Freedom Fighters (video game)
North American cover art for Windows
IO Interactive (PS2) (EU)
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 game is set in an alternate history where the Soviet Union 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 with a controllable squad of team mates while fighting the occupying Soviet forces. The player gains charisma points by performing various deeds, such as capturing a base or destroying enemy supplies. The more charisma gained, the more squad mates the character can recruit, up to a maximum of twelve. The player can direct recruits by giving them simple orders such as "follow," "attack," and "defend."
The console versions' multiplayer revolves around securing flags and bunkers. The flag is usually in the center of the map. Bunkers are positioned around the map, and spawn either Soviet soldiers or American freedom fighters. A game can host up to four players via split-screen who may choose between the Soviet and American sides.
Each side has a different set of weapons which the players can switch during battle. The players' charisma meters are 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 PC version does not support multiplayer.
The Soviet Union became a world superpower by dropping the first atomic bomb on Berlin, ending World War II, and propping up communist states throughout the globe which begin to surround the US in the present day. New York plumbing brothers Chris and Troy Stone travel to meet with their next client, an activist named Isabella Angelina, only to find her apartment 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 retreats to the sewers and sets up a base of operations as New York is lost, with the media now being controlled by the Soviet Union.
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. Chris becomes known as the "Freedom Phantom" within the Soviet-controlled media network, SAFN. 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. Chris succeeds, but returns 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. 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. Chris 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. 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 leader of the New York resistance.
- 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, 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, 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.
- Mr. Jones/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". Under this guise, 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. 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, but is dedicated to the resistance. He escapes 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.. 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. When Tatarin is assassinated by Chris in retaliation for Troy's execution, Tatarin is buried with full military honors, becoming a martyr to the Red Army forces.
- Tatiana Kempinski - Soviet propaganda newscaster. Kempinski is a news anchor at the Soviet Armed Forces Network (SAFN) studios in New York City. Her status is unknown after Chris Stone attack the SAFN studios.
In 2002, EA Games officially announced Freedom: The Battle for Liberty Island, which would later be renamed Freedom Fighters, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The concept for the game originally involved a turn-based strategic mode as a major element of gameplay.
The game was developed by IO Interactive, creators of the Hitman franchise and Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, using the 3D Engine Glacier. This engine made use of the OpenGL and Direct X graphic APIs, and would be used by IO Interactive until the Glacier 2 engine was developed for Hitman: Absolution.
Freedom Fighters was released by EA Games in the US on October 1, 2003, a full week after the UK release. An EA spokesperson stated that retailers in the US had requested the delay. The game is one of the few developed by IO Interactive that was not published by Eidos Interactive.
The Freedom Fighters original soundtrack was composed by Jesper Kyd and released on September 29, 2003 by Sumthing Else Music Works 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 have been described as "Vangelis on steroids".
Kyd researched Russian music and musical scales prior to composing the soundtrack, citing Soviet history and the Cold War as major influences. Kyd composed the score in Manhattan shortly after the September 11th attacks.
|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|
Freedom Fighters received generally positive reviews, with an average scoring of 81.5/100 overall by Metacritic and 82.69% overall by GameRankings. It was praised for having an excellent AI for squad tactics, which served to enhance the sense of immersion in the "extremely detailed" environments and maintain the illusion of working with a team. The game's sound quality was also of note, both for the realistic combat noises and the game's Russian-influenced music, which "adds a perfect level of drama to the proceedings."
Critics noted that while the game "does a marvelous job" of creating a realistic environment, the story was lacking in substance and fairly predictable, and while the squad AI is good, the enemy AI was lacking. Another source of criticism was the games length. The game can be cleared relatively quickly, but offers little replay value. According to Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot, "The only real problem with Freedom Fighters is that there simply isn't enough of it. "
On April 6, 2004 Eidos UK revealed plans for the sequel. Eidos announced it would distribute the sequel in the latter part of 2005. However, IO Interactive announced development of a new game, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, casting the future of a Freedom Fighters sequel in doubt.
In 2010, when asked about a potential sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days director Karsten Lund refused to comment. In 2011, IO Interactive's official Twitter account tweeted that Freedom Fighters 2 is "definitely something a lot of us are interested in doing. But right now, the focus is on Hitman: Absolution."
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