Reviewed on Xbox

Freedom Fighters

Reviewed By: Phil Rownd a.k.a. Boyward

Computer Platform: Xbox, PC, Gamecube, PS2
Produced by: IO Interactive / EA Games
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Overall Rating:
Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 3 of 5
   (some objectionable elements)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 2 of 5
Adult Content: 4 of 5
   (barely present)

Freedom Fighters.  Illustration copyrighted.

What if the Soviet Union had dropped a nuclear bomb on Berlin to end World War 2, and gained sole control over the rebuilding of the European continent? And what if their Communist power eventually extended into every corner of the globe with the exception of North America? Chris, a Manhattan plumber, refuses to believe that his country could fall to a Soviet invasion. But on a clear summer morning, Soviet soldiers kidnap Chris' brother, an attack helicopter chainguns a client's apartment, and Chris trades his plumber's wrench for a captured Soviet pistol. The Battle for Liberty Island has begun.

       In a refreshing twist on the action genre, you don't start out as the cliched "chosen one". You're a plumber, and nobody wants to fight with you. But by accomplishing certain tasks Chris gains “charisma points” which enable him to recruit up to 12 freedom fighters for his team. Rather than pausing gameplay to command your squad, as in Brute Force, IO Interactive has made it simple for you to give orders on the fly. Your freedom fighters are intelligent, effective, and as you gain their trust they will do whatever you tell them to do. Enemy AI also shows some intelligence: hiding when under fire, scaling walls to get at you when they sense an advantage. Impressive, especially on the higher difficulty levels.

     The Soviets are using Manhattan's various locales (Post Office, Fire Station, etc.) to back their invasion. Your mission is to raise the American flag over these strongholds. When the New Yorkers see their flag flying over a Soviet base their patriotism will increase and they will join the resistance. Secondary objectives are equally important to your success. For example, the Movie Theater has been converted into a media center for Soviet propaganda. You need to stop the Communist lies, but there's a pesky attack helicopter patrolling the area. Intelligence reports indicate the Soviets are using the Manhattan Docks to refuel their helicopters. Go to the Docks, blow up the chopper's fuel supply and the Movie Theater is looking at clear skies. What you do in one area affects your situation across town and requires a certain amount of strategy from you as you decide what you need to do first: cut the power, eliminate troop helicopters, free captured allies, etc.

     The destruction to Manhattan and the chaos in the streets makes the environments come alive, as if you truly have been dropped into war-torn New York City. It's eerily reminiscent of footage taken on the streets of NY during the September 11 terrorist attacks, only this time the threat has permeated every corner of the city. Fire escapes collapse under your weight, buildings topple and crush cars, smoke fills the air, and crashed helicopters smolder in their craters. Most of the destruction is scripted, but much of it is caused by you as you detonate C4 over bridges, gas stations, and helicopter landing pads. The game spans three seasons: summer, fall, and winter, and the environments change appropriately. All of the nicely-modeled characters bundle up when it gets cold outside. Chris himself has 5 outfits throughout the game, ranging from his plumber's uniform, to a ski-mask for sniping, to layers of heavy winter clothing. The characters animate well, although late r in the game when you're commanding 8-12 freedom fighters they tend to get climb out of trenches single file, which looks a little ridiculous. Early in the game there's some problem with seams not lining up, but other than that, IO's attention to detail and atmosphere is fantastic.

Freedom Fighters

     Freedom Fighters has all of the normal war-game sounds: gunfire, explosions, etc. Yet it carves for itself a certain uniqueness by fleshing out the premise that you're a New Yorker fighting Soviets in Manhattan. All of the Americans have the New York accent. The Soviets shout in Russian. And all of this happens to a powerful Russian-themed soundtrack sung by the Hungarian Radio Choir. Authentic and excellent.

     For a twelve-hour game, Freedom Fighters is oddly satisfying. There are four difficulties: the easier ones let you run-and-gun, while the harder ones force you to think and use your troops effectively. So you could say that Freedom Fighters is two games in one, but that's pushing it. Finishing the game on any given difficulty unlocks all missions for that difficulty level. That's it. For the console versions there is a multiplayer mode that seems like an afterthought.

     You can snipe Soviet soldiers in the head, smack them upside the head with your plumber's wrench, and blow up their trucks and tanks. The fact that this is “a time to kill” (Ecclesiastes 3:3) puts the violence in perspective, however. There is absolutely no blood whatsoever, nor is there any gore, even when you hit a Soviet with a rocket.

     One use of the d-word. Four uses of the four letter c-word.

Freedom Fighters

     The most glaring instance comes in a comment from Chris's brother, who excitedly confesses that he'd like to: “check out the plumbing on that Isabella chick.” A female newscaster wears a somewhat revealing top. So does Isabella at the beginning of the game, but that's understandable since she's fighting in the summer heat. By autumn she's bundled up.

     Freedom Fighters teaches us that you don't really appreciate the freedoms you have until they're taken away from you. Players can help wounded civilians and rebels by sacrificing their own med kits.


                  Freedom Fighters drops us into a believable story, throws a couple of pretty intense plot twists at us halfway through, and gives us a great-playing and satisfying squad-based action game. To the same degree that Brute Force was a letdown, Freedom Fighters is a nice surprise. It's a very, very nice surprise for cautious gamers who don't want their action served with generous portions of blood and guts.

Year of Release—2003

Positive—Amazing game. At the beginning there are minor cuss words if I remember right. But the amazing graphics make up for that. An awesome story and an amazing experience. But (be warned) at the very beginning there is a line of lust. My Ratings: [3 / 5]
   —N/A, age 13

Positive—When I first played the game I was so amazed how cool it was. its still a awesome game but after you beat it gets a little boring. Its a great muitiplayer game with your friends. There is no blood gore and just a tad bit of language. The good thing about the game is it shows what people will do for there country when the U.S.S.R. attacks America. The game is rather long, and when you think it is the last level it is'int. Overall the game is great with a lot of patriotism. My Ratings: [5 / 5]
   —Ricky, age 14

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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