Start with a great premise. Mix with tight controls and add beautiful graphics. The end result? Freedom Fighters.

User Rating: 9.5 | Freedom Fighters PS2
Freedom Fighters fills a great void in the Playstation 2's library of games. A great squad-based action game with good controls, intelligent AI, an original premise and all around great production values. The game takes place in an alternate reality, one where instead of crumbling to pieces, the Soviet Union finds itself the lone superpower in the world. That of course means it's time to invade the US. Caught in between is a plumber by the name of Chris Stone, who tries to save his brother Troy and knock down the commies a peg or two in the process. All in all, the plot is deliciously unbelievable, which gives it that 50's Red Threat charm. Also, it helps Freedom Fighters stand out, although for an action shooter on the PS2, that shouldn't be a problem.

Freedom Fighters is an excellent third-person shooter, thanks to fluid and responsive controls, a neat squad system and a helpful inventory. Shooting is either done from the hip, or by aiming down the sight, which results in a nice zoom-in effect for better aiming. After you get the hang of the controls, you will slowly gain charisma (by completing missions, rescuing prisoners and healing civilians) and be able to recruit new members to help you out. You only start with two, but at the end of the game you will be in control of a 12-man guerilla squad, laying waste to any Reds in your path to freedom. Not only does this make for larger firefights, it also means more fun, as controlling your own squad gives the game some much needed strategy. Squads are handled using three buttons. Recall tells the grunts to fall back behind you, the attack buttons can be used to target a specific enemy or have your men attack an entire area and defend orders your men to stand their ground and hold position. You can issue orders to just a single soldier by pressing one of the three buttons, or the whole squad by keeping it pressed in for a moment. It all feels very intuitive, and you will get the basics down easily enough. The inventory can be stacked with items like grenades, molotov cocktails, explosives, binoculars and healthpacks that can be used to restore your own, buddies or civilians health. You can also carry one primary weapon and one secondary weapon.

The game also features a nice multiplayer feature for up to four players locally. While it clealry wasn't the focus of the developers, it still manages to be challenging and fun. The only mode featured is King of the Hill, in which players need to control a certain point and hold it for a set amount of time. While not nearly as good as the single player portion, the multiplayer manages to stretch out the game a bit longer.

Graphically the game is also a gem. The draw distance is respectable in the PS2 version, and it manages to maintain a fairly solid framerate even when things get a little hectic. The game also features some nice lighting and effects, and the city of New York feels like it's real life counterpart.

Sound is another high point for the game. With an appropriately menacing soundtrack featuring choral vocals that draw heavily from the Soviet anthem, enemy troops that speak in their native tongue and weapon and explosion sounds that rattle the gut, the game manages to draw you in and make you feel as you really are a part of the battles that rage throughout. Voice acting is also good and appropriately cheesy for the story.

When all is said and done, Freedom Fighters may be a short ride, but it is still a sweet one at that. The controls are refined and spot-on, meaning even new comers can enjoy the strategic combat FF offers. With an original and fun premise, short but great singleplayer and barebones but fun multiplayer, Freedom Fighters is easy to recommend to fans of action games.