Saturday, January 12, 2013

Best Free LAN Games of 2012

Top 10 LAN Games of the Year

2012 was a fun year for gaming, and I think this year will be fun too. Hopefully you all enjoyed a LAN party or two with your friends and have plans for another to kick off 2013! 

Early last year, I made it so that you, the readers, could review and rate the multiplayer games listed here. What games were your favorites? Which games are the greatest? I've gathered up all the votes from last year, and the results are in. The following are the ten best free LAN games, based on their rating and popularity.

10. Farm Hands

Starting our list is Farm Hands, the 2D farming simulator. This game seems to polarize players--you either love it or hate it, and the game's rating has plenty of both Fives and Zeros. Missing is the intense action of most other LAN games, but it makes up for that with its charm, depth, and a large number of hidden collectibles. 

If you download this game expecting the action of Call of Duty, you'll be disappointed. This is a more relaxing game, where good management is key. It's also quite a bit of fun, with much to do and find.

So if you're willing to try a different type of LAN game, give Farm Hands a shot. It's also one of the few cooperative multiplayer games, if you're in the mood to help your friends instead of destroy them.

9. Counter-Strike 2D

This game has been very popular since appearing on the list in September, no doubt attracting players with its very famous name. It's a remake of the quintessential shooter, but with a top-down perspective. Players familiar with its namesake will find that the game has much in common, including game modes, guns, and sound effects. 

But of course, the new view makes gameplay itself quite different, and many fans of the original find it's not quite what they expected. However, it's still an excellent game in its own right. If you enjoy this one, also try Bloodmasters--it's another top-down shooter.

8.  Enemy Territory

Although it will be celebrating its tenth birthday this year, the appeal of this WWII FPS still has not worn off. With a variety of classes and missions, tight gameplay, and the ability to "level up" stats and abilities, it would seem this game was ahead of its time. It's been one of the top free FPS games for nearly a decade. However, it's not the best choice for small LAN parties--the team-based missions play better with good number of players on each side.

7. MegaGlest

Just as no LAN party is complete without an RTS, this list has one as well--MegaGlest. With many of the same gameplay elements as other RTS games (a variety of units, structures, and tech trees), MegaGlest is set apart by its greatly varied factions. There are six to choose from, and each is different from the rest. The learning curve isn't too steep, either. Try this game if you feel like commanding the battlefield.

6. Teeworlds

This sidescrolling shooter may feature cartoony graphics with cute Kirby-like characters, but it's not lackng any of the fast-paced action you'd expect from a shooter. Learn to use the grappling hook like a pro and you'll be leaving your opponents in the dust. Beat your enemies to the mythical katana and rack up the kills! The game is easy to learn and fun to play, earning it a spot on this list. If you're a fan, take a look at Soldat, another sidescrolling shooter.

5. America's Army

It's no surprise to see the popular shooter from the U.S. Army on this list. A game that strives for realism, this war combat FPS features a variety of roles, guns, and vehicles. On each map, there are missions to complete. If you enjoy realistic combat, this is the game for you.

4. Grand Theft Auto 2

The second of the popular series, now given away for free by Rockstar, has proven to be an excellent LAN game. Multiple players duke it out in a city, with all of the killing, driving, and thievery you'd expect. Play to kill each other, or try to cause the most destruction. The multiplayer component also features multiple maps and game modes, and up to six players can join in on the fun. And of course the single player is good, too.

3. Team Fortress 2

This team-based FPS by Valve went free-to-play in the summer of 2011. As expected, it is a high-quality multiplayer shooter. With nine different classes, collectible guns and other items, and multiple game modes, TF2 is a modern classic. The fast-paced gameplay is sure to provide endless hours of fun at any LAN party, and it's no wonder that it's one of the best free games.

2. Build And Shoot

Formerly known as Ace of Spades, this free shooter looks a lot like Minecraft--but don't let that fool you. Under the blocky graphics is an excellent WWI FPS experience that no other game can provide. Players can both create and destroy blocks, changing the battlefield to suit their needs as they dig trenches, crawl through secret tunnels, build walls, and erect sniper nests. And although there are only three guns to choose from, the game is well-balanced and has plenty of depth. In this unique FPS experience, you can be sneaky, strategic, or run in with guns blazing. And there are plenty of user-made maps available, in addition to the randomly-generated ones. This easy-to-pickup game is worth trying.

And here it is, folks--the number 1 LAN game of the year! 

1. Trackmania Nations Forever

To top our list is the wildly fun racing game, Trackmania. This game is fast-paced with tight controls and a great physics engine, but where it really shines is in its tracks. Certainly, Trackmania is aptly named. With plenty of tracks included, and thousands of user-made tracks available online, the game never gets old. Novices and veterans alike will be able to find great challenges in this racing game. The game also includes a built-in track editor, so you can create your own and challenge your friends. 

Honorable Mentions

These games didn't earn quite enough votes to make the list, but they were very close to making the cut and are definitely worth checking out.

Soldat -- An excellent sidescrolling shooter with plenty of action and many different game modes.
Bontago -- A unique strategy game centered around building towers from blocks.
Sauerbraten -- A fast-paced shooter that features a multiplayer map editor.

Til Next Year

So that's it for the top games of 2012. Will these games reign again in 2013? Or will this year see a new batch of games on the rise? Make sure to rate and review your favorites, and don't forget to take a look at all the other free games on the list! I'll also continue to add new games, so be sure to follow.

The List in Short

Which free LAN games do you think should've earned a spot on this list? Share with a comment.