Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I write game reviews:

Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich

Style: 100%
Sound Quality: 90%
Graphics Quality: 90%
Gameplay: 90%
Average Value: 95%
Final Value: 93% at 40$

Highs: Like its predecessor, it has a highly entertaining story that both mocks and revels in the golden age of comic book heroes and villains.

Lows: Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich achieves one of the greatest goals in all of gaming; there simply is not enough of it. It may only be the feeling left by a really great game, but at the end, you will more than likely be wanting more. There are some game elements that seem obvious, and yet are not there in the package, such as some form of co-op. The closest thing to co-op is team-based multiplayer, which, is not the same. It feels like there is more art carried over from Freedom Force than there is content developed specifically for this game.

RPG Fans: For a game with so many RPG elements, this is not an RPG by a long shot. It is, more fairly, a turn based strategy game. You might like it. You will more than likely love it. Just do not expect an RPG. Other than that, it does have lots of elements that you will more than appreciate.

Strategy Fans: This is squad-based strategy, with heavy role-playing elements. If you enjoyed Warcraft III, then you should enjoy this. Fun and fast paced, and if you have skills in RTS gaming, you’ll have an edge in multiplayer where there is no pausing.

Everyone Else: This is a good game, and it is worth every penny of what could now be considered the low price of 40. If you are not particularly fond of RPG or Strategy, then keep it in mind in case you see it floating in a bargain bin. It is easily worthy of giving a look as it has the quality of production that allows it to transcend genre appreciation.

Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich is a mouthful of a name, and a handful of a game. It begins shortly after the end of the original Freedom Force, re-living the bittersweet ending of the last mission before the adventure begins with foreshadowing of a twist to come. The overdramatic moments, and old style comic-bookish animation of the cut-scenes is a signature of what is now the Freedom Force series as opposed to a singular Freedom Force game. What makes it feel so great is that there is a feeling that glows from every cheesy moment that makes this idea that everything in Freedom Force is a true homage to childhood heroes, and dreams and comic book fantasies. Poking fun has never been done with so much love.

The plot is driven by all the same characters that you know and love from the original Freedom Force, if you have played it before, but you certainly do not need to in order to appreciate the story of this one. Most of the characters are completely reverted to their starting Freedom Force statistics, though some of them come with a few upgrades that make them a little easier to play with in the single player game. In addition to this, a great many of the characters will need to be earned back and recruited using prestige which is earned during the missions. Thankfully, prestige is much easier to come by, making it very possible to recruit, at the very least, your favorite squad members from last game.

All the characters that drive the plot, plus all of the new characters that are built into the game are available, for the most part, and along with all of the original Secret Origin scenes from the original game, every new character that is part of the plot has a Secret Origin cut scene, building upon the base content rather than just filling out totally new content. This is not a bad thing, because there is still an awful lot of new content, it is arguably a very good thing as far as user mod development goes, allowing for much more pre-made content from which to build custom comic books.

Character creation is very deep, allowing for massive customization of each attack, a host of super powers and flaws to choose from, as well as a list of stats that should be carefully balanced before use. When working with a prestige limit tweaking becomes compulsive, and you will find yourself building teams in order to round out the powers for multiplayer. The rumble room is another nice addition to FFvtTR. It lets you arrange battles of varying sizes and difficulties with which to experiment and often simply kick loads of butt.

Multiplayer is solidly filled out with plenty of modes for various competitive games. These include arena, and deathmatch modes along with their team based counterparts as well several others and story based mode. Story modes are ultimately a list of the exact same game types, but you get to type in a description to the match that gives it a “purpose”. Story mode also lets the host preset the player’s teams to add a unifying orientation to them, such as all bad characters and all good characters.

With all the testing we did of the multiplayer, which was intensely fun, we found story mode to be the least useful. Multiplayer was especially deep in combination with the character creation process, and the rumble room, where we were able to test the metal of the characters we made and temper them over time even between matches of clashing in deathmatch. What would have been much more appreciated over story mode gaming would have been something as simple as a co-op rumble room.

The levels are wonderfully destructible. Everything is waiting for you to rip it out of the ground and throw it, when it comes to a car or swing it like a massive steel baseball bad when ripping lampposts out of the ground is involved. The environments are far more detailed due to the improved graphics engine, buildings have interiors, and the textures feel much nicer this time around. Sadly, there were no locations with twists that just grabbed for attention this time; almost everything took place in fairly urban locations. It is hard to push this as a negative for the game, but after Freedom Force it is a very real lack of a positive point, especially given how much more beautiful they would have been given the new lighting and higher resolution models and textures available.

Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich is more of a very good thing, and it leaves you wanting even more when it ends. It is full of twists, rich story, laughs, and enjoyable characters that let you feel the glory of being a real part of a comic book. If it sounds like a game you’ll like, it is of a high enough quality that you will love it. For some people, the Freedom Force series is a dream come true. Irrational has produced a wonderful offering, and with luck will produce more to come. As you read this, mod tools are already being made to the community, and there will be plenty to look forward to from till another installment is on the way.

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