Summary: Freedom Force is back, facing newer and more perilous threats than ever! It is time to battle everyone's favorite villains: Nazis! So don your costume and read this review of Freedom Force vs The Third Reich!
Also, don't forget to enter in our Quiz Giveaway to win a signed copy of the game!
Like its forefather, Third Reich has the player leading up to four heroes at a time, from a stable of about two dozen to choose from. They have RPG like stats such as Strength and Endurance, as well as power abilities that also increase through the expenditure of character points which are earned through gaining levels. Fortunately, all characters gain levels at the same time and the player is not punished for not bringing a certain character along. This nearly-equal XP gathering also helps keep the game balanced, by not permitting any single character from becoming too powerful.
The characters are very Silver Age. This means that they are the same kind of selfless do-gooders one would expect from a 1940's Superman, but they also have personality quirks, except perhaps for Minuteman - he's just batshit insane patriotic.
As such, the dialogue is suitably cliche. Minuteman is constantly praising justice and America and the loyal servants of the government. Mentor, a brainiac alien, speaks like a brainiac alien - in overly large words and with phrases like "the power of the mind compels you to speak the truth!" Every word is emphasized, every phrase full of exclamations not unlike Robin's "Holy Holiest of Holies" series from the Bat-Man TV series. Objects and vehicles pertaining to Freedom Force are suitably named, like the Freedom Flier, and so on.
Sounds terribly cheesy, doesn't it? Well, it certainly is, but it works. The voice acting is just over-the-top enough to by humorous, though it can get tiresome over extended dialogue scenes. In fact, it's charming enough that what we really mind is when the text or voice acting goes so far beyond the call of duty it seems to mock the idea. There's a fine, subtle line between gently poking fun at old comic books while respecting the spirit, and cynical parody. A few times, it seems like Freedom Force vs The Third Reich steps across that line and it can be a jarring experience. Fortunately, the music is always there to keep the player in the mood - it is very well-suited to the setting and nicely composed. Its timing - to be stirring, scary, or sad as necessary - is excellent.
Suitably enough, the characters and action play out in a Silver Age fashion. Heroes don't kill their foes, they defeat them. Villains, no matter that they tried to start a nuclear war or other horror, will spill their dastardly plans once properly beaten.
SIDEBAR: It's a good idea to get two characters capable of dealing electricity and energy damage in the game. Many of your most powerful foes will be vulnerable to that.
Head on over to the last page of this review to enter in the Quiz Giveaway to win a signed copy of the game!
The combat is real-time but with an ability to pause, looking around the area and give orders. The interface lists the weaknesses and strengths of your enemies, as well as their hitpoint status and any afflictions/abilities that are turned on. In reality, it really resembles the Baldur's Gate games, or NeverWinter Nights. Most of the appeal of Freedom Force is in figuring out how to defeat a particularly nasty encounter. Often, the game has scenarios where it eliminates a character who has the power necessary to defeat a certain kind of foe with ease, forcing a great deal of planning in battles.
It's all really rather simplistic. There are different damage types and different abilities that fall into a multitude of categories - mental, mystical, energy, radiation, heat, cold, blunt, piercing and so on. Units have resistances and weaknesses, as do heroes. All in all, it works really well to provide a compelling subset of powers. However, it's not perfect. At times it feels too loose and simple. Loose as in the system can be abused with custom heroes, simple as in you don't always get the powers you want or imagined.
Most of the difficulty in the game is in pacing yourself - you can only use powers every so often, when your energy recharges. Health, excepting a few characters, doesn't recharge and is what needs to be rationed throughout the map - giving health canisters to the proper character is quite important. In general though, it's safe to think of Freedom Force vs the Third Reich as a combat-heavy Baldur's Gate with a quicker pace and superheroes instead of magicians and paladins.
Being more polished than its predecessor, the difficulty is more linear and balanced, but at times Third Reich will stumble. There are certain maps where the challenge is so far out of whack from the rest of the game that you'll be double-checking your settings. Also, the maps are small as we said, and there are few truly spectacular, prolonged fights that show off the various powers and abilities of the characters - usually it's just about laying a bit of smackdown here, a touch of whoop-ass there. Furthermore, the game is short - 10 hours at most, unless you play at a higher difficulty level and need to plan fights carefully and replay them often.
SIDEBAR: I want to punch Minuteman in the face.
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