You can purchase these real-time war strategy games for Playstation, Xbox or your computer – but did you know that the popular Warzone 2100 is open-source?
That’s right, as of 2004, Warzone 2100 was released under GNU Public License. You can download and install it on your PC right now – and enjoy hours of knee-biting, edge-of-your chair war-gaming for absolutely free.
Since the game was coded and distributed on a commercial level, you can expect high quality digital imagery, professional sound effects and music, and a gaming environment that is captivating and interesting to play. I burned through at least two full nights just testing the game in order to write this article. These are the chores that writers must suffer through.
Playing The Real-Time Strategy Game Warzone 2100
From the menu alone, I knew that I would love this game. I was an avid Command and Conquer fan for many years, and immediately I noticed the same look and feel of this game, albeit with slightly lower quality graphics and controls. On Warzone 2100, both single player and networked multiplayer game modes are available. The plot of the game is a post apocalyptic world that is rebuilding after nuclear destruction. You are a builder – but there are those out to destroy you.
In single-player mode, you start out with a single base and a few vehicles. Nothing is built yet, but you have available funds, and usually defensive vehicles to keep any initial wave of attackers at bay while you try to establish a base of operations. Whenever you select any object, the controls pop up just above your command navigation “star” with the nuclear symbol in the middle.
The first thing I noticed is that the learning curve isn’t very steep. Hover your mouse over any of the icons and it’ll tell you what it does. For example, here I’ve selected the “build” tool, and each icon represents a building that I can establish as part of my base.
The construction vehicles take care of new construction with an interesting focused blue “build” ray that either constructs a building from the ground up, or it’ll repair any buildings that have been damaged in an attack. You’ll notice at the bottom of the screen, in the center is a bar representing your funds, and on the left reads “CAM-1A” and the time – presenting the feel that you are observing and controlling your base from a surveillance satellite.
Once you have a few important structures built, you can start producing vehicles and exploring the land around you. At the beginning, you won’t be able to build much because you haven’t completed any research. For example, all I can build here is a construction truck or a machine gun Viper vehicle.
At the lower right side of the screen, you’ll notice that you have a radar display of the entire game area. Your forces and your base is represented as green areas or dots. Approaching enemy forces, or enemy bases you discover, show up as red areas or dots.
You can select one or multiple vehicles, and then place the mouse over the enemy you want them to all attack at once. You can also tell vehicles to defend a particular area, fire at a specific spot or retreat back to base for repairs. Keep a close eye on the status bar under the vehicle – when it turns red, you need to get it out of the fight.
Each battle is pretty cool – with decent explosions and sound effects for the machine guns and other weapons. However, I didn’t feel that this version could even come close to comparing with the commercial version of Command & Conquer or similar games. With that said, for a free real-time strategy war game, it’s fairly impressive.
Multiplayer mode is available when you enter the lobby. You can see what current games are available and how many there are. Multiplayer gameplay is nearly identical to single player, except instead of waging war against the computer, you’re battling it out against real people. If you really want to have fun, create two teams and fight a world war.
I’ll be honest, I’m very selective with free games that I choose. I can’t stand low-quality flash games, and I usually avoid most open-source games because the quality usually isn’t there. I can say that in the case of Warzone 2100, the quality is there – and if you enjoy strategy games like this, it’ll surely keep you up building and battling until three or four in the morning.
Have you ever played this or any other free war strategy game? What is your favorite? Share your insights in the comments section below.
Image credit: Stephen Davies