Saturday, 15 October 2011

Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich: Game Design Review

Released about 3 years after the original Freedom Force, Freedom Force vs The Third Reich is a direct sequel to Freedom force.

Freedom Force 3rd Reich is basically Freedom Force except with a new storyline. Which I think is a real shame. I loved the original Freedom Force and I definitely love this one. But rather expanding on the gameplay, the creators have only created new missions and a couple of new characters. The entire game feels too much like an extended storyline and a couple of new characters thrown in rather than any substantial improvements or mechanics.

From a gameplay mechanics and usability perspective, the Freedom Force series nails everything about a superhero game should nail:
  • You have a team of 4 super heroes with various powers and abilities with all sorts of super hero abilities.
  • All stats and bonuses and attacks are labelled very clearly breaking down you exactly all the information you need about each attack for example, that the attack is ranged attack, takes 2 seconds to complete and does energy damage in addition to normal damage for example and will deal 7 damage to the opponent.
  • When you hold down right over an enemy or terrain you are given a list of possible actions your currently selected Hero can perform
  • A very fun physics engine - You can pick up lamp posts and cars and debris and hurl them at enemies and damage buildings. Some attacks even allow you to hurl enemies upwards or away with great force which is great for deal additional damage when they land.
  • Levelling up is similarly quite easy and straightforward, you level up the previous skill up to level 3, and then you can purchase. Although the upgrade path is linear and you can't alter the superheroes, you can create your character using existing characters models or your own character modesl with all the powers available to you to give to the characeter. This custom character can be quite expensive or cheap depending on many powers or weaknesses you give him or her.
  • There are battle rooms and challenges.
Unfortunately, what I am critical off is the lack of anything truly new or innovate. I thought a sequel would at least mix things up a bit and give some additional ideas in the game. But no, it's a linear campaign from start to finish.

What features could they have included in Freedom Force and the 3rd Reich?
  • A world map maybe with optional quests or storyline to unlock and optional missions depending on your choices in the campaign.
  • Increasing squad size from 4 to 6 maybe?
  • Group move where everyone moves togehter as a group and the same speed hasn't been implemented. Faster characters will travel towards enemies and get that before slower characters.
  • Synergy and bonuses - For example Man O' War and Sea Urchin are a team, so why not have some sort of synergy bonus when you use them in the same mission?
  • Simultaneous attacks - Combo attacks like the ones seen in Chrono Trigger where both characters combine their powers would be cool.
  • More time puzzles or missions? One of my most favourite missions in the game was a time puzzle where your actions in the present would affect the past. Considering the screwing up of time/space/reality was a big part of this game, they could have made even more missions like this. Maybe even have it so that you can play both teams at the same time! For example Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo gave you several time periods to travel in freely and your actions in the past could actually change the future!
  • More character options to customise the appearance of your custom characters? You can use existing models but some sort of better customisation utility would have been nice.
  • New Game+ Start the game again except with the stats of your Heroes already at the same level as they were in your old game.
  • Needs more new enemies - There aren't that many new ones.
  • More vehicles - You do get to control the tank for a while. Would be nice to control some sort of Freedom mobile or something or be able to hijack more stuff.
It's more of the same which is a good thing. It hits all the right notes and is still one of the best superhero themed squad based games especially with the custom character option but I am disappointed that a game which came 3 years after originally hasn't matured at all.

It's now available in a collection with the original Freedom Force so do buy it in a collection and play them back to back. If you love squad-based tactical games and superheroes, buy the Freedom Force Collection which contains both games. Now available on various platforms. It won't disappoint.

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