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Adventure & RPG
Release Date

Freedom Force
December 9, 2002 | Eddie Park

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Right Makes Might!
The gameplay in FF is best described as a action game with RPG elements. Players will start with one character and eventually assemble a large team of heroes, though only a maximum of four can be used for any one mission. Control can be done entirely with a mouse, though experienced players will probably use a combination of the mouse and keyboard for quicker gameplay. Warcraft III players should feel right at home.

The game types consist of Campaign, Danger Room, and Multiplayer. The Campaign is basically the story-driven single player version, while the Danger Room generates random scenarios for heroes to tackle. The Multiplayer aspect, which uses GameRanger for matching, allows players to put their heroes against each other in combat.

Once a game starts, players will be presented with a top-down view of the level and can proceed to interact with it, which means moving the heroes around, directing them to perform certain actions, or scrolling around the area in search of bad guys. For those that have a hard time juggling the action, a pause option is available that, while freezing the action, still allows players to input commands before resuming the game.

Missions will comprise of both primary and secondary goals. A typical primary goal may require the heroes to capture a certain foe, with secondary goals being to avoid detection or to beat up all the guards. Performing these various heroic deeds will award a number of points, including Prestige points, Experience points, and Character points. These points can be used to recruit new heroes and improve existing ones. Another stat, known as the Performance Rating, ranks the entire FF team based on how the public regards them. Rescue citizens and prevent the city from being reduced to rubble and the rating should go up. Knock out citizens accidentally or blow up too many buildings and the rating may go down.

Combat is handled much as one would expect. Select a hero, click on the bad guy, and said hero will attack with whatever power is currently selected. Where the strategy comes into play is in deciding what powers to use and in what fashion, particularly when fighting one mean baddie with four worn-out heroes. For example, one hero could play the bait, ramping up his defensive capabilities, while another hero shoots beams from the roof of a nearby building.

To keep things from getting too crazy, both heroes and villains are saddled with both hit point and energy bars. Run out of hit points and that character is KOed. Using powers saps the energy bar. Tax your energy reserves too much, and that character may become temporarily stunned. To add a little versatility to the mix, players can opt to undercharge or overcharge certain powers when using them, which will use less or more energy.

The Freedom Force
Players will start with Minuteman, a 74-year-old man turned young and strong by Energy X. As the game progresses, more characters will either outright join the FF team or can be recruited by spending Prestige points. Each hero comes with a slew of powers, though some must be purchased in order to be accessible. In addition, each power can also be upgraded by several levels by using Character points, making that power stronger and more effective.

The sheer number of powers and abilities should be more than enough to keep players happy. Besides the usual zapping, psychic, and super strength powers that most people are familiar with, there are variety of other powers that can come in handy. A defensive blocking power alone can have the various facets of absorption, normal defense, deflection, redirection, or reflection. Even the expected powers, such as projectile attacks, can bear several attributes, including damage type, magnitude, energy point cost, stun ability, knockback power, velocity, radius, range, and accuracy.

If the regular roster of such characters as Manbot, Alche-Miss, and Sea Urchin donít do it for you, you can always create your own heroes as well. The character creation system is quite flexible, allowing players to choose a base mesh with unique animations, a custom skin, stats, attributes, and powers. These heroes can be used in the single player campaign as well as the multiplayer action. While the temptation to create invincible heroes is there, keep in mind that the more powerful a hero is, the more prestige points he/she will cost. To afford more of a balance to this cost, players can also choose to give their custom heroes negative attributes in addition to good ones, reducing the total cost of that character.

Thankfully, the Mac version of FF is meant to be compatible with fan-made custom skins and meshes designed for the previously-released PC version that can be found at various FF fansites across the net.


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