Up this week is an overlooked gem that takes its story beats from Red Dawn – Freedom Fighters (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia). Freedom Fighters is a third person shooter focused on squad based combat, with you taking control of a plumber after the Russian Army invades the US. While this is hardly an original premise, this game is well regarded in the years since its release, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The game starts with the main character on his way to a plumbing job for a local news anchor – his brother is working with him and can’t stop talking about all the womanizing he’s been doing. You both arrive at the apartment, but no one is home – just then, the Russian Army barges in and takes your brother hostage. It’s up to you to join the resistance and get your brother back. Like I said before, not an exactly original story, but it’s not a bad premise either – it gives you motivation to fight back, and it’s fun being the underdog. I can’t say where the story goes, but I imagine it’s fairly predictable. Not every game needs to have a deep and involved story, and if that’s what you’re looking for I think you’d be better served elsewhere. As far as gameplay is concerned, the controls are responsive and fairly intuitive (except for jump being mapped to L1 – who thought that was a good idea?) and the weapons sound and feel good. I will say that between loading the different locations through the sewers and performing auto saves, you will be waiting a lot to get to the action. Overall, the minute to minute gameplay is very fun and it’s quite rewarding blowing up some Russians.
Sound is something that I had some issue with here, not that it’s bad overall – it’s not – but that if some parts of it had been better it would have elevated it that much more. For example, sound effects are quite good, and surprisingly the voice acting is excellent. This is all let down by the really mediocre soundtrack. Some of the tracks fit well but others are so bland that they color my memory of the entire music selection.
Graphics are quite good and hold up really well – I was surprised at how good this game still looks. The frame rate is mostly solid and the special effects (explosions, fire) look great for a PS2 title.
Verdict: Play again! I can see why this is so well regarded – it’s incredibly polished and it’s fun as hell. I’ll definitely be playing this again.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb