Force vs. The Third Reich
Review by Old Rooster
Comics for Gramps
The other day, a new visitor to our home noticed the many shelves
of games in my den. He was particularly struck by a colorful section
including such titles as The Hulk, Spider-Man 2, X-Men:
Legends, and Freedom
Force. Indeed, sitting on my desk was the latest
Force release, which has the superheroes tangling with the
Third Reich. "How nice of you to play those comic-based games
with your grandson," said he. "Those aren't for my grandson,"
I replied, "they're among my best and most favored gamespure
escapism, funny and hugely entertaining. Here, let me show you a
bit of this wonderful new release from Sierra."
And so we proceeded to explore the vivid and bold strokes, as well
as outstanding gameplay, of one of the finest games this year: Freedom
Force vs. The Third Reich. Needless to say, a convert was made.
I should get a commission!
"That's All Real Nice, Old Timer; Now, Please Tell Us About
Three years ago, Irrational Games took our little world of electronic
entertainment by storm with the release of Freedom Forcea
very original strategy/RPG/adventure. Although looking as if derived
from comics of the 1960s, Freedom Force introduced a whole
new stable of superhero characters, working to thwart villains in
a plot that was outrageous. Except, possibly, for X-Men: Legends,
nothing has come close to equaling the vibrancy and gameplay
of this outstanding game. Until now, that is.
It's been one year since the original Freedom Force superhero team
has done its job and, for the most part, each member has gone to
his or her respective "civilian" locales. But all is not
well in Patriot City. The portent of problems begins with the very
bad dreams of Alchemiss and intensifies for real when two of the
classic baddies, Time Master and Nuclear Winter, escape from prison.
Before we know it, World War II looks like it may move toward a
very different outcomein favor of the Third Reich!
Enter our superheroes. The old team is called back to duty, including
such stalwarts as Minute Man, with his trusty patriot staff, and
El Diablo, who just loves to give a guy "a light." Joining
the regulars are six new and very different characters:
- Green GenieHe can transform into anything, and make chaos
of a battle;
- Black JackWho loves to play with poison-tipped cards;
- QuetzalcoatlA young man able to summon the powers of an
- Sky KingJust loves any excuse to use his rocket pack;
- TombstoneA failed electrocution gives him deadly powers;
- TricolourBeautiful, but don't turn your back on this master
of the sword.
"You Fools Understand So Little of Death" Tombstone
Time Master and Nuclear Winter are not alone in their villainous
ways. We also have:
- FortissimoWho can level a city block with his voice;
- Red SunAn unparalleled samurai swordsman;
- BliltzkriegThe Nazi genius who can bend the will of men.
The story is not especially logical, has some plot holes, is twisty-turny
and won't keep you awake at night worrying about whether this might
really happen. Rather, it's much in the spirit of a comic and needs
to be taken for what it is and with considerable tongue in cheek.
With the developers clearly aiming for some degree of satire and
camp, I found it best to just let the story roll, not look for hidden
references or puns, immerse myself in it, and have a heck of a good
Our tale evolves through a sequence of chapters and missions, taking
15 to 20 hours to complete on a medium difficulty setting. After
being given a briefing, you're tasked with selecting and equipping
up to four superheroes. As the game moves along, not only do the
available heroes become more numerous, but also the skills required
to perform your missions become more demanding. You may not at all
need the swordplay of Tricolour, but rather the confusion that can
be generated by Green Genie.
"When Fortissimo Sings, Everybody Dies" Fortissimo
Interestingly, and fascinatingly, there is a fluidity and lack
of linearity to mission accomplishment. Your heroes are dynamic
in that they have a range and level of skills, as well as "health"
that can be diminished by the use of those skills. Further, as you
move successfully along, you earn experience and prestige points.
These not only increase powers, but also can be used to solicit
new heroes for the cause. Finally, even though it may be obvious
you need Green Genie over Tricolour, there is nothing that says
this has to be so. You may just make it with a sword instead of
chaos, and it's often a lot of fun to try. This offers tremendous
replayability for FFVTR. Additionally, an incredible character
creation tool not only allows modification of powers and visible
effects, but also gives you the option to change the look of a hero.
The developers have gone all out to afford not only replay possibilities
in the campaign/story mode, but also a selection of multiplay and
other options. My dial-up connection imposed limits, but those with
cable or DSL will enjoy not only a range of types, including deathmatch,
tag, team massacre, and, the most intriguing of all, Story Mode.
