)
Might pass on the "Elite" mod, though as I found the original hard to get to grips with at the time, and fairly plain. Besides, having too much fun with "Diaspora" (the "BSG" stand-alone mod for "FreeSpace 2") and beating off Cylons. Incredible Mod with brilliant visuals and gameplay.
By gameaddict20 (SI Newbie) on Dec 05, 2012
gameaddict20
If anyone wants some more free pc games, check out thefreegamesdb.com, its a community driven open database of free pc games and is currently at 500+ so plenty to keep you busy until the next installment of this free games series :)
By Thibby (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 06, 2012
Thibby
Ah, just decided to download Eastern Fronts again, awesome mod :D