Thursday, July 25, 2024

Rest or Reset: Freedom Force.

( In “Rest or Reset,” we look at games and franchises that have either ended or have been dormant but not officially ended. We’re starting off with Irrational Games’ 2002 release Freedom Force.

The late 90s and early 2000s was a magical time for PC gaming development where ideas can be floated out there and a video game could very well be made off of it. The same goes for features: PC was flexible enough for the creation and advancement of many genres.

Real-Time Strategy and Roleplaying Games? What a Combo!

So, when Irrational Games dropped Freedom Force, it wasn’t too unusual. It’s a real-time strategy game with RPG elements and those are two genres that really had a place on PC at the time. Even today, RTS games gets love as it’s a throwback to another time in PC gaming history while also being pliable enough for new features, stories, and settings.

Now, with that said, it’s not a genre that is just pumping out smash hits like first-person shooters, action games, RPGs, and casual stuff. “What about RPGs?” Everything has levels and experience points to it now. RPGs really moved gaming forward as far as longevity of titles goes. With the RPG element, you have progress that can be tracked and gamers like progress.

Rest or Reset - Freedom Force - game.

Let’s Get Back to Freedom Force

FF which stood out as one of a few superhero games from the period that didn’t suck. It’s also one of the few superhero RTS games and RPGs in general. It’s a setting that tends to stick to the action genre.

What works about this game isn’t even the gameplay. I mean, the gameplay is solid, it’s pretty much along the lines of your basic RTS mechanics and progression. It doesn’t really reinvent the wheel and the RPG element adds to it.

The juice here is the Golden Age of Comics approach to the setting. Freedom Force takes place in the 1950s during the Cold War and focuses on protecting the U.S from a Soviet threat. It’s pretty much a 1950s storyline only with characters made for the game. There’s no Marvel or DC here but the archetypes common with both powerhouses’ characters are here and in abundance.

With that said, the storyline and characters won’t get you immersed in the world of Freedom Force or anything. It’s more like these are fun characters and this is an interesting setting combined with solid gameplay. It’s the kind of game that you’ll at least attempt to finish but once you do, you wouldn’t be blamed for forgetting about it weeks later.

I remember the game because I really enjoy building up and customizing characters, something FF allows players to do. Also, the progression of the story and the characters’ origin stories are all touches that I really dig.

What Happened with the Series?

FF got a lot of love when it came out. Again, it’s 2002, most RTS games had a sci-fi, fantasy, historical, or military approach to them. Freedom Force was something new on the outside while being very familiar on the inside. It was a good package.

It was received well enough to warrant a second game: Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich. In that game, the Freedom Force team goes back in time to fight the Third Reich and their super humans after the timeline is messed up and the Axis Powers win World War II.

Even that title got positive reception. However, it wasn’t enough to keep the franchise going as Irrational Games had turned its attention towards the SWAT 4 games before throwing its full focus into the first two Bioshock games.

Rest or Reset

I’d say that Freedom Force is worth a reset. Studios such as Interplay, Black Isle Studios, or Harebrained Schemes could really revive this franchise after 18 years of being in the grave. While the world of FF won’t immerse you, it never really had the chance to flesh out characters and bring the characters into modern times.

Freedom Force definitely has some creative potential in it and while that isn’t enough to warrant reviving a franchise, it would be a good franchise to have in a smaller developers A-deck or something for larger developers to offer for fans that crave that kind of gameplay.

If you’ve played Freedom Force what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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