Freedom Fighters Review
Anyone looking for thrilling action with refined control and a great premise need look no further than Freedom Fighters.
While the enemy AI doesn't seem to be quite as smart as your team, the Soviet troops are good at taking cover and using nearby gun turrets to ensure that your advance is a diffiicult one. They'll also use cover and will take advantage of their superior numbers, making them a consistently challenging foe. In all, Freedom Fighters' friendly and enemy artificial intelligence is easily some of the best to date in a shooter. The game has four difficulty levels, and the increase in challenge from one level to the next is noticeable. You'll definitely be taking more damaging fire as you slide up the difficulty scale. Additionally, the game is good at getting more difficult as you move through the missions. Near the beginning, you'll be facing basic troops with pistols and other light weapons. But you'll start to see larger troops with flak jackets and shotguns and heavily armored machine gunners, and later in the game you'll even face off against a tank.
The only real problem with Freedom Fighters is that there simply isn't enough of it. While the game does a good job of making you think you're nearly finished, only to toss another set of missions at you, veteran action gamers should be able to get through the game on the second or third difficulty setting in eight to 12 hours. However, unlike other action games of similar length--Max Payne, for example--the game doesn't really give you much reason to go back through and play a second time. Rather than giving you access to special features or alternate modes, completing the game simply gives you the ability to go back and play any mission at will, though with the entire squad you've amassed.
Freedom Fighters is simultaneously appearing on the PC and all three major consoles. While each version of the game is about as equally impressive on its respective platform, there are definitely some differences in control. The PC version of the game makes great use of the same mouse-and-keyboard control you'd expect from most first- or third-person action games. It also offers more-precise aiming control. The console versions understandably rely on auto-aim to make up for a gamepad's relative lack of precision, though you can still aim manually in the console versions of the game, which is required for doing things like blowing up explosive barrels to take out a cluster of troops at once.
The console versions of the game all contain a four-player multiplayer mode. Though it isn't really a main focus of the game, the multiplayer mode is basically a version of king of the hill, where one team must hoist their flag and hold the position until a time limit has been reached. The PC version doesn't have this mode, but it isn't strong enough to really be missed. The ability to play the game's outstanding single-player campaign cooperatively, online or off, would have been a much more meaningful multiplayer addition.
Graphics is another area that varies from platform to platform, but again, each version looks pretty fantastic when compared to other similar titles on each system. The models look and move well, the game keeps a pretty solid frame rate throughout, and the environments are realistically urban, giving the game a nice New York City feel. Weapon fire, lighting, and most other effects look appropriately dramatic. As you'd expect, the PC version offers the greatest graphical performance, especially when running at 1600x1200 or higher with the draw distance set as far as it will go. By comparison, the console versions aren't quite as sharp, though the Xbox version's visuals outpace the GameCube and PS2 equivalents. The GameCube version also occasionally shows seams between its polygons, which makes it look slightly worse than the others, though still great in its own right. The graphics do have a bit of an impact on gameplay--it's more difficult to see troops at a distance on the console versions than it is on the PC. When you're trying to gun down an entire squad from a machine gun turret, you can't do any zooming in, so it's easier to miss a target or two.
The sound in Freedom Fighters is really terrific. With only a couple of exceptions, the voice work is well done. The Russian soldiers sound appropriately menacing and communicate with each other in their native language. The sounds of combat, especially when you're working with a large squad, are of particular note, as they really make you feel like you're on a battlefield. The game's music, filled with choral vocals reminiscent of the Soviet national anthem, is also a stellar high point, and it adds a perfect level of drama to the proceedings.
While the game could have been lengthier, Freedom Fighters is still just an outstanding blend of pure action and tactical squad combat. The squad control works incredibly well, making it easy even if you haven't had much experience with squad-based games in the past. Anyone looking for thrilling action with refined control and a great premise need look no further than Freedom Fighters.