Aaron Linde is busy hunting terrorists with Jack Bauer, so I'm taking over Bargain Bin Laden this week. This week's game, Freedom Fighters, is one that I've actually discussed with Mr. Linde at some length. This is one of those games that I got to play as a rental long ago, and thanks to Goozex, am finally getting my hands on a copy once again.
Freedom Fighters gives us an alternate history setting, where Russia takes over the U.S., in classic Cold War fearing fashion. This is all thanks to the fact that the Soviet Union dropped the atomic bomb on Berlin, before anyone else was able to use it. You play Christopher Stone, a plumber who escapes a raid by Russian soldiers on an apartment he's working in. From this point on, you help lead a resistance force against the Russians. Doesn't it just taste like 80's propaganda?
Freedom Fighters (GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC)
Original Release: October 1, 2003
Developed by: IO Interactive
Bargain Binned: $5-10 at Gamestop, 100 points on Goozex
Here's a little bit of the gameplay to get an idea as to what you'll be getting into with this game. As you can see, Freedom Fighters follows a third person action perspective, and you get to acquire and command a squad of freedom fighters.
As Chris, you can recruit other people who are sympathetic to your cause based on how popular you've become as the "Freedom Phantom," as referred to by the Russian news reports that pop up in between missions. Unlike most AI, these guys will actually take cover and will use it to their advantage when fighting against enemies. Of course, if you tell them to attack someone, they'll sometimes charge directly at the enemy and die -- but hey, it provides a great distraction for you running to the next covered spot!
That's a lot of what you'll be doing -- looking for cover. The game really emphasizes the fact that you're the little guy, as the Russians have outfitted the wrecked city with machine guns, outpost stations, and snipers on rooftops. You'll have to use your surroundings to whatever advantages they might offer in order to survive.
Each of the levels consists of several areas that you have to take back. You can take them out in any order, but each one supplies the other two with something special, like reinforcements, ammunition, or Hinds. God, I hate those Hinds. So, as you blow up the bridges or destroy the ammo depots, you help the Americans take back parts of Manhattan.
The multiplayer in the game is all about securing a flag and defending it for as long as possible. Whether you're playing as the Americans or the Russians, all the players can recruit minions to direct. There's a moderate amount of favor towards playing as the Americans, as they get both molotov cocktails and shotguns (which is a deadly combination in some places). It's an insane amount of fun when playing with three other friends in the same room.
The game really pays plenty of attention to detail, with realistic military tactics. Wikipedia goes into great detail about it, but the highlights are that the rebels use sewers as a mode of transportation, and have small outposts where they can refuel and rearm themselves. The base that you are in evolves as you take back more and more of the city. The fact that both enemies and allies use tactics to hide themselves from enemy fire, as well as dash from cover to cover, really gives the game an awesome feel.
While Freedom Fighters is no Rainbow Six in terms of squad-based combat, it does present simple enough mechanics so that most anyone can get into the genre, and possibly explore other, more advanced, titles. The game handles well and is really straightforward. It provides a good amount of challenge to the player without getting so frustrating that you want to throw your controller at the wall.
In 2004, a sequel for the game was announced, but IO Interactive has put it on the sidelines, as they're working on a game called Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. This is one of those interesting and unique IPs that I would love to see spun into more games, so be sure to show IO some love, and they'll be sure to make another one.