Freedom Fighters (video game)
North American cover art for Windows
IO Interactive (PS2) (EU)
Nintendo optical disc
Freedom Fighters, originally titled Freedom: The Battle For Liberty Island, is a 2003 third-person shooter video game available for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by IO Interactive, using a modified version of the Hitman 2: Silent Assassin game engine, and published by Electronic Arts. The BAFTA-award winning composer Jesper Kyd (who also wrote the score to IO Interactive's Hitman video games) wrote the music. The scriptwriter was Morten Iversen (who also wrote scripts for the Hitman franchise).
The game is set in an alternate history where the Soviet Union wins the Cold War and has invaded and occupied New York City. The player takes the role of Christopher Stone, a plumber-turned American Resistance movement leader fighting against the invaders.
Freedom Fighters is third-person shooter, in which the player navigates through the streets of New York while fighting the Soviet forces. The game also contains squad-based elements, having a charisma meter. The player gains charisma by performing heroic deeds in the resistance movement against the invading forces, like capturing a base or destroying vital supplies. The more charisma that is gained, the more squad mates the character can recruit, including leaderless guerrillas and wounded Russian soldiers, up to a maximum of twelve.
Freedom Fighters uses a simple method of controlling recruits in battle. In the game, the player can command recruits by giving them simple orders such as "follow," "attack," and "defend," but in most situations, they take care of themselves. Given the terrain of New York City after the initial invasion, the Resistance usually stations its soldiers in covered positions like craters and buildings.
Multiplayer revolves around securing flags and bunkers. The flag that a player needs to capture and hold is usually in the center of the map. Bunkers are positioned around the map, and spawn either Soviet soldiers or American freedom fighters. Players can know who the bunkers belong to because of a star above each one; a Soviet bunker is marked by a red star, while an American bunker is marked by a blue star. In each game, there can be up to four players, who can choose between the Soviet and American sides. Each side has a different set of weapons. The players can switch weapons in battle. In each map, there are several areas where weapons and ammunition are stored. Each bunker also has one medical kit and one ammunition can, so every bunker is vitally important. Each player also has their charisma meter set to eight, so each player can have a maximum of eight soldiers under their command; however, if it is a four-player battle, each player can control a maximum of four soldiers. The players can select a map to fight in: Greenwich Village, where there are four bunkers surrounding the flag; Brooklyn Rooftops, with four adjacent bunkers with the flag between the middle two bunkers on a building; and Fort Jay, a night time scene with four bunkers at the edge of the map with the flag in the middle. The PC version does not have multi-player support.
The Soviet Union became the world superpower by dropping the first atomic bomb on Berlin and ending World War II, thereby propping up communist states throughout the globe which begin to surround the U.S in the present day. New York plumbing brothers Chris and Troy Stone travel to meet with their next client, an activist named Isabella Angelina. The Stones appear at her home only to find it abandoned. The Soviet Union launches a surprise invasion of New York City and suddenly Soviet soldiers led by General Tatarin seize Troy. Amidst the attack Chris escapes to the streets, encountering a man named Mr. Jones and resistance member Phil Bagzton. After rescuing Isabella from a police station and Troy from a post office, the group retreat to the sewers and set up a base of operations as New York is lost.
Months later, Chris, Phil, and Isabella sabotage key Soviet facilities and reclaim areas within the city, building up a resistance group of New York citizens and disillusioned Soviet soldiers. Delivering serious damage to the Soviets, Chris becomes known as the "Freedom Phantom" within the Soviet-controlled media, SAFN. Later, Troy is captured by Soviet troops and tortured for information. Forced into issuing a public statement aimed at the resistance to cease their actions, he breaks from the prepared text and urges Chris to continue fighting. In response, General Tatarin has Troy taken to Fort Jay and executes him personally. Mr. Jones suggests assassinating Tatarin in retaliation and Chris succeeds, only to return to find Isabella missing and the resistance base occupied by the Soviet army. The operation was orchestrated by Mr. Jones who reveals himself to be KGB agent Colonel Bulba, as he explains this as his source of information. Betrayed, Chris escapes with Phil and others to a new underground area while SAFN reports on the death of Tatarin, Colonel Bulba's promotion to General and the end of the resistance in New York.
