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Freedom Fighters Review

Freedom Fighters takes place in an alternate reality Cold War, where the Soviet Union ended WWII by dropping an atomic bomb on Berlin, and had the balance of power much more in their favor than the real world. All of Europe quickly fell behind the iron curtain, and slowly but surely over the decades they took over the rest of the world. In 2003, they launched their invasion of the United States, presumably the last Democracy on Earth.

The game starts with two New York plumbers named Mario and Luigi Chris and Troy Stone going to the apartment of anti Soviet activist Isabella Angelina, right as the invasion starts and her apartment is raided. Troy is kidnapped, and Chris joins the American resistance. After freeing Troy and Isabella in the first and second mission, the plot is relatively straightforward. You're given a set of missions to do, you finish them, you do the next, repeat a couple times, predictable plot twist, two more sets of missions and the game is over.


You may have noticed I referred to 'sets' of missions, as opposed to an individual level. Something unique to Freedom Fighters, as far as I know, is that you're given several levels to do in any order that effect each other. For instance, one situation from early in the game is that there is one level with a bridge that the Soviets are using for their trucks to transport troops around which act as a way for enemies to respawn (it also makes roads quite a bit more hazardous), another level with a helipad deploying attack helicopters, and another with an ammunition depot and several prisoners you should free. 

Should have destroyed the helipad.

Destroying the bridge will stop their trucks from driving about the levels, keeping the number of enemies finite, destroying the helipad will ground the Russian chopper fleet, and freeing the prisoners causes you to gain a large amount of Charisma (what is Charisma? I'll get to that later). On each level those objectives are present, but your primary goal is to raise the Stars and Stripes over the flagpole on the level, resulting in victory.

To destroy the bridge and helipad you'll need C4, which you don't have any of. You'll need to raid the ammunition depot for it. But on that level, there's a helicopter out above the flagpole that will rip your squad apart if you approach it. Before you can proceed, you'll need to go to the other level and destroy the helipad. At this point, the other two levels are now without air support (levels with helipads don't have their own helicopters), allowing you to destroy the bridge and stop them from reinforcing their troops on any of the three levels. 

You move around the levels by using manholes located around the area, which also function as quick save points. Aside from two missions that don't have any manholes, the number and distance apart is perfect - there are enough to keep you from having to replay large sections of the game, while being few enough to keep the game fairly challenging. Capturing the area via flag raising also offers whatever benefit destroying a given target had (keeping the choppers grounded, stopping the trucks, etc.), but you don't get the Charisma that you would have from destroying it.


You have a "Charisma Bar" in the top right of the screen, which increases any time you help a wounded civilian, free a prisoner, destroy a Soviet installation, or raise the flag over a level. When it fills up, the limit of Freedom Fighters you're allowed to lead into battle increases by one, with a maximum of 12. This gives you more than enough incentive to tackle secondary objectives without forcing you to.

Another thing that is unique to Freedom Fighters is the squad command system. It's unique in that, believe it or not, it's actually intuitive. To order someone to attack, you push Y. To order someone to defend something, you aim at it and push X. To order someone to follow you, you push A. To order all of your soldiers to do one of those things, you hold the button down.



Of course, AI is a make or break factor for a squad based shooter, what decides if it's a good game or a drone babysitting simulator. Freedom Fighters' AI is quite competent, especially for a 6th generation game. Your troops will follow when you tell them to follow, acting something like bodyguards and balancing combat with following you well. If you order them to defend, they'll stay in cover and shoot any enemies they see, and ordering them to attack will cause them to rush the enemy more recklessly. They'll also lay down suppressing fire, avoid wandering in the open, always take the most efficient route to wherever they need to go, man machine guns, etc. The enemy AI is equally competent, they'll take cover, flank you, lay down suppressing fire, and advance on your position while moving from cover to cover.

The developers had the great idea to make your allies quite durable, moreso than you actually, shunning the more popular "your soldiers armor is made of paper mache" approach. It's low enough so that they'll still fall quickly to heavy machine gun fire or concentrated gun fire, but high enough to make the occasional AI problem unnoticeable. 

The level design is great. At first glance it appears linear, but on closer inspection you'll see a myriad of back alleys and buildings that can be entered, allowing you to flank or even bypass Soviet defenses, gain high vantage points, and reach wherever you need to go. There is almost always at least two ways to take on any situation, and the level design is quite varied as well. There are open battlefields littered with cover, rooms with multiple floors allowing you to attack enemies from multiple routes, close quarters fighting in a news studio of all places, shoot outs across open fields an empty streets (alternatively, streets filled with cars that explode and Russians. All you need to add is a grenade), and plenty more.



The guns are all your standard shooter fare, with your assault rifle, sub machine gun, shotgun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and light machine gun. Throughout most of the campaign you'll usually be stuck with your trusty ol' AK-47 or shotgun on account of not being able to find enough ammunition for anything else, and Soviet heavy machine gun emplacements are common.

The graphics haven't aged very well, but you can say that of any 'realistic looking' game. More importantly, considering this game is nearly a decade old, is the framerate. It runs at a stable framerate of I have no idea, with framerate drops occurring very rarely and momentarily, if at all.

The game only has one major problem - it's too short. It's only about 5-7 hours long, and there isn't any reason to replay it. Despite that, I've beaten it 8 times because, as I've said, it's a great game. The only game I've replayed more times is Pikmin. There are 4 difficulties, but it seems like they originally wanted to have 5 and only put in (from easiest to hardest) 1, 2, 3, and 5. While the second highest provides a good challenge, it's a bit too easy for being the second highest. The highest is difficult to the point where the game stops being fun, where even if your soldiers sit in cover at a high vantage point they'll still get killed by enemies that they have flanked.



The multiplayer mode, assuming you have someone to play with split screen, largely makes up for the game being so short. It can be played with 2 teams, anywhere from 2-4 players. While it too is lacking in content, with only one mode, three maps, and the only option being how long you need to hold the flag in intervals of 3, from 3 minutes to 30 minutes, it's a blast. It's a King of the Hill mode where you need to hold the flag in the center of the map for X amount of time. There are four HMG armed bunkers around the map where soldiers spawn upon capture. They can be ordered to follow you, and one quickly respawns in it's place when a soldier dies or is ordered to follow. It's a combination of tactics and third person shooting, and although the selection of maps is small, they're highly varied. 

The Greenwich Village map is small, with a lot of open space and not a lot of cover. Almost all of the map is covered by at least one HMG, and it leans more towards fast paced fighting with a back and forth battle fought over the flag than strategy, with plenty of 1 vs 1 shootouts. Brooklyn Rooftops, my personal favorite, has a lot of vertical traversal and is the most strategic of the maps. It has a large number of strategic positions, with some way to counter any defense or attack your opponent may try. Fort Jay is all about close quarters fighting, with the flag in a small open space in the center and a lot of alternate routes about the level. A single grenade or Molotov Cocktail can do serious damage, on account of the enclosed spaces.

 

9/10, "Don't forget to rate, comment, and subscribe"-every Youtube video ever

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