With this, you can create custom scenarios, choosing heroes, villains,
game mode and map, even a background story and what it will take
to win the mission. Finally, those of us who prefer not to play
on the Internet weren't left out by any means. A Rumble Room option
is included, allowing you to select a map and heroes against any
number of A.I.-controlled bot villains you choose. Great for practice!
"Smite the Wicked" Minuteman
You control your team in three-quarter view 3D settings, with a
good deal of individual micromanagement required. Essentially, FFVTR
is a tactical real-time strategy game with strong RPG components.
Indeed, although you can shift from one hero to another quickly,
it's quite necessary to do a good deal of "babysitting"
with those not selected. They will defend themselves, but not nearly
at the level you would expect, and they do evidence some unpredictability
in their actions. Succinctly, this is an A.I. problem that doesn't
spoil the game by any means, but it is a bit of a glitch and may
well be rectified by a patch.
The interface is extremely efficient and uncluttered. Facial portraits
of your squad members are shown, together with indicators of health,
energy, power and other critical gameplay factors. Movement of the
selected hero is controlled through either arrow keys or the mouse.
Indeed, use of the mouse is critical in FFVTR for securing
information. A right-click pauses the game, allowing orders to be
given. A left-click on a target will bring up a menu showing the
default power you may use and a range of other possibilities. There
are eight mouse indicators showing the kinds of attacks and other
interactive options available. Not only can the game be paused,
but you can save anywhere. Indeed, in case you forget due to being
so caught up in the story and fun, the game saves automatically
after every mission and also even at the point where you exit for
any reason. However, there is no minimap. This is the only disappointment
I had with FFVTR. Although directional arrows show the way,
your team can sometimes get a bit lost, and it would be helpful
to spot them on a minimap. This isn't a play-killer, by any means,
but it would have been a useful inclusion.
"If I Can't Reignite My Flame, All of Freedom Force Will
Be on Ice" El Diablo
The aforementioned fluidity in the environment is also demonstrated
by virtually all buildings, structures, items you can see and touch,
shoot, punch, burn, toss about. Some of the comic outrageousness
in the game comes about with extreme actions in which you can engage,
which may or may not be required in order to advance your goals.
Innocent citizens and even other superheroes need to beware when
Tombstone starts shooting his electrical bolts! Picking up a street
lamp to use as a weapon is something we've always wanted to do.
As evidenced by the pics I've taken on my tour of duty, the settings
are not only richly colorful, but highly detailed and interesting.
The maps can be zoomed and rotated. Even on my puny system, with
many details lowered or turned off, you can see how good FFVTR
looks. You can even elect to move the camera right next to a
hero, getting down and dirty with the action.
Your travels will take you from crowded city streets to a military
base, underground labs and bunkers, even back to the heart of the
Third Reich in WWII. The storyline becomes a bit convoluted, but
it never loses its sense of style and fun. There's a lot more I'd
like to tell you about it, but I don't want to spoil your discovery.
Trust me, you'll like it.
Fortunately, voice acting, sound effects and musical themes are
as well-crafted as the graphics. You can get away with "over
the top" with a comic-based adventure, and the actors clearly
have a lot of fun voicing the likes of Fortissimo, Minute Man and
El Diablo. Their work is undergirded by a tight, very professional,
funny and creative script. Not only is the story itself involving,
but there are sufficient one-liners to leave you laughing. "Did
somebody order Mexican?" El Diablo says of himself upon arriving.
This is but a sample of a script filled with this kind of comic-style
"For Freedom!" The Force Battle Cry
Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich is most highly recommended
as an essential purchase for your game library. It may not have
the strategy depth of a Ghost Recon or the RPG nuances of
Nights. What it does have is a style all its own,
clearly making it not only one of the most creative and original
games of this year, but also one of the best. From involving story
to eye-popping graphics, very funny script, incredible characters,
great voice acting, ultra-smooth gameplay, and an unusual range
of extended play options, FFVTR brings it all together better
than any PC game I've played in the past year. Get out there! Join
the superheroes! Don't let the Nazis take out Washington!
What I Liked Most About FFVTR
- The story, characters and graphics grab you right from the outset;
- Control and interface are superb;
- There's a huge range of colorful heroes and villains;
- The range of play and replay options will keep this on your
hard disk for a long time;
- The general outrageousness will make you smile and is great
- Will run on lower-end systems.
Minor Problems I Experienced
- An interface minimap would be helpful;
- Nonselected-hero A.I. can sometimes be problematic.
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Release Date: March 8, 2005
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium III 733 GHz (P4 1.8 GHz recommended)
128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended)
32 MB 3D GeForce 2 video card (256 MB recommended)
DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card
700 MB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
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by any party(ies).