The best way to describe Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich is as a classic comicbook come to life. Actually that description is much too simple and obvious because Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich is a classic comic book come to life.

The only things missing in this game is a 12-cent price tag on the cover and an appearance by the Hulk. If you've ever read classic superhero comics from the 50s you'll have an understanding where this game is coming from. What is unique about this game is that it's squad-based and uses superheroes instead of soldiers. It's also an RPG in that the heroes are able to upgrade their skills.

Since this is a sequel I am hesitant to use words like "unique" and "original" since those words have already been used to describe the first game. I guess we can use these words to describe the series because nothing about this sequel is old news. It picks up where the last game left off and takes an interesting detour. Instead of battling new enemies, the Freedom Force tackles old enemies and I'm not just talking about the ones from the last game. The Force goes back in time to 1942 to take on the Nazis in WWII. Without giving too much away let's just say that time travel is not always perfect and you can expect some problems with parallel universes, time warps and paradoxes.

The story is handled smartly. It's not a lampoon nor is it completely serious. It's got the perfect blend of fantasy and reality that gives you a reason to believe. The scientific facts are logical and probable. They form the foundation of the story. We find the superheroes to be so altruistic and even a little naïve to the degree that we can't help but want to believe in them and see them succeed.

Each superhero has unique powers. While they each have a different personality they are somewhat shallow. As if to give them more depth, in this version we are treated to the origins of some of our favorite heroes from the last game. Not all of these guys started out on the side of good as you'll see. There are some former criminals and even murderers mixed in with the Force which helps foreshadow the heavy vibe of the Nazi encounter.

Taking control of a party of four superheroes, you will use the powers of one hero at a time to achieve your goal whether it be old faves such as Sky King, Black Jack and Tricolour or the new additions of Tombstone, Green Genie and Quetzacoatl. Unlike the first game your objectives, both primary and secondary, will be outlined for you before you start the mission. This takes away the anxiety of trial and error and also simplified and speeds up the leveling-up process.

Teamwork is absolutely essential for the completion of your missions. The game pauses as you issue commands. Strategies change as you adapt to each new twist in the objective. Even though objectives are outlined, the way you deal with each of them is your problem. Things do change and you'll have to roll with the punches. That's what makes the gameplay interesting.

Expect bold, primary colors. This is a virtual live-action comic book after all. Compared to the last game the environments are less sterile and empty. They take on damage with craters on the streets and buildings that can be reduced to rubble. The particle and light effects are more vibrant and fluid than before. Character models are still pretty much the same. You can create your own heroes and outfit them with an almost endless combination of powers, costumes and colors and take them into the Rumble Room to test them out against various enemies.

The multi-player mode has been enhanced although it's not as deep as the single-player story mode. It does add some replay value and is more than just an add-on. Other modes such as the Rumble Room let you exercise different aspects of the story mode gameplay and further increase the replay value. With a great story, excellent controls, graphics and voiceovers you are certain to get your money's worth out of this game.


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System: PC
Dev: Irrational Games
Pub: Vivendi Universal
Release: March 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Dan