July 25, 2003
Freedom Fighters - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
12/9/2003EA GamesIo Interactive1$99.95

Click To Enlarge Image
Firefight.
I've been somewhat surprised by the very near release date of this game. After seeing screenshots well over a year ago it's a game that I've always thought "I must preview that". But time goes by (so much time that the name of the game changed from the original name Freedom: The Battle For Liberty Island to Freedom: Soldiers Of Liberty before settling on Freedom Fighters) and for one reason or another the game never got previewed. It's a shame because of all of Electronic Arts' Christmas 2003 roster this is one of the few games that isn't a sequel, or doesn't have a high profile license attached to it. In fact, of EA's 23 titles being published from August to November 2003, Freedom Fighters is one of only five titles that doesn't fit into one of those categories.

Click To Enlarge Image
The Gold Coast on a Saturday night!
Freedom Fighters is set in a world where the Soviet Union has won the Cold War, and a fierce conflict is unfolding in the streets of America. Taking on the role of Christopher Stone, players evolve from an average New Yorker into a fearless patriot who recruits and leads an army of freedom fighters in the streets of New York City. Freedom Fighters combines the depth of a squad-based game with the intensity of an action-packed war game that unfolds in the streets, subways, and buildings of the city. The game begins with you in an apartment fixing some plumbing when the Russians invade New York. Rather then being a spectator Christopher starts up the resistance to reclaim the city.

With leadership comes great responsibility. The lives of your soldiers and the quest for American Freedom are held together by your courage, charisma, and leadership skills. Because wars are not won alone, a key component of the game depends on the player's ability to recruit and lead fellow New Yorkers in the battle against the Red Menace. An intuitive recruiting command system allows him to give orders to his fellow soldiers and execute critical missions at the touch of a single button.

Click To Enlarge Image
The graphics are certainly detailed.
One of the key elements of this title is the ability to select and recruit up to 12 Freedom Fighters into battle. The guerilla warfare will include small sabotage missions to large-scale battles to overrun large enemy installations. A charisma-based Recruiting System awards points for rescuing freedom fighters or capturing vital installations, allowing the player to recruit more men as well as providing an emotional tie to the fighters. Freedom Fighters includes a Variety of weapons including machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, and Molotov Cocktails. The game also features armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters and artillery, as well as a long range of different handheld weapons.

Click To Enlarge Image
Running from the gunship.
With action taking place both indoors and out it's nice to see that Io Interactive are pushing the Playstation 2 to its limits and succeeding in re-creating New York with much authenticity. (If you're wondering who Io Interactive are they're the chaps behind the brilliant Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on PC and PS2.) The detail in the levels is impressive with some wonderful texturing and in particular special effects. The game uses Io Interactive’s 'Glacier' engine that lends to amazing 3D special effects such as real-time lighting, rain, snow, smoke, and explosions. Finally the developers are including 4-player split screen support for some multi-player mayhem.

Click To Enlarge Image
The fire effects are stunning.
Perhaps it's a sad state of today’s gaming industry that over hyped games and poorly developed games such as Enter The Matrix manage to sell millions of units while games with undeniable potential such as Freedom Fighters barely rates a mention in most publications, and isn't even promoted hard by the publisher, Electronic Arts. This is one game that deserves much more attention then it's likely to receive. Do yourselves a favor. Forget the over-hyped licensed games and have a look at something original - and potentially brilliant.