During the winter, Chris leads the resistance deeper into occupied New York, culminating with a major raid on SAFN Studios. He uses the station to send a broadcast encouraging the city and beyond to rise up and bring an end to the Soviet occupation. A final assault on Governor's Island consisting of massed resistance forces is planned. After capturing Fort Jay and rescuing Isabella, New York is liberated for the time being as Chris and the group solemnly celebrate their victory. Chris knows the Soviets will not give up the occupied United States easily, but resolves to fight on as long as is necessary.
- Christopher Stone AKA "The Freedom Phantom" - The main protagonist and Co-leader of the Manhattan Resistance. Brooklyn born and raised, Chris was a plumber before the Soviet invasion of the USA. He did not believe his brother's anti-communist rantings, nor did he take any interest in the signs that a long-planned Soviet invasion was imminent. Chris escapes the forces of the Red Army and General Tatarin, going underground on the first day of the occupation. He goes on to become a famed- and infamous- leader of the New York resistance, called "The Freedom Phantom" first by the Soviets and later by both sides of the fighting.
- Isabella Angelina - Co-leader of the Manhattan Resistance. Prior to the invasion Isabella was a political activist, leader of the "Warning Against Reds" movement. She becomes a prominent leader in the New York resistance and plays a key role in its liberation from the Soviets.
- Troy Stone - Manhattan Resistance member, brother of Chris Stone. Troy, formerly a plumber alongside his brother, is captured by General Tatarin as the Soviets invade. Rescued days later in a resistance raid on an occupied post office, Troy joins the resistance but soon leaves New York City, planning to find and aid resistance movements elsewhere. Captured again during a Soviet raid, Troy is forced to read a prepared statement, asking Chris and the resistance to surrender. As he is being led away, however, Troy abruptly commandeers the podium to make a short but far more sincere speech, yelling defiantly for his brother to never give up the fight. Furious with his actions, the Soviets take Troy to Governor's Island, where he is personally executed by General Tatarin. Troy faces his end bravely, never once betraying his brother or the resistance.
- Mr. Jones - Manhattan Resistance military and intelligence advisor. Too old to be effective in combat, Mr. Jones aids the resistance as an intelligence expert, directing many of its operations early on. It is not known exactly what he did prior to the Soviet invasion, nor is it known where he gets all the information he has. He is later revealed to be an undercover Soviet colonel who intends to use the resistance as a means to take full command of the Soviet Occupation Force in New York by assassinating his superior, General Tatarin.
- Colonel Bulba - Head of KGB in New York City, Bulba infiltrates the New York resistance on the day of its formation, posing as "Mr. Jones". He decides against destroying the resistance immediately, instead deliberately aiding it and even directing Chris to kill Bulba's superior, General Tatarin. A triumphant Bulba reveals his true identity to Chris afterward, and upon his promotion to general vows to hunt down Chris and the remaining resistance members "like sewer rats". He does not appear during the assault on Fort Jay, however, and his status and location are unknown at the game's end.
- Phil Bagzton - Manhattan Resistance munitions expert. Phil joins the New York resistance on the day of the Soviet invasion, having been rescued by Chris and Mr. Jones after being shot by Red Army soldiers. He quickly proves to be little more than a cowardly braggart, constantly boasting but almost never seeing actual combat. Despite this, however, Phil is dedicated to the resistance and never betrays or abandons it, being one of those fortunate enough to escape with Chris when Colonel Bulba attacks resistance headquarters.
- The Kid - Manhattan Resistance supporter, deals with information, logistics, and putting messages of freedom on walls with graffiti, having little else to do since his boarding school was shut down by the Soviets. He provides a valuable service to the resistance by stealing a Soviet computer containing the floor plans of the SAFN studios building. This culminates in the resistance raid and takeover of the building, which allows the resistance to gain more widespread support.
- General Vasillj Tatarin - Commander of the Soviet Occupation Force in the US and the primary antagonist until his death. Born in 1958 in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, General Tatarin is a field warrior, hailing from a long line of soldiers. Tatarin is a highly skilled and accomplished soldier, the subject of great loyalty and respect from the men under his command. He is as brutal as he is charismatic, personally executing Troy Stone when he refuses to cooperate with Soviet demands. When Tatarin is assassinated by Chris in retaliation, Tatarin is buried with full military honors, becoming a martyr to the Red Army forces he once led. His death becomes a cause célèbre for Soviet forces in their war against the resistance.
