Freedom Fighters Hands-On Impressions

We go hands-on with a new build of Io Interactive's squad-based shooter.


We recently had the chance to try out a few levels from a new build of Electronic Arts' and Io Interactive's Freedom Fighters, a squad-based shooter set in an alternate-reality New York City in which the Soviet Union has invaded the United States. You take on the role of Christopher Stone, a plumber who makes his way to an apartment in New York along with his brother to fix some leaky pipes. Coincidentally, this apartment belongs to the leader of a strong anti-Soviet group. When the two enter the apartment, they search around only to find that it's been completely deserted. Seconds later, gunshots and the whirl of helicopters fill the air as a group of Soviet soldiers come busting through the apartment. Thinking that the two plumbers are linked to the anti-Soviet group somehow, Christopher's brother is captured, interrogated, and taken away--but Christopher manages to avoid detection.

When the game starts, Christopher is only equipped with a plumbing wrench that he must first use to knock out a Soviet soldier guarding a group of people that have been placed under arrest. Once you've accomplished this task, one of the tenants in the building asks you to race to the roof where you'll see Christopher's brother being whisked away by a helicopter. In this same area, you'll get a general idea of how to use weapons, such as the pistol. There is some auto-targeting involved, but you need to be relatively close to an enemy for better accuracy. Fortunately, the game offers a manual targeting solution that, when executed, forces the camera into an over-the-shoulder view, allowing you to make precision shots. The same system applies to thrown weapons such as the Molotov cocktail found later in the same level--though in these cases, the strength of your throw is determined by how long you let a meter at the bottom of the screen charge before releasing the corresponding button.

In this same level, the game will familiarize you with some of Christopher's basic skills. Not only can he jump and climb up certain objects in the environment, but he can also go into a crouching mode that essentially functions as a way to make Christopher a little less conspicuous. This particular ability becomes incredibly useful in one of the next levels where you're charged with infiltrating the New York City police department that is heavily guarded by Soviet troops.

Instead of taking these troops head on, you'll have to use various objects in the environment to your advantage so that you're not spotted. For example, when approaching the police station, you'll have to slink behind a series of cars that are conveniently placed in front of the entrance to the parking garage of the station. If you do it properly, you won't be spotted by a single guard, but if they do happen to stop you, then they'll open fire immediately--even if you try to run, they'll track you down. The same sort of technique has to be used throughout almost the entire level, since there are usually six or seven heavily armed guards in every area.

Using the environment seems to be a key aspect of Freedom Fighter's gameplay mechanics. Even in situations where you absolutely have to confront a large group of soldiers, there seem to be plenty of barriers or even walls to hide behind or at least use as partial cover so that the Soviet soldiers have to move around in the open to get a clear shot at Christopher. Thankfully, weapons and ammunition are plentiful in the early levels, so you don't necessarily have to worry about running into this type of situation with no means to fight other than Christopher's wrench.

The inventory system has been kept relatively simple. When you access it, you'll be presented with a wheel that shows all of the items in your inventory--all you have to do is press a direction on the controller corresponding to the placement of the item in the inventory and it will automatically be equipped.

We have yet to experience the squad-based portion of the game in this particular build, but you can expect additional coverage on that and other features in the game soon. Freedom Fighters is in development for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and PC, and it's scheduled for release in September. Check out more information on Freedom Fighters by looking at our previous coverage of the game.


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