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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 that is set in an alternate history. The player takes the role of Christopher Stone, a plumber-turned American Resistance movement leader who fights against the Red Army that invades and occupies New York City. It was developed by IO Interactive, using a modified version of the Hitman 2: Silent Assassin game engine, and published by Electronic Arts.
Freedom Fighters is a third-person shooter, in which the player navigates through the streets of New York while fighting the Soviet forces. The game also contains squad-based elements, having a charisma meter. The player gains charisma by performing heroic deeds in the resistance movement against the invading forces, like capturing a base or destroying vital supplies. The more charisma that is gained, the more squad-mates the character can recruit, including leaderless guerrillas and wounded Russian soldiers, up to a maximum of twelve.
Freedom Fighters uses a simple method of controlling recruits in battle. In the game, the player can command recruits by giving them simple orders such as "follow", "attack", and "defend", but in most situations, they take care of themselves. Given the terrain of New York City after the initial invasion, the Resistance usually stations its soldiers in covered positions like craters and buildings.
Multi-player revolves around securing flags and bunkers. The flag that a player needs to capture and hold is usually in the center of the map. Bunkers are positioned around the map, and spawn either Soviet soldiers or American freedom fighters. Players can know who the bunkers belong to because of a star above each one; a Soviet bunker is marked by a red star, while an American bunker is marked by a blue star. In each game, there can be up to four players, who can choose between the Soviet and American sides. Each side has a different set of weapons. The players can switch weapons in battle. In each map, there are several areas where weapons and ammunition are stored. Each bunker also has one medical kit and one ammunition can, so every bunker is vitally important. Each player also has their charisma meter 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 players can select a map to fight in: Greenwich Village, where there are four bunkers surrounding the flag; Brooklyn Rooftops, with four adjacent bunkers with the flag between the middle two bunkers on a building; and Fort Jay, a night-time scene with four bunkers at the edge of the map with the flag in the middle.
In an alternate present time, the Soviet Union brings an end to World War II by dropping the first atomic bomb on Berlin, redefining history. As a result, the Soviet Union never collapsed, instead became the world superpower. All of Europe changed from democracy to communism with Great Britain as the last to join the communist bloc, albeit reluctantly. The Iron Curtain was extended to most of Asia, the Middle East and South America. Now, they are sending in their army to "liberate" America.
Chris and Troy Stone, plumbers both, travel to meet with their next client- an anti-communist activist named Isabella Angelina. The Stones appear at her condominium only to find no one home, until Soviet soldiers led by General Tatarin raid the condo, seizing Troy. Amidst the invasion, Chris escapes to the streets and into the underground sewers, allied with a man named Mr. Jones and resistance member Phil Bagzton. They plan a rescue for Isabella, who is being held at New York police precinct. Chris single-handedly rescues Isabella and shortly thereafter executes a successful rescue of Troy Stone, who is being held hostage at a mail station.
A couple of months after the rescues, Chris becomes known as the Freedom Phantom within the Soviet controlled media, SAFN. Chris, Troy, Phil, and Isabella sabotage key Soviet facilities and reclaim territories within New York City, while building a strong resistance group consisting of New York inhabitants and disillusioned Soviet soldiers. Despite fierce resistance from the Soviet occupation, they manage serious headway against the Red Army. During this time, Troy is captured by the Soviet forces and made to reveal the true identity of the Freedom Phantom to the media. He is later forced to make a public statement to Chris and the resistance group, reluctantly pleading them to cease their actions - moments later he returns to the podium, urging Chris to keep fighting. For his defiant actions, he is executed by General Tatarin on Governor's Island.
Mr. Jones reveals the grim news to Chris, suggesting retaliation in the form of the assassination of General Tatarin. Chris succeeds and escapes Governor's Island, only to return to find Isabella missing and the resistance main base controlled by the Soviets. Mr. Jones reveals himself to be Soviet Colonel Bulba, head of the KGB, explaining that this was how he managed to supply the resistance with information. Chris escapes with Phil Bagzton and The Kid to another underground base. SAFN later reports on the death of Tatarin, Colonel Bulba's promotion to General, and subsequent, supposed "destruction" of the resistance in New York- in reality, the resistance has been scattered and taken to hiding.
