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Freedom Force vs The Third Reich Review
Kristophe, 2005-04-27

I can still remember the days when Marvel Comics first introduced such super heroes/super heroines as the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, Iron Man, et al... just as I can now deeply regret not having kept those first comics safely stored away (just thinking about the price those early additions can bring nowadays genuinely brings a tear or two to my eyes). Be that as it may, I was somewhat skeptical when a little known (at least - little known to me at the time) game developer with an Australian studio by the name of Irrational Games first announced they would be creating a "super hero/super heroine" PC Role Playing Game, which they were entitling "Freedom Force". I bought it out of curiosity anyway - and absolutely loved it... so when Irrational Games announced they were going to develop a sequel, entitled "Freedom Force versus The Third Reich", I quickly and anxiously put in my pre-order. Needless to say, I was even more highly impressed with the sequel than I had been with the original... and that is saying a lot!

The Saga Unfolds...

Display full imageAfter a basic "game tutorial", the game opens up with the news that the super villains, Nuclear Winter and TimeMaster, have escaped from prison and are believed to be somewhere in Cuba. Your mission is to defeat the forces that Nuclear Winter has left there which, upon accomplishing this, you learn of further news re a certain La Roja's (aka Red Oktober) connection with all of the troubles thus far... so it is time to regroup, and head on out to take down all of the dastardly villains/villainess. You'll manage to take both Red Oktober and Nuclear Winter down... but then you'll find (as the pc operator, that is - the Freedom Force doesn't have a clue at this juncture in the game) that your CIA liaison is not exactly all he seems - and that TimeMaster is nowhere to be found (yet). It is only upon heading back to Patriot City in the Freedom Flyer that you encounter Third Reich aircraft, soldiers, etc... as you quickly find out that someone has maneuvered the time warp and managed to get some of that nasty Exergy-X back into the World War II era, whereupon the Axis nations have won the war and (at least for the present time), become the "Masters of Earth".

So it is that, in order to return Patriot City (and the rest of the world) back to "normal", Freedom Force finds itself compelled to go back in time to track down whoever was responsible for changing the world's history, and to set things right. Along the way, your various and chosen Freedom Force members will meet, and interact, with a good number of heretofore unknown "super heroes/super heroines" from the World War II period - as well as a goodly number of undreamed of Axis villains and such. From there, the story progresses with all of the loops, surprises, ironies, and campy humor that Irrational Games has managed - so successfully - to incorporate throughout both this sequel, and in the original game... more, I will not say at this time... you will just have to play the game for yourself, and find out!

The Mechanics of Time Travel, Game Play, Character Creation, and Other Such Things...

Display full imageFirst and foremost, those of you familiar with the original game will be happy to hear that the character creation (most especially the custom character creation) and the character development systems are pretty much identical in the sequel; albeit you have both a greater variety of the kinds of powers available in Freedom Force 2, and you will be playing with a mixture of returning super heroes and villains in addition to the large variety in new super heroes/heroines and villains/villainesses that are available in the sequel. Basically, this all means that you still need to accrue "character points/level up points" in order to level up and to train/upgrade your super powers; and you still need to accrue "prestige points" by which you can recruit additional super heroes to the Freedom Force roster.

Of an interesting note is the "Freedom Force Character Tool" that is a free download from (among others) the Irrational Games webpage (i.e. http://www.freedomfans.com/modforce/). It was with this particular tool that I created my own, rather sexy super heroine utilizing the "Action Girl" template... her super areas of expertise being in toughness, jumping, and kickboxing. In a further attempt to try and remain "politically correct" in this day and age *eg*; I pondered over her name - rejecting such chauvinist names as "Thunder Thighs" or "Lightning Legs" in favor of simply naming her "Taekwondo" - and I chose to create a female character for my own game not because I have a secret fetish for crossdressing, but because (quite simply), I enjoy the sight of a somewhat modestly dressed young lady (even if she is a platinum blonde) who is able to "kick [tail] and take names" with the best of them... and the animations were not all that hard to look at either.

Speaking of animations, and therefore of the game's graphics - they were totally superb for the setting and environment of the comic book genre in which Irrational has managed to reproduce so vividly... bright (and sometimes downright outrageous color costume and background schemes), somewhat comically exaggerated props and backgrounds, definite "campy" fighting animations - everything about the sequel (much like its predecessor) was done in such a manner as to make you - the PC player, feel like you had been suddenly transposed into the classic, comic book era to live our your wildest dreams.

Just a quick mention re the soundtrack, ambient (or not so ambient) gaming background, voice acting, etc., (we won't discuss Fortissimo's loud and devastating singing as a highlight) - very well done, and more than appropriate to the overall gaming environment... and most certainly - not exactly "hard on the ears".

Game controls were fairly easy to use - though I did have something of a problem properly launching my characters into flight and/or landing them at a most opportune time within a melee. Still, the control, and ease in changing fighting methods, etc., was well appreciated (again much like the original). Otherwise, all of the gaming controls one could wish for in a game of this nature were not only there. In the immortal words of Stan Lee - "Nuff Said."

Last (but not least) is the game's storyline (albeit somewhat covered near the beginning of this review)... and again I would have to allow for loud applause as, just as in the original, Irrational Games has managed (once again) to craft an outstanding storyline - complete with devious twists and surprises that not only drive the game, but stay true to the game's spirit... meaning that I can see there are some serious comic book gaming writers who love what they do that are a part of the Irrational Games developer team.

And When The Dust Clears...

Display full imageWhen the final words have to be spoken, I confess that I have a tendency to speak highly of any game to which I write my experiences... not all will (or even should) agree with my reviews - but then again, what is a game review but one individual's on-hand impressions of a particular game - to which those very same impressions are penned into the written word to be shared with others of a like interest... that is all a review of any kind should ever be, no matter in what media format it is presented.

Freedom Force versus The Third Reich - much like its predecessor - is pure magic! The Irrational Games team had the right formula the first time out - and they've proven that they can improve on such... something not easily done by most game developers. I really had an impossible time finding things to criticise about this game; probably fueled by the problem of both the game's pure "playing pleasure" for the PC gamer being easily "maxed out", and by the lack of any problematic gameplay software issues (something regrettably lacking in too many of the PC games nowadays). In-game controls were fairly easy to understand, and just as easy to use - even for one as "physically challenged" as I. The entire soundtrack (i.e. voice acting, ambient and fighting sounds, music, etc.) was more than adequate for this game - and never detracted from game play. Graphics deserve my U.S. Navy "eyeball liberty" award easily. In short -my only complaint- and it is a major one - is that the mod manager segment of Irrational's Freedom Force vs The Third Reich website needs to start working on some new game meshes and such to compliment the game editor.

The Verdict
Graphics (15%) 90%
Sound (15%) 85%
Control (25%) 85%
Fun (45%) 95%
Overall 90%

The ups and downs:
Excellent StorylineCharacter Controls
Character DevelopmentCharacter Recruitment
Graphics & Animations
Gaming Pleasure

Reviewer's System
Version: v1.0 Ret.
CPU: AMD XP 3200+
RAM: 2048MB
Graphics MSI NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950
Sound SB Audigy 2 ZS Platinum
OS: Win XP Pro

Average Reader Ratings: 9 (1 votes)
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