Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters
Freedom Fighters Cover
Platforms GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows
Genre Live Free or Die Squad Shooter
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Buy from Amazon

Freedom Fighters is a third-person action game set in an alternate reality in which the Soviet Union became the world superpower after WWII. What sets it apart from other action games is the squad tactics: you can give orders to a number of other people, and must use them strategically to advance through the game. The more charisma you earn, the more people you can command.

The game came out in 2003 for Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC. I played the GameCube version.

The story has the USSR invade the United States to "free it from a corrupt regime." You play as a guy from Brooklyn who sets out to make things right.

Will squad tactics help this game rise above an ordinary action game, or will the first hour be mired in learning a complicated control scheme, enough to put off any player? Let's find out.

Paul Eastwood delivers another great review just in time for the 4th of July! Enjoy!

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I choose "New Game" and the first hour of Freedom Fighters begins. Difficulty levels: "Demonstrator: A walk in the park," "Rebel: Have a blast," "Freedom Fighter: You got what it takes?" "Revolutionary: Against all odds." Well good, I was tired of "Easy, Medium, Hard" anyway. I choose Rebel, which I assume to be Normal.

01 - I spend nearly the first minute typing my name in with a clumsy keyboard interface. Strangely, the game only allows use of the control pad within menus, which at the very beginning led me to reset the game because I thought the controller was messed up.

02 - A cutscene introduces the plumber brothers Mario and . . . I mean Chris and Troy Stone. They complain about their work, and Troy mentions some conspiracy theories about the USSR, which he believes and Chris doesn't.

03 - The plumbers show up at a house but no one's home. Yeah, this can't be good. Russian-accented soldiers burst into the house and demand to know where "Isabella" is. They drag Troy away and order the house to be destroyed. Apparently they didn't see Chris, as I know have control of him and have to escape the house.

Freedom Fighters Downtown Battle

04 - A, X, and Y cause Chris to shout commands, variations on Advance, Defend and Retreat. R attacks, swinging a monkey wrench. B jumps, L is first person mode, Z brings up a real-time item menu.

05 - I clobber some unsuspecting Russian goons with my wrench and rescue a group of people being held at gunpoint. The apparent leader orders me to follow him. I obtain a handgun by walking over the guard's senseless body. That didn't take long!

06 - I run out onto a rooftop to see my brother being dragged into a helicopter and pop a few of the guards, but the helicopter gets away before I can do anything about it. Some soldiers shoot at me from the ground below; oh look, they're taking cover behind some red barrels. Boom.

07 - I am low on health, but I am led straight to an ambulance which contains medkits. We run out of an alley into a street full of people running, cars blowing up, and lots of smoke. It's pretty impressive. I make a right turn and come face to face with a huge Russian tank; I quickly turn around and run, taking cover behind wrecked cars.

08 - The tank blows up a cluster of cars right in front of me! The graphics aren't realistic, but they have a cool look to them. I come across a wounded man and give him one of my precious medkits, gaining 25 charisma points. Supposedly charisma allows you to recruit more people for the cause.

Freedom Fighters Hallway Battle

09 - I come across a guy who gives me a few Molotov cocktails and encourages me to throw them at the bad guys. We run up to a vantage point over a crowd of Russians behind cover and begin chucking the flaming bottles of gasoline (note: don't try this at home, kids). The first couple of throws miss, but then my new pal celebrates as we turn the ground below into a sea of flames with the Russians in the midst.

10 - Every enemy drops ammo. The aiming works by turning the camera with the C stick, and Chris automatically aims at anything in that general direction. I come across a manhole cover, which the game orders me to open. I get 25 charisma points and the game auto-saves.

11 - I'm treated to a cutscene, which is a newscast by a Russian woman, reporting my recent actions as "terrorist activity."

12 - We take a raft through the sewers (cut-scene) to the Brooklyn Rebel Base. It's a pipe junction in the sewer, with some camping equipment on it. My new friends and I get out on it.

