When you first start up Freedom Force,
you feel like you are in the middle of a Saturday morning cartoon. The game starts
with a long cut-scene explaining the origins of Minute Man (the first SuperHero you
control). The premise follows the motif: you control a band of Super Heros who must
protect the world from Super Villians, or else Earth will fall prey to an intergalactic,
inter-dimensional despot intent on ruling the universe.
Game play is primarily from a "God's eye" view, although you can change
camera angles if you wish. You move your character by clicking where you want to
go or on the item you want to interact with. Most characters and items have reasonable
default actions, so the game play is not complicated. However, the game will be much
more enjoyable if you have a two-button mouse, since there are a lot of "right-click"
gestures (remember that control-click is the Mac equivalent of right-click).
The game starts with easy tutorial levels that walk you through the basic game play.
After you master a few basic skills, you begin to add members to your team. At first,
the game chooses your team for you, but later on you can recruit additional heros.
Each hero has different strengths and weaknesses; the villains you face similarly
vary in abilities. Choosing a balanced team is essential to dominating the bad guys.
The game is rich with cut-scenes. All of the major characters have a 2-minute or
so "secret origins" cut-scene, as well as segues between missions. These
stories are done in the style of an animated comic book.
Your team consists of up to 4 heros, but you can only control one at a time. One
of the most annoying defects of the game is that heros don't have a "stand your
ground" mode; unless you explicitly tell them to attack an enemy, they don't
do anything. They will sit still and take damage without retaliating, until you notice
they are getting hurt and direct them to attack. Then, after you defeat one enemy,
they will not attack another without explicit direction.
The environment is completely interactive. You can rip up street lamps to use as
clubs (a great way to take out a band of thugs), pick up and throw cars and dumpsters,
explode flammable barrels, etc., not to mention the bad guys and civilians to interact
with. At higher levels, the number of objects seems to overload the game. When things
got hot and heavy, the game controls lagged behind the action. Since everything is
mouse-based, you cannot play if you cannot control the mouse. At times, it was extremely
At the higher levels, there can be a lot going on at once. Sometimes your objectives
include protecting civilians from ruffians. Unfortunately, often the action takes
place off screen, and there is no way to "zoom" your focus to the area
of interest. A "mini map" would help a lot.
Also, the number of objects can overwhelm the rendering engine. It is difficult to
describe, other than "it loses its mind." The screen degenerates into random
parts of buildings and enemies, and mouse control is all but lost. This is particularly
a problem with some of the larger villians, and the first-person perspective camera
During our evaluation, my sons complained of the game crashing, although it never
crashed when I was playing.
It has an ESRB rating of T (Teen) for violence, but I can't figure out why. This
game is no more violent than the Superman cartoons that showed on Saturday morning
in the 60s. I am very strict about what I allow my pre-teen to be exposed to, but
this game is very mild. It is a subtle point of the game that no one is ever killed,
just knocked out.
The game was evaluated on an eMac (800 MHz G4, 256MB). I used to think that this
was a fast machine, but it was barely up to the challenge.
Freedom Force has a multi-player mode that was not evaluated because each player
on the network must have a game CD.
Freedom Force uses a clever premise for a role-playing game that is consistently
applied. The story lines are enjoyable, and the game controls are not difficult.
The environment is fully interactive, and visually stimulating. The graphics are
primitive, but intentionally so to fit with the motif. It is clearly a sophisticated
game. However, game controls don't keep pace with the action, and get in the way
of accomplishing your objectives.
- Rich, interactive environment
- Interesting premise, enjoyable story
- Lots of fun cut-scenes
- Game controls can lag behind the
pace of the game
- No automatic attack of enemies
- Insuffient "situation awareness"
3 out of 5 Mice