Freedom Force, released three years ago almost to the day, was a tactical strategy game involving superheroes. When “Energy X” canisters began falling on Patriot City, some of the city’s citizens used their newfound powers to do good -- and shortly formed the Freedom Force -- while others turned into villains and decided to rob banks and cause general mayhem. One villain, called Time Master, took it upon himself to try and stop time, and Freedom Force’s campaign ended when he was defeated.
Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich picks up where Freedom Force left off. Things are quiet around Patriot City, but then one of the villains from the first game, Nuclear Winter, escapes from prison and takes Time Master with him. Soon, Time Master’s powers are being used for nefarious purposes, and, quicker than you can say “we’ve got jerries to jumble,” Freedom Force finds itself in an alternate universe where the Nazis have won World War II and now control the world. The campaign in Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich involves Freedom Force’s efforts to stop Blitzkrieg, the evil mastermind behind the Nazi resurgence, and to put the world back where it should be.
Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, like its predecessor, is a tactical strategy game with some role-playing elements. You still control up to four superheroes during each of the game’s 20+ missions, the missions still involve more fighting than puzzle-solving, and the superheroes still eventually gain levels and add to their powers. In fact, if you played Freedom Force, then Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich will probably seem overly familiar, because almost nothing about the game has changed. The mechanics are the same, the interface is the same, and even most of the heroes are the same, because every hero from Freedom Force is available in Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich.
(Left) An apartment building in Freedom Force. (Right) The same sort of building in Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich.
Really, there are only two things that are new in Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich
. The first is the graphics engine. I didn’t have a problem with the graphics engine from Freedom Force
, but it’s easy to see the improvement in the new game. The graphics are brighter and objects have more detail, and all of the lighting and fog effects you’d expect to see are now in place. For comparative purposes, I’ve included side-by-side shots of apartment buildings in Freedom Force
and Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich
, and the shots do a good job of summarizing the changes. The old buildings are dull and lifeless. The new buildings are brighter and actually have interiors and windows, and the windows reflect what they see.
The other major difference between the two Freedom Force games is the campaign. Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich’s campaign has fewer missions, and they take place on smaller maps, but the storyline is better, and the missions are more interesting. While Freedom Force’s missions were almost all about disabling enemies (sometimes to overkill), this new campaign keeps things moving a little better, and it allows you do things like disable nuclear warheads and save the Gutenberg Bible. Plus, the time traveling is fun, especially when you get to go back in time and meet some of the World War II era heroes, like the jetpack-wearing Sky King (who sounds like a cross between John Wayne and James Stewart) and the fencing champion Tricolour.
Also, related to the campaign, the enemies in the game are all new. The German foot soldiers aren’t too different from the thugs in the first game, but the villains are much more creative. For example, Nuclear Winter, who didn’t do anything interesting during his missions in Freedom Force, now turns into an enormous ice giant when he’s taken enough damage. And the Italian villain Fortissimo flies around and sings his enemies to death. The new enemies help make Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich seem like a new game, even though the mechanics of the two games are so similar.
Finally, sometimes it’s best not to have any differences. Both Freedom Force games have the same kooky, over-the-top comic book charm to them, and almost all of the voice actors from the first game returned to reprise their roles in the sequel, and they all did another fantastic job. Plus, Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich is still fun to play, which is probably the most important thing to worry about, and so it’s easy for me to forgive the game some of its faults (like having to hold the alt key to rotate the camera), and to instead hope that a third game is somewhere in the pipeline, and that publishers are lining up to represent it.