- Tatiana Kempinski - Soviet propaganda newscaster. Educated partly in the United States, spending several years there prior to the invasion, but as staunch a follower of the Soviet cause as anyone. Kempinski is a news anchor at the Soviet Armed Forces Network (SAFN) studios in New York City, regularly broadcasting what the Soviet government wants the people of New York to know. She is not seen during the resistance assault on SAFN studios and, like Colonel Bulba, her whereabouts are completely unknown at the end of the game.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2013)|
The Freedom Fighters original soundtrack was composed by Jesper Kyd and released on September 29, 2003 by Sumthing Else and Nano Studios. It was GameSpot's "Best Game Soundtrack of the Year 2003" and Game Reactor's "Best Game Music of the Year". Tracks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 14 and 16 are performed by the Hungarian Radio Choir. The music has grand, Soviet-style, choral arrangements and the synth parts bring Vangelis to mind, indeed one reviewer referred to it as "Vangelis on steroids".
Kyd describes his thinking behind the score:
|“||I researched Russian music scales and specifically what makes Russian music so unique. The history of the Soviet Union and the Cold War conflict were also major contributing influences.
Not many people know this but I wrote the Freedom Fighters score in Manhattan right after 9/11. It was quite a strange time writing music for a story about a foreign power invading Manhattan.
I spent a lot of my time just playing the game to get a real, in-depth sense of the experiences that I needed to dramatize. I probably spent way too much time playing the game, but I just loved the fact that you could become a freedom fighter and help free New York City from an invading army.
|Track listing (60:05)|
|2.||"Invasion of the Empire"||0:56|
|3.||"March of the Empire"||5:12|
|4.||"Isabella - Leader of the Resistance"||4:47|
|5.||"Betrayal at Rebel Base"||1:53|
|6.||"The Battle For Freedom"||4:07|
|8.||"Flag of Freedom"||1:03|
|10.||"Choir of Liberty"||0:37|
|17.||"Zero Hour (Bonus Track)"||4:36|
|18.||"Flag of Freedom (Original Version)"||2:04|
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Freedom Fighters received a score of 7.5/8 from Electronic Gaming Monthly: the first reviewer, Joe Fielder, called the game's core gameplay mechanic "damn fun to play", but criticized its cutscenes and said that "you come away from Freedom Fighters wanting more. Just when the game really hits its stride, it's over—and neither playing its under utilized multiplayer mode nor beginning the whole affair over again on a harder difficulty setting will quite satisfy your need". The second reviewer, Shawn Elliott, called it "easily one of the best all-out action games I've played all year".
On April 6, 2004 Eidos UK revealed plans for the sequel. Eidos announced it would distribute the sequel in the first half of its financial year 2006, which would mean the latter part of 2005. However IO Interactive announced development of a new intellectual property, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, casting the future of a Freedom Fighters sequel in doubt. In late 2007 a representative of IO said in an interview about the upcoming Kane & Lynch: Dead Men that a sequel for Freedom Fighters was still on the company's 'to-do' list. In 2009, GamesRadar included it among the games "with untapped franchise potential", commenting: "The reality of it is that this is a squad-based third person shooter that was tragically under appreciated in its day. We’ve been hearing about a rumored sequel since 2004 – it’s time to pull the trigger."
- Gertsman, Jeff. "Freedom Fighters Review". Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "SoundtrackNet: Freedom Fighters Soundtrack".
- "Music 4 Games - The Future of Rock n' Roll & Interactive Entertainment. Est. 1999".
- "5/10/04: CD Reviews Lovely To Look At and Freedom Fighters".
- "Music to Kill For; Jesper Kyd Interview".
- Fielder, Joe; Elliott, Shawn; Intihar, Bryan (October 1, 2003). "You say you want a revolution?". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Archived from the original on April 5, 2004. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- "New Commandos, Freedom Fighters, and Deus Ex titles planned". Gamespot. April 6, 2004.
- "Hitman maker contracts new shooter". Gamespot. July 17, 2006.
- 123 games with untapped franchise potential, GamesRadar US, April 30, 2009