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Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Irrational Games
genre: RPG

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 733, 128MB RAM, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.irrational-games.com/ff/

release date: Mar 08, 05
» All About Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich on ActionTrip


March 08, 2005
Branka "Nikerym" Todorovic

Anyone who ever tells you that being a superhero is easy is a damn liar. How do I know? It's simple - I happen to be a superhero myself. After all, I wear red shiny underpants *over* my trousers when I'm drunk, matching them with studded Wonder Bras and gigantic Elton John sunglasses, and have this unnerving habit of shouting out battle cries while performing menial tasks like cleaning the bathroom or taking out the trash. (Foul soap scum! I will destroy you with the light of TRUTH!) I bet no would-be heroes ever took into account early mornings and late nights spent saving kittens from tall trees, helping grannies cross the street or rescuing burnt turkey out of the oven. No, I guess they never thought of that. They also never thought of ungrateful citizens who never seem to appreciate enough what is being done for them, let alone hand over some money as a sign of respect for my pains. If you're wearing red underpants in combination with spiky bras, you do have to display a certain amount of bravery, right? (If not fashion sense - Ed) Bah, superheroes are never appreciated enough. Only the fact that we're dealing with grannies with bad breath and icy cold hands would be enough to earn us a secure place in paradise if there was one, but humans always were and will be selfish and ungrateful.

Most of the time, we poor heroes save kittens and stuffed turkeys, but sometimes our duties are even more demanding than that. Every once in a while, a dangerous madman with an identity crisis and a thing for fluffy albino cats will appear with insane schemes to take control of the world, the universe or, if he is not that ambitious, a 7/11. But we always manage to capture the crazy bastard and prevent him from realizing his devilish plans. Of course, I happen to have some theories about the possible behavior of the said madman if he managed to become the ruler of the world, but as I do not wish the FBI on my back, I shall just keep them to myself.

My colleagues from Patriot City, a valiant team of superheroes led by the alien mastermind Mentor and the fiery patriot Minuteman have found themselves in a very similar situation. Not only has Patriot City and the safety of its citizens been put in danger, but the future of the entire world is hanging on a thread, as several power-mad masterminds weave their evil plots in order to bring the universe to the brink of destruction. Freedom Force Vs. The Third Reich features several villains that need to be stopped before the world as we know it crumbles into pieces. The game leads us through the immersive story with several twists and turns that represent the universe of comic book superheroes at its best. All the necessary elements are there: a team of attractive superheroes endowed with mysterious powers of Energy X, several ingeniously wicked and completely insane villains, several real-life based and fictional settings (such as Cuba and Patriot City), and of course, time travel as you are sent back and forth through time in order to prevent the Third Reich from taking over of the world.

Freedom Force Vs. The Third Reich is a great example of a well-written story with main characters that are intelligent, complex and full of surprises. What I *really* hate about RPGs is when they feature one-dimensional characters that look as if they were drawn out of a book of stereotypes. This game features seemingly typical superheroes that manage to escape the clich' and rise above it. This may sound strange as Freedom Force offers us a classical hero vs. villain story with a plot seen more times than Carmen Electra's naked butt (Hey! I can NEVER see enough of Carmen Electra's naked butt! -Ed), but although the game presents an interactive comic consisting of clich' and commonplace elements, it does this in a very satisfying manner. If you scratch under the surface, you'll discover more profound meaning hidden beneath the many layers of crude and straightforward symbolism so typical for many comic books.

The main campaign in FFVTR is split into separate missions or series of missions where primary and secondary goals are pursued. The first mission serves as a tutorial, helping you to grasp the fantastically simple yet effective control system. Apart from introducing the two superheroes that you will realize with time are the core of the future events, this introductory mission gives you a glimpse into the future and helps the player better understand what's going on in Patriot City.

The first part of the main campaign is dedicated to defeating Nuclear Winter in his intentions to cloak the world in eternal winter. This evil madman plans on performing a nuclear strike on Moscow, thus provoking its response by striking at America in turn. His plan is a nuclear war spanning the face of the planet where he will be left as the ultimate leader. Mad Russians wearing furry hats and hooked on vodka always serve as a good excuse for our heroes to flex some of their superpowers. Still, the missions where you have to prevent the nuclear strike and make an end to comrade Nuclear Winter's lunacy is just the beginning of the nightmare, as they help you prepare for what comes next. And what comes next is the crazy Nazi Blitzkrieg who intends to bring back the glory of the Third Reich by using Time Master's ultimate powers in order to enable time travel and forever change the history of the world. Believe it or not, that is only the start of your troubles.

The main campaign, of course, isn't crudely split into parts - the missions are intertwined thanks to the great story development and a series of events that connect them all together. The game functions very similar to the original with only some slight changes made and several new heroes added to the list. Before you venture on a mission, you are able to train your superheroes in the base, buy them new powers, and upgrade the existing ones. The character development system is very simple and intuitive, enabling you to spend your experience points the way you seem fit - by either buying your heroes new abilities or providing them with some attractive superpowers. Some powers are passive, meaning they are mostly defensive in nature, while some require use of your energy supplies. The game offers quite an impressive list of superpowers. Of course, the higher you climb on the superhero ladder, the more powerful your powers become. Likewise, your enemies grow stronger as they level, so your fight against evil will always remain a challenge worthy of a true hero.

Mission objectives in FFTV are very diverse and vary from destroying a certain target, or preventing the opponent from doing so, to simply eliminating boss characters. You will sometimes be forced to make snap decisions and adjust to the situation at hand in order to complete these objectives. Some missions will come sequentially and without the possibility of switching characters, so you will have to take care of the ones at your disposal the best you know how. If your team of four does not prove to be up to the challenge, however, you will be able to restart the mission and try a different approach with the same characters.

The best thing about this game is definitely the fact that it's so user-friendly. Everything from the simple commands, highly intuitive interface and the agile and fully controllable camera, to the nicely conceived character development system and the possibility of saving your progress at any moment during the game, makes this title very enjoyable to play. Add the fact that the game has all the addictiveness and offers just as much fun as its predecessor and it has a rather lengthy and challenging main campaign and the prettier visuals and enhanced 3D features feel like icing on the proverbial cake.

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9.2   Excellent


HIGHS
Everything except...

LOWS
no mini-map, more actual uses for the destructible environment, any truly revolutionary features.

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