It doesn't matter whether you like sims, first-person shooters, racers or strategy, our list of the best free PC games has you covered.
One of the most mind-blowingly impressive open source simulator programs, Flight Gear is a strong competitor to Microsoft's Flight Simulator. The graphics are fantastic - from realistic landscapes the world over to hundreds of aircraft, ranging from the very latest big airliners to fighter jets. Comes in Windows, Mac and Linux versions.
An old-school deathmatch first-person shooter with modern features, such as a rich, colourful and arcade-like atmosphere and a retro Sci-Fi feel. The makers say: "This game combines some of the best aspects of games such as Quake III and Unreal Tournament and wraps them up with a retro alien theme, while adding tons of original ideas."
Orbiter is a real-time 3D space flight simulator for the Windows PC. The concept is similar to traditional flight simulator software, except that you get up beyond the atmosphere, into space. Orbiter allows you to experience manned and unmanned space flight missions from the pilot's perspective.
Play nation-builder! FreeCol is a turn-based strategy game that's a clone of the celebrated classic Sid Meier's Colonization, and similar to the newer Civilization. The objective is to create an independent nation (well, an independent America, since all the action takes place on the American continent). Will you help your colonists create a great new nation or a banana republic?
VDrift is a cross-platform, open-source driving simulation that takes you around several tracks but with a heavy emphasis on drift racing, so the driving physics engine is pretty sophisticated. VDrift is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) v2. It is currently available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
If you've always wanted to try Backgammon, this is your chance. This game has serious AI built in, so it will be as good an opponent as you want to make it. Based on a self-improving neural network, GNU Backgammon (gnubg) is perfect for playing and analysing backgammon positions, games and matches. And it looks good too.
An open source clone of Guitar Hero created by Finnish developers Unreal Voodoo. You use the keyboard to play along with markers which appear on screen, completing and/or creating songs, and scoring points along the way.
Trackmania is an extremely popular PC racing game and Nations Forever is the free - but still formidable - version. It gives you many ways to test your car and yourself, on up to 65 different tracks and against other players online.
TORCS (which stands for The Open Racing Car Simulator) is a multi-platform car-racing simulation. It's many things: an ordinary car-racing game, an AI racing game and also a research platform. It runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. (By now, it must be becoming obvious that the best free games are simulators!)
Armored Brigade is a classic tactical wargame, focusing on realism and playability as you move your brigade around the battlefield.
How realistic can you make table tennis on a PC?? You'll be surprised. Table Tennis Pro gives you in-depth control of countless power and spin shots against up to 31 intelligent computer players, each with different serving, playing styles and difficulty levels.
The highlight of the movie Tron was the 3-dimensional computer landscape (which is what we imagine living in an Intel Sandy Bridge processor might be like). The idea is to zoom around on a light cycle but not bump into walls or trails left behind by the bikes.
D-Day is a 3D real-time strategy war-game, based on the Normandy D-Day landings in 1944. The graphics are meh, but that's not the point. It's about the strategy, an area in which the game has received critical acclaim.
GunZ is a Korean online third-person shooting game unusual in that it has elements of arcade fighting, involving exaggerated, gravity-defying action moves, and an anime look and feel.
A first-person shooter in which you don't kill anyone. Amazing! But if you've ever played Paintball in real life you know it's the closest thing you can experience to real combat - and the game is just as exciting (kind of).