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Freeloader is a website where you can download free games. Apparently they went bust a while ago but the site is still there for now, so go while you can.
The premise of the website is simple but very effective, you can download full PC game for free. These are not shareware, demos or ten-year-old games. These are full price releases from a year or two ago. I'll go in to more detail later on, but examples of games include Jimmy White Cueball 2 and Grand Theft Auto 2.
The site is available in a number of different languages, and there are different versions of the site for different countries. Surprisingly I recently checked out the American site to see if there were any different games, only to find they are lagging months behind us in the games available for download. It makes a nice change from us in good old blighty being the ones to have to wait for things. Still, wherever you live there is nothing to stop you using the other countries sites, infact if you can read French you can check out that site and see if the games are different.
To use the site you have to register, create a username and a password, and simply add to the trillions you already have. When you first register you are given 500 credits, and while initially I thought all the good game would require thousands of points I was wrong, most games only cost around 100 points. If you run out and need some more there are things called credit pumps which give you more, and if you click on ads you also receive credits.
My next big worry was the size of the downloads, after all games like the ones on Freeloader come on CD's, so was it going to take hours to download? Well, the answer was both bad and good. Realising their problem Freeloader have split each game up in to a number of episodes, to reduce the pain of downloading.
The first episode of a game tends to be the largest, as it generally contains the game engine and system files, as well as the first level. Subsequent episodes tend to contain the additional levels, although this obviously varies massively between games.
For example, Grand Theft Auto comes in 9 parts, the first containing the game and the first level, then the rest adding one level each.
This is good, because it allows you to download one part of the game, and then while your playing through the first level you can download the next part of the game over the course of a few days.
Games vary in size massively, although as a general rule the majority of games have episodes of around 5-10Mb, although after the first episode they usually reduce in size. It does really vary from game to game though, although some games, including Grand Theft Auto 2 come in 15Mb episodes.
So what does all this mean for the average user with a 56K modem? Well, as long as you have a good connection you should be able to download even a 15Mb file in one hour. The freeloader servers are fast and as long as you have a good ISP you should be able to get transfer rates of 4k/s or greater. My record for one hour (using IC24 free access) is 18Mb, although this is assuming you don't do anything else online at the same time. Even if you pay for your net access this will only cost you 60p at the weekend, so isn't going to break the bank.
Still, the most annoying thing in the world is losing a massive download near the end, so a download manager is needed. These are small programs that basically allow you to resume downloads should you be disconnected from the Internet, or if your PC should crash. Obviously the best feature of such programs is that you can download a part of a file, and then get the rest later. Using this method I am currently downloading a whopping 150Mb mod for Unreal Tournament.
There are many download managers available, but my favourite has to be Getright. It has loads of features, but this isn't the place to go in to them. It can be used for free with advertising, although if you pay you can get rid of the ads. Whatever you choose, you can download it from
These games bring back the great fun from era's past, no more 70 page thick instruction manuals, just plain pick and play fun. The games include takes on classics like asteroids and space invaders, but also include mini golf games and arcade racing games.
Using a browser add on called Wild Tangent it is possible to play full 3D games in your browser. These games use you 3D card, and after playing the rally game I have to say it was quite good. It takes only a minute or so for the game to be downloaded and start, and once running you are free to disconnect from the Internet and play them till you heart is content. Unfortunately there is no way to save the games, so each time you want to play you have to go back to Freeloader.
These games are a good distraction, but they are offered by numerous web sites. What makes Freeloader great is the full game downloads. So lets take a look at the games on offer
Grand Theft Auto / Grand Theft Auto London ------------------------------------------
I group these two games together, because although released seperately they are basically the same game. GTA London was an add on pack for the original, and requires the original game to be played.
Although it’s getting on a bit now GTA was, and indeed still is a classic piece of gaming history. Few games have created the hype or media interest that GTA did, and since its release has had a similar status to Doom, in that according to the media it is the root of all evils in our world.
<br>It was released with an 18 certificate, but to be honest it seems a little tame compared to some recent releases. It was the criminal nature of the game that caused the hype, the ability to steal cars, commit hit and run attacks and mow down pedestrians with a machine gun.
Still underneath all this violence and hype lies a pretty decent game. It never manages to completely conceal the get from A to B style gameplay, but it does try and you never really get tired of it. The cities in which you play are large, and the range of cars wide.
