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FreeCol Print E-mail
User Rating: / 16
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Sunday, 07 January 2007

We all enjoyed Sid Meier´s Colonization back in the day, a group of developers have teamed up to bring a free version of Colonization to the people, read our review to find out if it´s good.

FreeCol Screenshot 1

In 1994 Sid Meier released a game that operated in the shadows of Civilization and Civilization 2; Colonization became a success but was not as well received as its siblings. Free Colonization is an effort to make a free open source version of the old classic. The basic layout of the game is pretty much the same. You select a European nation (England, France, Spain and the Netherlands) and set off to found a colony in recently discovered lands. FreeCol as well as the original is set between 1494 and about 1800.

The goal of the game is to create a strong enough nation to declare independence from the motherland. As you declare independence your nation will enter a war with your European big brother.  Your establishment will also be boycotted so you will have to find alternative ways to trade merchandise (through other nations or by smuggling).

Before declaring independence there is a lot to be done though (the large part of the game). Much of Colonization as well as FreeCol is about collecting merchandise and gold in the colonies and ship it to Europe, but also to trade with the natives. A portion of the game is about actual war. Wars are often started when the natives grow restless or if fellow European nations feel threatened.  Free Colonization has the same units as the original game; soldiers, dragons, scouts and artillery. A big part of the Colonization are the ships and controlling the seas, there are Frigates and Privateers as well as different transport ships (Galleon, Merchantman and Caravel).

FreeCol is similar to Free Civilization in the way it operates and looks. The graphics are isometric (and better than the original Colonization) and the movement using the mouse and keyboard is about the same as any other Colonization or Civilization –game.
When we tested Free Colonization it wasn´t finished, and still in a BETA-phase. It lacked music, which I think is a big part of Sid Meier´s Colonization´s success. Graphically FreeCol is better, it has virtually the same artwork as the previous version, but it lacks portraits of the natives and other European nations.

On top of that FreeCol also lack the option of making automated trade routes. In the original game you could automate certain trade routes in the game, so that a ship each turn goes to a colony and loads something and unloads something else. In FreeCol you have to do it manually, which works when you have about three colonies. When your nation grows larger it´s a pain to do everything manually though.

The colonies themselves work in the same fashion as in Colonization. It´s a matter of training (using schools or universities) the right people for the right kind of job. If your colony is suitable for growing sugar you would have to train a sugar planter. If you want more bang for your buck you would also have to train a distiller who can make rum of the sugar.  FreeCol comes with a multiplayer mode, which was a new way for me to play Colonization, I liked it.

Overall Free Colonization is a good alternative to the original; it lacks some artwork and a soundtrack. Other than that it´s pretty close of being the Colonization for our modern society, well worth a try if you liked Sid Meier´s classic.

FreeCol Screenshot FreeCol Screenshot FreeCol Screenshot FreeCol Screenshot

Related: Sid Meier´s ColonizationFreeCiv, Sid Meier´s Civilization
Developer: The FreeCol Team
Website for Game:
Publisher: N/A
O/S: All platforms that run JAVA (Windows and Linux among others)
Where to get: Download Here
Cost of full game: Free, released under GNU public license
Year of Release: First version in 2002

Tested on:
Intel Core Duo 1.86 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 , Windows XP.

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