Description official description
With robots now in control of the Earth, the last remaining humans are held in a Zoo. They are alongside key American artifacts, for the entertainment and curiosity of the robot overlords. A wave of killings is taking place, and you have 12 hours to work out who is responsible and why.
Free D.C! is primarily an adventure game, in which conversations with other characters provide most of the clues. The game is not puzzle-oriented in the way contemporaries such as Monkey Island and Legend of Kyrandia are, and is organized in a non-linear way. Graphics are made using Claymation figures, and the sound includes sampled speech.
Credits (DOS version)
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|Art and Animation|
|Original Music Composition|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 63% (based on 5 ratings)
Average score: 2.2 out of 5 (based on 10 ratings with 1 reviews)
The basic idea is actually pretty sound: You're a "specimen" in the "Human Zoo", where all the remaining humans reside are after a robot takeover in the future. You have to talk to several different people to find out who is killing the remaining specimens, and how to stop them.
Gameplay is non-linear, and you never encounter a puzzle to solve.
There are two main faults with the game:
The first is the teaming with Will Vinton's Claymation to create creatures for the game. Claymation may look cool for true animation, but most of the time in Free D.C! it's used for still shots, and it looks real cheezy.
The second problem is the use of "multimedia". After Mean Streets, everybody thought that they could do "multimedia" in a title to make it sell well. But when floppy disks are your transport medium, it just isn't possible. There are less than 30 snippets of digitized speech in the game, which hardly qualifies as multimedia; worst of all, the voice acting is not particularly good, especially the robots. Programmers, don't quit your day job--stop attempting to star in your own productions. (Just because it worked for Chris Jones doesn't mean it will work for you.)
There are other niggling problems that detract from the enjoyment of the game, like poor heap management (the game occaisionally forces you to save and then reload the game when the memory heap gets too fragmented) and sprite priorities getting swapped (see screenshots for an example).
Winning the award for most annoying aspect is the control mechanisms. There is no way (at least, not listed in the manual) to dismiss a text box with the keyboard, so you're forced to sit there until it goes away if you don't play the game with a mouse. And fighting robots is too simplistic to be fun--it's annoying. Confrontations using weapons should've been taken out of the game completely.
There is needless reliance on a true Sound Blaster (or 100% compatible) for speech output. This is because they decided to use the ADPCM "compression" built into the original Sound Blaster to compress the speech by a factor of 2:1. If they had done a cursory search for a generic ADPCM algorithm and used it, they could have supported the output of speech on many different sound cards--even the PC speaker!
Finally, the "inside jokes" about humanity start to get real old, real quick.
The Bottom Line
A disappointing finish to the Cinemaware legacy.
DOS · by Trixter (8946) · 1999
The game also came with a poster. It was a cartoon souvenir tourist map of the Human Zoo.
Here is the full text of a leaflet included in the Free D.C! box:
CINEPLAY INTERACTIVE - Putting the Characters First
Welcome to the incredible world of Cineplay Talking Computer Games. True multimedia computer games with characters who really seem alive because they talk to you.
The Cineplay line is a brand new genre of interactive movies from the Oscar-winning film studio that invented Claymation(R), the California Raisins and now, Harry the Subhuman, working together with the creators of the award-winning computer games Defender of the Crown, King of Chicago, Rocket Ranger and Centurion. The world-famous Claymation team at Will Vinton Productions has joined our talented game design team to bring you a series of cinematic adventures featuring live actors and Claymation characters who actually talk.
The Cineplay production of FREE D.C! includes recorded speech during your adventure in the Human Zoo with our Cinetalk(TM) speech production system, now available exclusively through the Sound Blaster(R) card. You get 3 megabytes of decompressed recorded speech included with FREE D.C!, and if you would like to hear your characters talk even more, we are making additional speech available with the FREE D.C! Speech Expansion Module.
Speech is part of the Cineplay formula for creating adult stories about interesting characters with real personalities. Another of our goals is removing the artificial barriers from computer games.
The copyrighted Dramaton adventure game system used in FREE D.C! is an open-ended environment. Don't look for objects, mazes or puzzles that block your path from one part of the game to another. All events and places are non-sequential and non-linear. You can always find a character to talk to, and they'll usually have something new to say. Be sure to visit each captive in the Human Zoo several times - Some won't trust you at first, but if you come back later they just might tell you their deepest, darkest secrets.
That's the Cineplay story. Our creative team is dedicated to bringing you the most technically advanced and sophisticated interactive adventures possible. With FREE D.C!, the FREE D.C! Speech Expansion Module and a Sound Blaster card, you will get a true multimedia experience, and a look into the future when new technologies allow us to include hundreds of megabytes of speech and digitized film footage in every game.
We're working to break new ground and we need your feedback. Tell us what you think, and if what we've done intrigues you, stay tuned for more!
Kellyn Beck, President, Cineplay Interactive
The same leaflet also has order forms for the FREE D.C! Speech Expansion Module and the FREE D.C! Cluebook. The Speech Expansion Module ("delight to the voices of all your favorite characters", "more than doubles the amount of speech in your FREE D.C! game") is priced at $19.95 (plus $2 shipping & handling). The Cluebook costs $9.95 (plus $2 s&h).
Free D.C! was the first project by some Cinemaware designers and programmers after Cinemaware officially folded. It did so poorly that only one other title was produced (Power Politics) by the new company before they disbanded.
Information also contributed by hydra9
Related Sites +
Free D.C! Walkthrough
We don't usually post walkthroughs at MobyGames, but this is probably the only place in the entire world you'll find it.
- MobyGames ID: 160
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Trixter.
Additional contributors: Patrick Bregger.
Game added June 27th, 1999. Last modified November 26th, 2023.