Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich
Description official descriptions
Freedom Force return in this sequel to 2002’s original superhero strategy game. Fighting Nuclear Winter’s menace in *snowy* Cuba, Freedom Force unwittingly allows the conquered Timemaster to fall into the wrong hands. The resulting time crisis twists reality around Freedom Force, plunging them into an alternate 1963 where the “original Axis of Evil” won WWII.
Now Freedom Force must set things straight. Traveling through time and taking on the Axis stretches the team to its limits, but the Golden Age was a time of heroes as well as villains. Blackjack, Tricolour, and the Sky King are just some of the new heroes available to combat the combined menace of Fortissimo, Blitzkrieg, and Red Sun. Plus a revamped character creation module makes it easier to send homemade heroes into the fray.
Retaining the original game's superhero squad-based strategy set-up, this sequel features cutting edge graphics, more characters, story-based multiplayer missions, and a Rumble Room where players can jump straight to the action.
Credits (Windows version)
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Average score: 82% (based on 30 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 30 ratings with 2 reviews)
Story: The storyline heavily uses the plotlines more attributable to the X-Men than Fantastic Four. It still fits the commix genre of plot with heavy melodrama mixed with plot twists. I really enjoyed getting to the cut scenes to hear more of the story, as I found each twist at least as interesting as the old X-Men or Spider-man stories.
Style: Like its predecessor, this game oozes the old comic style. The game reads like a bad soap opera that many old comics were. Each mission is interspersed with comic style montages, which lay out the story, while some of them are in-game shows. Over done voice acting adds to the flavor and bright colors of the in-game really feel stripped out of the comics. And to put it over the top, the WW2 missions are more muted with more straightforward adventures story telling, fitting in with the old Buck Rodgers adventure commix. To create such detailed copies of the real comics shows a lot of love and care was put into this game.
Characters: While the original characters are still interesting and have their parts to play, the new characters are wholly original and exciting. Tombstone is the man looking for revenge beyond the grave, and plays that way with the ability to possess enemies. Green Genie only wants to have fun and has strangely eclectic powers such as turning enemies into vases or lifting them up in the air. Again, Irrational creates personalities that work both in the story and in the gameplay, truly making them fun to learn about.
Gameplay: Nothing much changes from the previous game. You get to choose four heroes from your stable of heroes to go on missions ranging from kill all enemies to protect the town. Powers are used by right clicking on enemies, allies, or items and then selecting the power to use, as simple as it gets. Also, you can use default attacks selected from a menu below each hero’s icons. With a team of four, you get a tactical style of game play requiring you to creatively find ways to win the mission. It’s fun to try different characters throughout each mission, though you may not want to.
You see; the game is also an RPG. You get to upgrade your hero between missions, adding new powers or abilities, and improving those you already have. Going on missions gives you more experience to work with, so you may want to choose a few heroes to concentrate on.
All the items in the game world are destructible, and no game does this better than Freedom Force. You can pick up almost any item and use it as a weapon. Hitting buildings brings them crashing down, and in pieces which don’t seem to be standard animation, but based on where you hit them. Nothing is more fun than throwing a car or smashing an enemy with a light pole you ripped out of the ground.
Finally, there is the newly improved Rumble Room. Here, you can grab four heroes to run any made up mission on any map. And the missions are varied from Iron-man last as long as you can to four on four fights. This extends to the multi-player where one can run battle against enemies including fighting with a time limit, so its not over when your team is down.
Graphics: Again, the graphics fit the style of the game. All areas are fully 3-d rendered and are rich with detail. And the destructible environments all work smoothly, without much detectible error. Characters all look well done, keeping their style and not looking too stiff.
The best part of the sound is the music. Various tunes set a quirky, yet entertaining backdrop. The asian yet modern ethos of rising sun's song, the silly german Oompah music, and the far out killa-gorilla theme using jungle beats. All set the missions and are memorable.
Voicing is generally superb, for an over-the-top cheesy script that really works well. Each character plays the parts with gusto and enough witticisms to keep one from really questioning the exuberant acting.
Game sounds are wonderful as well, buildings crashes, cars smashed, lampposts bent, and other game object’s destruction is far more fun with the visceral sounds used. Unreal sounds feel in place, though standards seem the norm. Though, the sound effects for Tombstone and Green Genie get some real kudos as they are used well creating the ethos of their characters.
Mods: The modding tools were recently released, but mods should be coming soon. Already there are mods changing the heroes and updating gameplay. And there are plenty of character skins to use to create new heroes of your own.
Bugs: For a continuation of a previous game, there seem to be a lot of bugs. My own pet peeve is the 3-d sound for EAX, which cuts out completely after a few loads. I tried to find out what the problem was, as the same occurred in the previous game. It turns out the Miles sound engine has a bug in it, and that turned out to be the excuse for the problem. Seems like a bug in the first freedom force could be somehow fixed in part two, but never got addressed.