13 - I can access a map, which shows sewer access points. I can choose which point to exit through. Depending on which I choose, I get a different mission briefing.

14 - The most important mission seems to be rescuing the leader of the resistance, Isabella, from the police station where she's being held. He says the police are pinned down by snipers on the roof of the gas station and need help.

Freedom Fighters Rebels

15 - The game is pseudo-open-world. Soviet roadblocks keep movement from being completely free, but I can use the sewer system to get past some of them. Basically that separates the game into levels. I see the police hiding behind an overturned truck and head over toward them, and I'm dead. Apparently the snipers they mentioned got me.

16 - I bring up the map to try to see where the snipers might be. A sniper bullet nearly hits me, and then another one gets me, but I figured out where it's coming from.

18 - Now that I know the position of the snipers, I make it to the police behind the truck. One officer gives me C4 and tells me to blow up the gas station to take care of the snipers. I have to go to the other manhole to get to the gas station, cool. I thought each mission would be self-contained, but apparently not.

19 - I run up to a Soviet and fire, and Chris shoots him in the foot several times. Not sure if that was supposed to happen, but it was kind of cool. I pick up the soldier's assault rifle, sweet!

21 - The jaunt to the gas station is fairly painless, I spot two huge tanks of fuel. C4, anyone? Down the street on the other side of the fence I can see the cops I'm rescuing. Pressing A, I plant C4 on the fuel tanks, which takes a few seconds, then I get a count-down timer to get out of the way. As the timer hits zero, some dramatic choral music plays, and I rack up 25 more charisma points.

22 - As I run away a siren goes off in the distance. The Reds have been alerted to my actions! I shoot my way through a few enemy reinforcements back to the manhole and descend into the sewer, past a kid spray painting an American flag on the wall.

Freedom Fighters Alleyway

23 - I go back to the Police Station and the snipers no longer give me trouble. I like the way that played out.

25 - I run out of ammo in my assault rifle and he swings it like a club. I knock a couple guys out like this, but it's not effective enough, so I switch to my pistol.

26 - I sneak into the parking garage, avoiding the eyes of the guards in front of the station. I also figure out how to crouch: down on the control pad. Wish I had known that before.

27 - There are some soldiers in the parking garage, so we have a cool firefight between cars. One soldier ducks behind a car for cover, and the car alarm goes off as my bullets graze the fender.

28 - It's dark in here and hard to see the enemy soldiers. I quickly show myself from cover to lure the last one into shooting and giving away his position. Now I see you! Bang bang.

29 - I'm low on health, Chris can't take many shots. Med kits heal you fully.

Freedom Fighters Warehouse

30 - A baddy drops a shotgun, but I'll have to put down my assault rifle to carry it. I decide to give it a try. It is more powerful than the assault rifle but not an instant kill like in some games. I switch back to the assault rifle, which is longer range.

32 - I get killed as I'm using a medkit! Running and gunning is a bad idea, it exposes you to way too much fire. I have to start from the last time I saved, which is when I last entered a manhole.

38 - I get back to where I was killed and take a more cautious approach. Some guys are shooting at me from a balcony, I can't get a good shot back at them.

40 - There a bunch of guys out there, I don't think I can handle them all. I fall back and look for a alternate path, and what do you know, I find one. That's cool, I expected to have to kill them all, but really I just wasn't supposed to go there.

41 - I run upstairs and come out on the balcony, gunning down the would-be snipers.

42 - I remember I have Molotov cocktails and hurl one, but it's hard to aim them.

Freedom Fighters Battle

43 - I scour the halls of the Police Station until I hear someone call for help. I burst into an office with guns blazing, cutting down two guards. Another ducks behind a desk, but I jump over it and finish off the coward. The call for help came from none other than Isabella, the leader of the resistance and the woman I came to rescue! She suggests we hang our flag on the station, so I climb out onto the balcony and press A to pull down the Soviet flag and raise the Stars and Stripes (gaining 25 charisma for doing so).

