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Capes and Spandex
If the Silver Age of Comic Books starring mutated super humans and super villains wearing all manner of capes and spandex is your thing, then you should try Freedom Force vs The Third Reich from Irrational Games.
The sequel to the 2002 game Freedom Force sees our heroes – lead by The Minuteman – take on the might of a time travelling Third Reich in a series of running battles across imaginative levels littered with plot twists and in-jokes.
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As a real time tactical RPG, Freedom Force vs The Third Reich builds upon the success of the well-regarded original with a new gaming engine and new powers for the heroes, who are joined by new wartime comrades in arms.
If you’ve played the original, approaching combat with the forces of The Third Reich – represented by the axis powers of the German Blitzkrieg, the Italian Fortissimo and the Japanese Redsun – will require new tactics and different team selection. The original Freedom Force could easily be completed by selecting the same 4 heroes for most missions, leaving many of the weaker characters sidelined.
Given the quality of the characterisation across all characters – from design to voice acting – this was the original games one disappointment.
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(Old) New Heroes
Freedom Force vs The Third Reich doesn’t suffer similarly, thankfully, and forces the player to make very hard decisions and engage in combat in new and interesting ways as the game progresses.
Adding to the Freedom Force roster of heroes are the wartime trio of cockney Blackjack, French-accented Tricolour and the “Rocketman”-inspired Skyking, while deathly Tombstone enters the fray in the present day.
The improved player interface and control over the real-time combat is what makes Freedom Force vs The Third Reich as special as it is. Attack options range from massive localised destruction down to simple slaps across the cheek, and these are controlled via a simple point and click interface centred on clearly marked individual character profiles in the bottom left corner of the screen. Default options are customisable, allowing you to set the most powerful attack as characters default reaction – however with Health and Energy (which determines which powers can be selected) to keep an eye on, such a tactic would be very risky indeed.
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Bonuses scatter the various landscapes – from cityscape to underground lairs, ice-covered Cuban villages to insane mystical worlds – and these can be used to recruit more heroes (via the Prestige bonus) to Freedom Force, replenish low Health or Energy or even add to the hero points already earned.
These points can be used to improve your Freedom Force members’ powers during the game, and make choosing the right attack a vital step in securing completion of Freedom Force vs The Third Reich.
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Similar in many ways to the MMORPG City of Heroes/Villains, Freedom Force vs The Third Reich builds on the quality of the first adventure with more of the same friendly pastiching of 1960s Marvel and DC comic books, good voice acting, excellent design and addictive gameplay.
If multiplayer is your thing, a huge community of insanely loyal fans exists online, producing new meshes and missions, modding tools and meeting up for multiplayer action. Online communities include:
Meanwhile, Freedom Force and Freedom Force vs The Third Reich are both available via Steam - visit store.steampowered.com.
While a bit of an underground hit (like its prequel) Freedom Force vs The Third Reich is nevertheless a superb game and complete value for money.