Another weird one is the Green Genie’s ability to change foes into random allies. There are goals in the game to destroy certain enemies before moving on to the next goal. So, killing the enemy while it is transformed won’t count as killing the enemy. And you will never get the next goal, effectively leaving you trapped in the level.
Gameplay: Much like in any game of this style of tactical battling, there are problems moving your teams around. Many times the characters will tend to go in a way you weren’t expecting. Most of the time they follow good pathing, as I was able to click on the opposite corner of a complex maze, and they found their way there without getting stuck. Just sometimes in the heat of battle they will get to close to dangerous enemies, taking more damage than wanted.
Also, the auto attack causes problems, as support characters will sometime go after enemies far too powerful.
Another issue I had was the decision to pull certain characters out of the game. I know this was part of the story, but it can be frustrating to develop a character, only to find you lose that character.
Graphics: The graphical improvements for this sequel were okay, but they also had problems. In the more colorful areas, with lots of light, the colors bled heavily and look like a bad tv image. This may be a result of trying the over popular bloom, a graphical ideas I wish would fade away, as I’ve never seen it used well.
Multiplayer: Sadly, Internet multi-player games are far and few in between on the GameSpy network. You may need to find a friend and battle over the LAN, or just play the computer in the Rumble Room.
The Bottom Line
The more things stay the same, the better they are! So many people want a game to revolutionize everything, but Irrational thought better. They tweaked what already existed, adding new powers and some graphical improvements. But by not re-making the wheel, they continued to create the intangible sense of style made in the previous game, and didn’t ruin an already well-made tactical rpg. And it pays off in this well crafted game lovingly depicting the comics.
I just don’t believe there is any other game that does the comics so well. It has the corny story, drama, deep characters, colorful environments, destructible environments… just everything that makes the comics so enduring. And I hope this game endures, for it truly is a personal favorite and the best way to experience being a comic super hero.
Windows · by Dwango (298) · 2005
Energy X, a strange substance from the depths of space, has found its way to Earth. Meant only to supercharge Earth’s most villainous characters, this miraculous material empowers the good and righteous as well, lifting them above normal humans and giving them the strength to protect the weak and defeat evil. Last issue we saw the birth of Freedom Force, proud defenders of Patriot City. Led by Minuteman, these guardians of justice brought an end to the machinations of the Time Master and the alien Lord Dominion. We find them now after a year has passed.
Patriot City, 1963. With the defeat of the Time Master and Manbot’s sad sacrifice, Freedom Force finds itself in a lull. The team’s roster has been reduced to the core members and the active members aren’t at the top of their game. Alchemiss is tormented by the loss of Manbot and stubbornly refuses to believe that the team is powerless to deliver him from his time prison. A much needed diversion takes the team to Cuba, where the sudden appearance of snow can only be explained by the reappearance of Nuclear Winter. Together with Red Oktober, Nuclear Winter attempts a desperate gambit to unleash nuclear annihilation, but his master plan causes a time crisis, creating a world where the Axis won World War II.
With the Freedom Fortress acting as a hub in the Third Reich World, Mentor finds a way to send members of Freedom Force back to the 1940s. Taking the fight to the original Axis of Evil: Fortissimo, Red Sun, and Blitzkrieg, the heroes of the Silver Age join the heroes of the Golden Age in an effort to save not only the world, but reality itself!
Like its 2002 predecessor, FFv3R is a self-described “tactical RPG.” Controlling up to four superheroes on a large (and mostly deformable) map, the player issues orders in real time with mouse clicks and a few keyboard commands—like hitting the spacebar to issue commands while paused. The player moves the superhero units around the map, engaging enemies, and completing primary and secondary objectives.
FFv3R retains the user-friendly interface of the original game. Left-clicking performs a default action. If you left-click on an enemy, the hero performs his or her default attack. Left-clicking on objects lets the character interact with them: flicking switches, picking up power-ups, or lifting something. Left-clicking on an empty space moves the character to that location. Right-clicking automatically pauses the game, bringing up an option screen and giving the player access to a wider array of attacks or more options with items.
So let’s say you have El Diablo, Minuteman, Alchemiss, and Tombstone in your party. It is night in Patriot City and evil is on the prowl. Suddenly the team finds itself beset by thugs wielding guns. El Diablo and Alchemiss take to the air. Minuteman wrenches a lamppost from the ground and Tombstone charges at the enemy opening fire with his pistols Wrath and Vengeance. As the thugs get closer, El Diablo torches one with a bolt of fire and Alchemiss uses magic to repel another one, flinging him against a nearby building. Minuteman begins smacking down a thug of his own with the lamppost, but misjudges his proximity to a nearby car. After pummeling the thug and the auto, the car explodes finishing off the bad guy and taking out a chunk of building.
