Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich
I just wrapped up Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich, which can mean only one thing: the game was too short. I installed it on 01 August, a mere seven days ago and finished it without using cheats, walkthroughs, user forums, or any other assistance. To complete a game in a week is simply unheard of around here. I demand more!
The nice thing about the game is that I can go back and play it through again at a higher difficulty level and/or using different heroes for each of the mission. Before each mission, you assemble your team of four (usually) heroes. Sometimes, certain heroes cannot be selected for one reason or another, and the Freedom Force roster grows as the game progresses. I definitely favor some characters (I use Bullet just about any time he’s available for a mission, El DiabloEl Diablo was the inspiration for one of my City of Heroes characters, Conflagrante. The two have similar powers and ethnic backgrounds, though their origin stories are quite different. is another favorite and Man-Bot is a walking tank) and shy away from others (Mentor is a wimp in the early game, as is Law), so it’d be a challenge to run through the game with characters I don’t normally use.
Though I’ve only had it for a week, Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich managed to suck up hours of time at a sitting. The game combines an engaging story with well-developed (yet very familiar) characters and excellent play mechanics.
The story takes place in both the Silver (1956-1974) and Golden (1938-1954Dr. Frederick Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent had a hand in bringing the Golden Age of comics to a close. Wertham blamed comic books for pretty much everything that was wrong with young people in America. The guy would have had a field day with modern video games.) Ages of comic super heroes. In 1962, the heroes of Freedom Force grow restless after the defeat of the Time Master (in the original Freedom Force game). The reappearance of an old enemy sets in a motion a series of events that leads them to travel through time to 1942 in an attempt to stop Germany from winning World War II. The plot is a good blend of Silver and Golden Age storylines, complete with outlandish, stereotypical villains and over-dramatic heroes.
The characters in Freedom Force tend to be interesting and clever versions of one or more classic comic book heroes. Minute Man is a flag-waving Captain America type, complete with a Bucky Barnes-like sidekick named Liberty Lad, while Man-Bot is a cross between Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. Law and Order are very similar to Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger, and Bullet is the Flash with a southern drawl. Man-o-War is a fishy cross between Aquaman and Sean Connery and Mentor is a hybrid of DC’s Martian Manhunter and Marvel’s Professor X.
This might seem like mere copycatting, but Freedom Force is more an homage than it is a ripoff. The familiarity of the characters is part of how developer Irrational Games managed to capture the feel of classic comics. Everything about the game owes something to those classic comics, and even the load screen for each mission is presented as a comic book cover (price: 12 cents).
Gameplay is fairly straightforward: select a hero and then give him or her a command (run/fly to a location, attack a villain, activate a specific power). The action can get pretty hectic, and the ability to pause the game to issue orders to your heroes is absolutely critical; without it, the game would be pretty much unplayable. Pausing lets you jump from one hero to another, coordinating various aspects of combat to ensure that each super-powered crusader is doing his or her part in the fight for truth, justice, and … well, you know.
All in all, Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich is a worthy successor to one of my favorite PC games in recent memory. Everything that made the first game so enjoyable has been preserved and expanded upon. New heroes and villains (complete with new powers) have been added to the mix. The graphics have been updated, though not to such a degree that they lose that Silver Age feel, and the game features the same wonderful, cheesy voice acting as the first installment. My only complaint is that the story was far too short, though I’m hoping that the wide variety of heroes will give it a decent replay value.