Freedom: First Resistance Review

If the disappointing gameplay and the graphics and sound somehow aren't enough to turn you off to the game, Freedom has lots of smaller problems as well.

Based on Anne McCaffrey's near-future alien invasion novels, Freedom: First Resistance is billed as an action-adventure game. To paraphrase Nelson from The Simpsons talking about the movie Naked Lunch, "I can think of at least two things wrong with that description." Freedom's total lack of action is complemented by a complete absence of adventure, leaving only bland graphics and a general sense of tedium to fill the giant void that exists between installing the game and finishing it.

It's possible that the word "action" was used to describe Freedom because you control the characters in real time from a third-person perspective, as in Tomb Raider. If so, point taken. Unfortunately, that's the only extent to which the actual meaning of the word "action" could apply to the game. It's true that Freedom has a lot of combat sequences, but it also has perhaps the worst fighting system of any game this year. Unarmed combat is a matter of pointing your character in the general direction of an enemy and then pounding the attack key as fast as possible so that your character keeps swinging. The timing between attacks - both yours and those of your enemies - is inconsistent. Winning or losing often simply seems like a matter of luck.

Armed combat is just as bad. There is no targeting reticle. You turn your body more or less toward an enemy, at which point the game aims for you and waits for you to pull the trigger. Once you start shooting, you just keep pressing the shoot button until either you or your opponent dies. In general, the game's combat is clumsy, simple, and arbitrary, all of which contribute to making it thoroughly and completely unsatisfying. The uniformly bland animation doesn't make it any better, either.

The adventure portion of Freedom consists of wandering around its big, dark levels while looking for keys. Instead of thinking up some new types of brainteasers or even attempting to cleverly disguise the key hunts, the developers have simply concocted really elaborate unlocking puzzles. Freedom contains some of the most baroque locks ever devised by humankind - or alien, in this case. In some missions, you control up to three characters at once, and you can switch between them at will. This feature has little effect on gameplay other than to permit the inclusion of locks that can be bypassed by only three people standing in the correct positions.

The visuals are rendered with a modified version of Red Storm's Rogue Spear engine. The resulting environments are uniformly dark, bland, and lifeless. The levels seem deserted, and they lack any real detail or opportunities for interaction. This might not be such a problem in a game that gives your character a lot more things to do, but when the main goal is to thoroughly explore the world, the environments had better be at least mildly interesting. Recent games such as Deus Ex, Omikron, and Urban Chaos have collectively set a high standard for depicting modern or futuristic 3D cityscapes in games - a standard that Freedom fails to live up to. The almost complete absence of any ambient sound effects makes the game's environments even less convincing.

You could probably make a case that the plot - aliens having invaded Earth and most humans imprisoned in camps - justifies the barren levels. But that doesn't render the levels any less boring; it just makes them appropriate to the story and boring.

If the disappointing gameplay and the graphics and sound somehow aren't enough to turn you off to the game, Freedom has lots of smaller problems as well. For instance, you're represented on the map screen with an arrow that's clearly pointed in a direction - just not the direction you're actually facing. You can save the game at any time. If any of your characters dies, you lose the mission. You're then forced to watch the character's corpse for five or six seconds, during which time you can't press the quick-load key. The game then loads a map screen for ten or 15 seconds. At the map screen, you can restart the level from scratch, but you still can't reload your saved game. To restore your last quick save, you have to quit entirely back to the main menu (which requires a confirmation dialog and another several seconds of loading) and load it from there. This system is so counterintuitive that it's utterly inexplicable. However, it is guaranteed to drive you crazy by the second or third level.

Freedom manages to suck the fun out of two different genres. There's plenty of plot development in the game, all of which unfolds through spoken dialog. But, honestly, if you're looking for plot, you have the original books to fall back on. Because it has neither good action elements nor memorable adventure sequences to recommend it, Freedom simply can't succeed on whatever merits might be found in its story.

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Freedom: First Resistance More Info

  • First Released Dec 14, 2000
    • PC
    If the disappointing gameplay and the graphics and sound somehow aren't enough to turn you off to the game, Freedom has lots of smaller problems as well.
    Average Rating32 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Red Storm Entertainment
    Published by:
    Red Storm Entertainment
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.