PC games based on novels have been giving their hardcover counterparts a bad name as of late. Recently it was Eidos Interactive’s Timeline, based on Michael Crichton’s book of the same name. This time it’s Red Storm Entertainment’s Freedom: First Resistance, based on Anne McCaffrey’s published works. Timeline eventually made our Top Ten Worst Games of 2000. As it stands, Freedom: First Resistance is a sure bet to make our Top Ten Worst Games in 2001. The game is simply that bad, which is a bit of a surprise coming from Red Storm.
Freedom: First Resistance is based on Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom trilogy of novels. An alien race known as the Catteni have successfully invaded and colonized Earth. Every human government and standing military has been destroyed, and major cities are in ruins. The worldwide economy has collapsed and the vast majority of the survivors dwell in refugee camps. Earth is ruled by the Provisional Authority, humans who administer the planet on behalf of their alien masters. The only hope for mankind is a network of freedom fighters known as the Resistance.
Freedom: First Resistance is a third person action-adventure game. You play the role of Angel Sanchez, a young leader in the resistance movement who recruits a team of like-minded rebels to rid the Earth of its alien overlords. In order to get a better idea of how Freedom: First Resistance plays, allow me to break down the action-adventure genre in which this game is placed within.
The adventure element is a combination of puzzle solving and exploration, with an abundance of character interaction. I can’t stress the character interaction enough because Freedom: First Resistance is overflowing with dialogue, much of which is response-related and rather tedious. It’s not that the script was poorly written, quite the contrary, but there’s just too much of it. Way too much time is spent working through conversation trees. When you’re not talking, you’ll undoubtedly be exploring the extremely barren environments within the game. It’s bad enough that the aliens have enslaved Earth, but did they have to go ahead and clean up after us? Not only have most of the humans mysteriously vanished, so have all of their belongings.
The worst part about the adventure element, without a doubt, is the puzzle solving. The tired formula of finding keys or switches to open locked doors, which lead to more key searches, is ever present in Freedom: First Resistance and the game does little to hide that fact. Teamwork does factor in prominently in the game, and in some instances is required to solve puzzles, but the teamwork rarely involves using a character’s particular ability. Instead, teamwork is diminished to simply placing members in separate places at the same time in order to… you guessed it, open a locked door. The teamwork element is completely wasted on mundane tasks when it really could have added another dimension to the game.
The action element is comprised of stealth and combat sequences. The stealth element pails in comparison to some of the other first and third person games out on the market, mostly due to the fact the artificial intelligence is inconsistent. Some enemies can spot you coming a mile away, while others have difficulty when you stand right next to them.
And the combat, oh the combat. Perhaps I shouldn’t have played Oni and Freedom: First Resistance in the same week, because the horrible hand-to-hand combat becomes even more apparent in Freedom: First Resistance. When it comes time for the fisticuffs, or combat with blunt weapons, you simply stand in the direction of your opponent and start wailing away. There’s no rhyme or reason behind this form of combat, just keep striking the attack button until either you or your foe goes down. When long-range weapons are involved, it’s more of the same. There’s no line of sight or anything along that path, just keep hitting that fire button and hope for the best. The combat engine is atrociously clumsy in general, with absolutely no technique involved. It’s like watching two young children confront each other in which one of them says “I’m going to start swinging my arms. If you happen to get in the way, it’s your fault!”
The visuals are provided via a modified version of Red Storm’s Rogue Spear engine, but the futuristic 3D cityscapes, while large enough to be convincing, are bland and lifeless. You’ll also find that navigating corridors and doorways can be tricky when you’ve got a team of rebels alongside you. These path-finding issues are also present for enemies as well, as they constantly get stuck on objects in the rooms. The sound isn’t a great deal better. Simply put, there’s just not enough of it. The dialogue is all well and good, but there were very few ambient sound effects to speak off, which certainly didn’t bode well for the mood or atmosphere in the game.
Freedom: First Resistance is a single-player experience. It emphasizes adventure over action, so there’s no multiplayer available. There are plenty of tiny quirks regarding the game as well, such as the inability to save multiple games. There’s only a single slot available to save your game, so you’ll have to be sure you want to save it where you are, because you’ll lose your last save whether you want too or not. When you die, it takes several seconds before anything actually occurs. It finally prompts whether you’d like to restart the mission from the beginning, but if you’re looking to load up that game you saved, you’ll have to quit back to the menu. Minor annoyance, but apparent none the less.
Freedom: First Resistance does absolutely everything wrong, from the generic key-hunting puzzles to the lifeless environments. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope this is the first and last resistance.
[ 15/50 ] Gameplay
[ 04/10 ] Graphics
[ 04/10 ] Sound
[ 03/10 ] Fun Factor
[ 04/10 ] Controls
[ 05/10 ] Storyline