But not all enemies will be this easy. Nazi doctors have manufactured human/gorilla hybrids and armed them with whips and guns. Eyes of the Reich float around targeting do-gooders with their death rays. Chaos Wraiths, drawn by the distortion of time, prey on those in their way. Centurions pledged to Fortissimo are ready with sword and shield. Luckily there are more heroes, too: Sky King, Blackjack, TriColour, and others, ready to give all for their countries.
While most missions involve clearing a map of all opponents (or at least taking out major enemy targets), FFv3R puts the pressure on the player with a handful of timed missions. In one notable sequence, players must override a nuclear missile’s control, which means finding the soldier with the code, beating him into submission, and then racing to the launch pad. Other mission sequences involve Freedom Forces defense of an area against overwhelming waves of enemy troops, a race through Nazi headquarters to free a captured teammate, and a race to prevent the Nazis from tossing Shakespeare’s First Folio into a pile of burning books.
After the mission, the RPG element kicks in. The player gets a report showing how much experience party members earned and whether or not they leveled up. Characters who have leveled up can spend character points on new abilities or strengthen existing ones. Also, Freedom Force earns prestige points by completing mission objectives and protecting innocents. These prestige points can be spent on new heroes, either premade ones that come with the game or player-created ones.
Comparing FFv3R to its predecessor, the graphics are much sharper. El Diablo’s flame effects look more like fire than just a reddish orange glow. Characters show more detail, especially Manbot who now has a glossy finish enhancing his armored appearance. Aside from characters, the landscapes have a stronger sense of cel-shading. This is especially noticeable with buildings. Sound has likewise been kicked up a few notches. Getting back to El Diablo’s flames, they now crackle in a realistic fashion.
The AI has also been strengthened. Team members show a higher level of self-preservation, engaging enemies who get close even without input from the player. The enemy AI also has more choices, arming some opponents with multiple weapons depending on their range and letting some units, like the Nazi General, empower their comrades. Traffic in the cities also seems smarter, with cars being more inclined to break for superheroes rather than mowing them down.
Aside from the main game, FFv3R offers a few more options. Players can create custom made characters, choosing from the game’s templates or importing ones of their own. The game also offers a multiplayer experience including a story-mode. Also, players can head straight to combat in the Rumble Room. Here players can pick one to four heroes and put them up against up to twenty-four villains (pulled from both games), or choose other modes like survival or timed missions.
Technically, FFv3R is a better game than the original, but fundamentally, I prefer the first game. Not to be a spoiler, but the Third Reich premise is more of a gimmick. It’s a good gimmick, but expect to jaunt back in time and skirmish with the Third Reich rather than face a series of epic battles ala early Captain America. Speaking of Captain America, you’d expect from the premise and the packaging that Minuteman would play a lead role, but the story focuses more on Alchemiss and others.
And here’s another meaningless quibble, the game seems more interested in re-covering issues from the last game, than in covering new ground. Not that this impacts the wonderful gameplay, but in terms of originality, the game suffers somewhat. Remember, the original Freedom Force won two awards for its debut at the 2001 E3. In the previous game, it seemed like every level offered something new and different: monster robots marching down Main St, raptors loose in Franklin Park, and The Great God Pan transforming women into nymphs. This time… well… everything seems familiar.
The Bottom Line
In 1972, Umberto Eco made an interesting observation in his essay “The Myth of Superman.” Noting that Superman had the means to end world hunger, significantly advance every human endeavor, and easily liberate the citizens of China from Mao’s oppression, Superman spent a lot of time going after common criminals. Eco wrote, “the only visible form that evil assumes [in the Superman stories] is an attempt on private property.”
So here’s what really struck me regarding FFv3R. The game begins in 1963 so later that year, Freedom Force will have to deal with the fact that even though they’ve saved the city from Time Master and the Dominion (plus the enemies in this game), they aren’t ready for Dealey Plaza. The team travels back to the 1940s to take on the Third Reich, but they fight supervillains, not the men behind them.
Of course the Holocaust is not mentioned and the Nazi Swastika is nowhere to be seen, but the game also makes uncomfortable concessions to Silver and Golden Age sensibilities. The Japanese supervillain, Red Sun, speaks with an accent more Charlie Chan than Hirohito and has an attack suggestive of the kamikaze. Jani Al-Hajani, an 18-year old Muslim girl living with her overbearing and powerful father escapes an arranged marriage when Energy X turns her into the Green Genie and she soars away on her flying carpet.
Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5398) · 2005
|Oct 2, 2008
1001 Video Games
Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Gamers who pre-ordered Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich from select retailers were able to download an exclusive character: a 1970s version of The Ant.
- 2005 – #8 PC Game of the Year
- 2011 - #2 Top Superhero PC Game (together with Freedom Force)
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Game added by Terrence Bosky.
Game added March 24, 2005. Last modified January 21, 2024.