44 - I get a stats screen with enemies killed, shots fired, etc. and then a cutscene shows me back in the base.

45 - I set out to rescue my kidnapped brother, who is being held in the post office.

46 - Isabella leads me to an apartment, a safehouse for the resistance movement. A bunch of people hanging around, they thank me for rescuing Isabella. Graffiti on the wall says "better dead than red."

47 - I take a detour to stock up on ammo hidden under the stairs; Isabella doubles back and reminds me I'm supposed to be following her and fusses at me for taking too long.

48 - The safehouse gives us a vantage point over the Post Office, which the Soviets are using as a staging area. Isabella offers the services of two men in the room, I can press A to recruit them. I run back downstairs to see if I can recruit anyone else but I can't, so I take those two men.

49 - They respond well to my commands. If I tap a command button, one of them responds. If I hold it down, they both do it. Whoops, I go into a restroom, and one of them gets stuck on the wall trying to get out, and I have to do some clever ordering to save him. I guess I shouldn't have taken them into the restroom with me.

Freedom Fighters Helicopter Chase

51 - I like having these guys to control. I don't really like shooters very much, so it's nice to let my men do some of the dirty work for me.

52 - Nice set-up here, a vantage point allows me to command my men while staying mostly out of harms way and providing cover in the form of assault rifle fire and/or Molotovs. Too bad I didn't notice it until after I cleared the area. I'll keep an eye out in the future.

53 - The friendly AI is pretty good, they utilize cover pretty well.

54 - One of my men goes down! I can give him one of my medkits to revive him.

55 - Heh, if one of you men is in your way or gets stuck on you, he disappears and appears on the other side of you. A little jarring, but better than getting stuck!

56 - I rescue my brother from the baduns and he leads me to the Soviet flag to finish the mission.

57 - The stat screen tells me the number of enemies I killed, as well as my men. I'm much more accurate, but they are still really useful.

58 - Another Soviet newscast declares my a terrorist and proclaims the act of raising an American flag punishable by death.

60 - The hour ends with me back in the sewer base, which is now better furnished and in it resides my brother.

Freedom Fighters Crouch And Shoot

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 3

Things I liked: Perfect pacing, great set pieces, giving squad commands is fun.

Things I Didn't like: The control scheme is a bit odd, the three primary buttons on the controller give commands, and I couldn't figure out how to duck for a long time. I don't really like the real-time inventory, I usually like to use my item-switching time to take stock of the situation.

Graphics: Stylized, a bit comic-booky. I like it.

Sound: Not much music, the guns sound good enough, the voice work is actually really good. The Soviet soldiers actually speak Russian to each other, which is rare in games. Between your character calling out commands (he has several possible phrases for each command), your men answering, and the Soviets yelling in Russian, all over the top of machine gun fire and explosions, it really sounds like a battle.

Story: Funny premise, told well. There were two cutscenes, but most of it was told by NPCs during the actual gameplay, which I like.

Environment Design: The set pieces allowed for some great battles, like a shootout in a parking garage and an office raid. The game was great at setting up battles that felt like a movie sequence, without being overly scripted. It wasn't too hard to figure out where you were going.

Fun: It was a blast. When I died, my first thought was "How can I do better," rather than "Why did I just die?"

Keep Playing? Definitely. This is a game I'll probably finish.

Overall Thoughts: Freedom Fighters has a great first hour. It was almost as if they were designing it that way on purpose. Not only do we get control a mere three minutes in, by five minutes we've already escaped the Soviets and rescued some prisoners, and ten minutes finds us hurling Molotov cocktails. Even better, it keeps up the pace, so that after fifty minutes of exciting combat we get our first taste of squad commands, and the last ten minutes lets us get just comfortable enough with it to keep us going. Endearing graphics, immersive sound design, and great environment design top off an interesting premise and solid gameplay to deliver an impressive first hour. Good job!

Freedom Fighters Wallpaper