Just imagine: You and your brother are on your way to do your jobs. You have to check the plumbing of a famous lady (as a plumber of course). When you arrive, the apartment seems to be empty and just when your brother has his head in the sink, the Russians crash in! After they question your brother, in a not so friendly way, on the whereabouts of his “girlfriend”, he’s taken away. Meanwhile, you bravely hide in the room next door. After having made sure there are no more bad Russians, you run outside to call for your mother, when you bump into another not so friendly Russian! After a smash with your wrench, he falls to the ground with a smile on his face. Sounds like fun? Then Freedom Fighters may be your game.
So, the Russians have entered New York. They have also conquered the rest of the world, but that doesn’t seem to be as important as America, cause we only get some quick dates during the intro. America, once more, has to save the day! After the previous events, you join the resistance. This group of free people operate from the sewers (which they’ve decorated nicely) and terrorise the Russians using guerrilla techniques. However, things didn’t seem to go that well until you showed up. Finally someone to do our dirty work, they must have thought, cause from now on you’ll be the one who has to lead all the major attacks.
Freedom Fighters is the newest game from the makers of hitman. No sneaky shoot-em-up with a bald head, but an in-your-face action game with a boy whose hair only gets longer during the game. Still the game reminded me of hitman and this mainly because it uses the same engine, namely the “glacier” engine. The games’ look is not as super realistic as hitman (specially the models), which is not a bad thing! The models are beautifully designed and have some nice facial animations. They all have realistic physics, namely the ragdoll physics. Nothing is more fun than throwing a grenade into a group of Russians and then see them fly and smack their faces onto the pavement. But this is as far as interaction with the surrounding goes, the rest of the objects are all static, but this never turns into a really negative point.
The missions are situated all over New York. As you progress through the game, the city turns into a ruin, and it also starts to snow, which makes it a strange deserted landscape. During the first missions you’re on your own, but further on you can gather people to join your army. Up to 12 people can be commanded, but they wont join you just like that, you’ll have to be a charismatic figure! During the game you’ll need to build up your charisma, not by helping granny cross the street, but by healing wounded civilians (and sacrificing your precious medikits). Selfish people wont get far in this game (unless their really good at shooters ).
So you heal a few people, finish a few missions, and before you know you’ll have your own army. Personally I like to play on my own and have full control, but the more I used the group controls, the more I realised how simple but fun and effective they are. It became a pleasure to work in group and perform really tactical movements. And all hat with only four commands! Kudos to IO-interactive! Something that probably wasn’t meant by the developers is the fact that you never get close with your teammates. At the start of every level there are new recruits waiting for you, and when they get shot they will just lay there until you heal them. No one will comment on the fact that you leave someone behind because you’re out of medikits (its survival baby!). During big fire fights you sometimes just run around healing your troops. Lucally this is compensated by the great AI. It’s a beautiful sight to see your troops advance to the enemy using obstacles to hide behind and covering each other. Even the Russians are quite smart, when shot at they will hide and try to locate you.
In most of the missions you’ll just have to hoist an American flag at a building, blow up something or free some prisoners. What makes this game really fun is the connection between adjacent levels. Every level consists of one main target, but there are other smaller missions. For example: you’ll have to blow up a depot in a harbour level. The depot is heavily guarded by troops who get backup every so often, and there are even some choppers in the air. Now you can just throw yourself in and try to break through. This certainly isn’t impossible, but it might be better to go into a nearby level first. If you blow up a bridge there the troops will not receive backup anymore, or if you blow up a helipad, the choppers won’t be able to lift off. If you try to attack again, you’ll have a better chance at success. If you attacked the depot without blowing up the rest, and succeeded, you won’t be able to go back and play the submissions, which is a shame.
As mentioned before the resistance operates from the sewers. Therefore you enter every level through a manhole, and these are also the only places you can save. There are several scattered over the level (on tactical places). This means you can’t save in the middle of a fight, but in my opinion this isn’t necessary. It was an extra motivation and its not that frustrating, cause you never have to replay a big part.
The story is told using ingame cutscenes, where a cute Russian newsreader tells us that everything is alright and under control. Again the curves here are very…
… round ;). The game also contains a serious twist (story wise) somewhere in the mid of the game. So if you think you’re at the last mission, I can assure you, its not. No wait, I shouldn’t completely assure you, cause the game is really short! I’m talking 6 hours here people! This includes all submissions, and when played by a trained gamer of course. But that’s it, there’s nothing left if you finish the game. No multiplayer or extras, nothing… All you can do is select the levels separately that you want to play again, but if that going to add to the replay value? I seriously doubt it. Lucally these 6 hours are more then worth it! The action really drips of the screen and the game really sucks you in (problem is, you cant stop playing, which means the game will be finished even quicker :p )
Over to the audio then! The voices are good and fit the different characters. Even the Russian screams sound convincing. But the most beautiful is the music. This was performed by the Russian radio choir, which makes for some very nice pieces of music! A mix between classical and modern. It made me think back to the days of outcast, which is one of the last games that had such a unique and colourful soundtrack. Always fun is the fact that it’s dynamic, so it always fits, and adds a bit of colour to the fire fights.
To sum up: good graphics, great AI, beautiful music and voices and all of this in a short but powerful wrapper! If it had multiplayer, this would be my game of the year, but that’s only including in console versions :(. Now, because of its short playtime, it’s just a nice game. Isn’t it weird that a lot of new games have this problem? But let’s not moan about that, since all other shooters (except Max Payne 2) are postponed this “action hitman” couldn’t come at a better time. Everyone whose looking for an action game “pur sang” will have a lot of fun with this!