Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich
We, the editing staff, frequently consider ourselves to be heroes, nay, superheroes. We literally pour water out of every hole when we try to make our deadlines at incredible speeds. Add to that, the obligatory flying lessons that follow each visit to our editor-in-chief’s office and you won’t be surprised when you see one of us diving of a building, thinking he’s superman.
After I got painfully reacquainted with the hardened floor, I barely managed to dodge another surprise aimed straight at my head. In my lap there now lay a package with the words ‘Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich’ written on it. It is yet to be determined whether the writing was in blood or just in red ink.
When I started the game, immediatly the bright and flashy colours came straight at me, blinding me instantly. For a moment the thought that this was an evil scheme carefully plotted by my editor-in-chief flashed through my mind, however I managed to shake off that image and carried on with somewhat sore eyes.
Nothing out of the ordinary to be found in the menu, so I quickly started a singleplayer campaign in the hope to add this game to my ‘finished reviews’-list as quickly as possible. The first half hour of play was a real torment for me. The rather oldfashioned graphics, bright colours and badly animated cut-scenes pop up on a frequent basis and the mood to play the game is fading drastically. In other words, it took me a while to get adapted to this game and the genius concept of it.
In the game you take control of a group of four superheroes that have to save the world from certain doom. At the start of each mission you get to choose which heroes you want to take with you. In between missions you can spend prestige points, which you earn by successfully completing tasks, on new heroes which you can get from the recruitment menu. In addition you can also train your guys so they get new or improved powers. This is done with experience points you gather during missions. Each hero features a small filmstrip in which you get to see how he attained his super powers.
The rather twisted storyline is also very nicely integrated and greatly adds to the comic-like atmosphere of the game. Because the plot contains a lot of twists I won’t go deeper into it, but be sure to expect a lot of intergalacticly modulated words! Add to that the obvious overacting that is so typical for the comic book empire (ed. – Gee willickers, doccie…) and you’ll know why this game tends to get rather funny from time to time.
The entire game is basically designed in this extravagant style, as I mentioned earlier. From the flashy colours and overacting to the static cut-scenes in which motion is suggested by slowly moving an immobile character across the screen. But also just about every graphical element and the sublime background music highly contribute to the comic book atmosphere. This will require some adjustments from some gamers who will really need to get used to the game at first.
Unfortunately, Irrational was not flawless in it’s creation of the game. Many a time my hero got stuck in the decor, which greatly reduced my available options. But that’s not all, occasionally he refused to pummel those bratty enemies. This was mostly caused by a crummy lanternpole behind which he got stuck or by a building rooftop he couldn’t reach. What does a civilized creature do in such a case? Correct… he tears the place down. With ease my superhero pulled the latern straight from the ground and started swatting the enemy with it. And even the annoying nazi couldn’t help but fall when I gave El Diablo the order to completely level the entire appartment block. Practically everything in this game can be destroyed or smashed to smithereens. In addition some heroes also have the ability to fly, which makes them invulnerable to melee-attacks.
Because of this broad scale in variety and because of the fast-paced action the game tends to get out of control from time to time. Not to worry, because the pause key easily fixes that problem. With a simple stroke of a key the game allows you to carefully plan the next action of each individual team member. On top of that, Irrational made it so that this game is accessible to every gamer by implementing a variety of difficulty settings.
Once you finished the rather short singleplayer campaign,(it took me about 8 hours to finish it) you can get to work in the rumbleroom or over the internet. In the rumbleroom you first get to pick a team of four heroes. After that you select up to eighteen enemies going from lowlife scum and nazi’s to the ultimate supervillain. Then you put them up against each other and try to improve your personal highscore by adding more and stronger enemies to the list.
This game has managed to surprise me in a very pleasant way. Although the game contains some minor bugs and the singleplayer campaign is quite short, it also brings you a few amazing hours of pure gameplay bliss. If you’ve grown tired of the classic fantasy RPG, then this game is undoubtedly an excellent choice, but also those other gamers out there shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to give this game a try!