It was heavily criticised on the graphics front when released, but I think this criticism was aimed mainly at the Playstation version. If you set the resolution to its highest the game still looks OK today, although whether the PC's of the day could do this I am unsure of.
The first game in based in 3 fictional US cities, although the similarities between these cities and real life ones are plain to see.
The London add on pack surprisingly takes place in London, in the 60's to be precise, complete with all the motors from that time.
A great pair of games, and when they are free who can complain!!
Grand Theft Auto 2 ------------------
This pretty similar to the first two, the gameplay is relatively unchanged, although there are a few subtle differences.
The game is set in the future, but in my opinion this detracts from the game, making it more removed from the real life situations of the original. This time the cities are controlled by 3 gangs, and unlike before you choose who you work for. This adds a new dimension to the game, allowing you to play them off against each other and double cross the gangs you work for.
The cars are all of outlandish futuristic design, and the weapons are suitably futuristic, this time shooting red balls as opposed to bullets.
The graphics are pretty similar,perhaps a bit crisper and detailed.
This game is good, especially as it’s free, but to be honest I prefer the original.
Jimmy White Snooker 2 ---------------------
The first game was a smash hit on the Amiga and PC, and this belated sequel continues where it left off. Gameplay is relatively unchanged, but the graphics have been improved somewhat
Instead of just Snooker you can also play pool, as well as a range of sub games including darts, draughts and the old arcade game Drop zone.
There are many opponents to play against, from the incompetent to the impossibility hard. One criticism, at higher levels the Snooker players are impossible to beat, they can literally pot anything from anywhere.
The game does a good job of recreating snooker and pool, and even today is regarded as one of the best in its genre. And as it’s free, whets stopping you getting it?
Hidden and Dangerous --------------------
Regarded as one of the best in its genre, this game combines the adventure of Tomb Raider with the stealth of Metal Gear Solid. It must be played to be believed. It is a big download, but well worth it.
Special Ops -----------
A similar style of game to Hidden and Dangerous, I'm afraid it just can't compete. Unless you have a Voodoo graphics card you have to play it in software mode, and it looks the original Doom game. The gameplay is poor, so steer well clear of this one.
Pro Pinball -----------
A competent pinball game, this isn't anything special but it isn't bad either.
Three Lions -----------
Getting on a bit now, but it was a good game at the time of release and is still very playable now.
Thrust, Twist and Turn ----------------------
Futuristic racing just like Wipeout, but without the fun. I don't like it, although you might well do.
Supercross Kings ----------------
Unlike the other games this one was never released as such, instead it is developed especially for Freeloader. If it were released it would be one of those straight to budget games that scores 10% in game magazines. It is worth the download though to see the comical manner in which the riders fall off the bike and bounce in their cardboard manner along the track!
Halcyon Sun -----------
This is worthy of note because it is the first of its type ever. It is a heavily story based 3D shoot 'em up (i.e. Wing Commander), but it is released in stages, with a new one every fortnight. The idea being to make it like a soap, leaving each episode in a cliff hanger situation and forcing you to wait for the next episode to find the outcome.
It could take off, or on the other hand it could flop!
There are also a number of other games available, including
Go Backgammon Creatures Magic and Mayhem Three Lions Beneath a Steel Sky
Not every thing in Freeloader is rosy though; the site has a few problems.
Firstly you had better patient to use this site, it is excruciatingly slow. For the last week or so they have been upgrading their servers, but now they have finished it seems the site is still very slow. I guess they are just victims of their own popularity. Luckily this only seems to apply to surfing the site, the downloads remain pretty fast.
Secondly the site is chock full of ads, banners, full screen windows, even mini movie ads. Now while you can understand they need to cover costs, but do we really need to have the same ad shoved in our face every time we click a button on the site?
The games are also devoid of any videos they may have normally contained, obviously these can run in to hundreds of megabytes so it wouldn't be a good idea to download them on a 56K modem. Grand Theft Auto has also lost its CD soundtrack, again because this would be around 500Mb. Again however, I would rather have reduced music and video and save myself £30.
The site also insists on asking you a mini questionnaire before downloading, which just slows the process down even more (and inevitably shows you more ads).