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PC review: 'Freedom Force' fires up imagination

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By D-Pad Destroyer

(IDG) -- This game is every young man's dream: to be a superhero, tossing cars, swinging lightposts like baseball bats, and fighting evil wherever it appears. Luckily, not only is the concept perfect, but the gameplay's pretty close to perfect as well.

Greetings, freedom fanatics! Welcome to Patriot City, circa 1962, where a sinister plot is unfolding. An alien menace has unleashed the secret powers of Energy X on the unsuspecting populace, turning some citizens into superheroes -- and others into supervillains. You must help Freedom Force stop evil and preserve justice -- for Patriot City!

"Freedom Force" is a high-concept tactical RPG that relies on its audience's sense of irony and nostalgia. The game's mood hearkens back to the Silver Age of comics, back when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were creating such icons as Spider-Man, the X-Men and Captain America. The look, sound and presentation of the game is completely old-school; you'd swear that "King" Kirby returned from the grave to do the art for "Freedom Force." If you like superheroes (and who doesn't?), this is right up your alley.

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Luckily, the game lives up to its lofty goals, providing a tight, smart tactical game along the lines of the combat in "Baldur's Gate." Everything happens in real time, but you can pause the action to give orders to your heroes. The coolest thing is that you control superheroes who can toss cars, uproot trees, leap tall buildings and shoot lasers from their hands. Can't get the bad guy on the roof? Knock down the building he's standing on. You even collect Prestige points to recruit new heroes, even ones you created yourself in the game's character editor. With a growing number of Web sites out there for new skins and character models, you'll likely never run out of possible heroes to join "Freedom Force."

"Freedom Force" suffers only from a handful of faults. For one, selecting characters to give them commands is difficult, as is targeting enemies. Also, while the in-game cinemas are nice, there's no real "acting" going on; the characters just stand there as the dialogue appears at the top of the screen. Lastly, if you're not someone with an appreciation of the often-silly nature of Silver Age comics, you likely just won't get it. The characters are stiff and overwritten -- just as they should be. But comics fans weaned on the Dark Knight and Spawn probably won't think it's cool.

Thankfully, the game stands as a great tactical RPG in its own right, and if you love Kirby and Lee, you'll be filled with delight and wonder as you play through "Freedom Force." Finally, you get to live a comic-book adventure without having to worry about creasing the cover.

Freedom Force at a glance

  • Graphics: 4.5 (out of five)
  • Sound: 4.5
  • Control: 4.0
  • Fun Factor: 4.5

 
 
 
 


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