During the winter, Chris, Phil, and The Kid plan more occupational missions on Soviet controlled New York City, ending with a raid on the SAFN Studios. They use the station to send a broadcast encouraging the people of New York and beyond to bring an end to the hostile occupation. Chris, Phil, and The Kid plan a final strategy against the Soviet army: an all-out assault on Governor's Island consisting of all available strength of the now-massive New York resistance. After destroying and taking over multiple areas of the island including Fort Jay and rescuing Isabella, the resistance group celebrate their victory over the Soviets. Chris and Isabella talk about the future of the conflict, and they share a kiss, before being interrupted by Phil.
- Christopher Stone AKA "Freedom Phantom" - Co-leader of the Manhattan Resistance. Brooklyn born and raised, 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. His many brave acts throughout the beginnings of the occupation make him a hero to oppressed Americans and a villain to the Soviets, and Chris is dubbed "The Freedom Phantom" soon after freeing Isabella and Troy during raids on a Soviet-held police station and post office respectively. Posters show a $500,000 bounty has been set on his head, though the immense resentment of the Soviet occupation means few if any try to collect on it. When Troy is executed by General Tatarin for his refusal to cooperate with the Soviets, Chris personally infiltrates Governor's Island and assassinates Tatarin at the direction of Mr. Jones. Jones reveals his true identity as Colonel Bulba upon Chris' return, having all but wiped out the resistance. Chris refuses to surrender and escapes, continuing to lead the battered but still functioning resistance, eventually leading an all-out assault on Governor's Island, seizing it and its main fortification, Fort Jay. Chris is saddened by the vast destruction and chaos wrought upon New York by the resistance, and knows that the Soviets will be back. He resolves to continue fighting until America is completely freed from Soviet occupation.
- Isabella Angelina - Co-leader of the Manhattan Resistance. Travelled extensively, became a political activist, protesting Soviet influence. Turned into a prominent leader of the resistance movement in New York, playing a key role in its liberation from the Soviets. She eventually becomes a romantic interest for Christopher Stone, and kisses him at the end of the game before being interrupted by Phil Bagzton.
- Troy Stone - Manhattan Resistance member. Brother to Christopher, assistant plumber. Is captured personally by General Tatarin at the start of the invasion, but is soon freed by Chris. He leaves soon after, vowing to find and aid resistance movements outside Manhattan. He is later captured again during a raid, being forced to appear on TV and make a prepared speech, asking Chris and the rest of the resistance to surrender. As he is being led away, he commandeers the podium to make a brief but far more sincere speech, defiantly yelling that Chris must keep fighting and free New York from occupation. Troy is then taken to Governor's island and personally executed by Tatarin. According to Mr. Jones, Troy faces his end bravely, never once betraying his brother or the resistance.
- Mr. Jones - Manhattan Resistance military and intelligence advisor. Cynical strategist, too old to do anything but supply information and direct operations. It is unknown exactly what he did prior to the invasion or how he gets all the information he has.
- Phil Bagzton - Manhattan Resistance munitions expert. Known for saying whatever comes to mind. He indulges greatly in macho pride and bragging, but rarely ever delivers under fire, appearing to be more of a coward than a hero. He is, nonetheless, unfailingly loyal to the resistance, and manages to escape its near-destruction at the hands of Colonel Bulba.
- The Kid - Manhattan Resistance supporter, deals with information and logistics, having little else to do since his boarding school was shut down by the Soviets. He is forbidden from fighting due to his young age.
- General Vasillj Tatarin - Commander of the Soviet Occupation Force in the US. Born in 1958 in the Asian Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, General Tatarin is a field warrior, hailing from a long line of soldiers. Tatarin is a highly skilled and accomplished soldier, being the subject of great devotion and respect from the men under his command. He is killed by Christopher Stone during a raid on Governor's Island, and is buried with full military honours, becoming a martyr to the devoted soldiers he once led.
- Tatiana Kempinski - Soviet propaganda newscaster. Educated partly in the United States, spending several years there prior to the invasion, but as staunch a follower of the Soviet cause as anyone. Her broadcasts cease for obvious reasons upon the seizure of the SAFN studios by the resistance.
- Colonel Bulba - KGB Director/Commander of Soviet Occupation Force in the USA. Directs KGB operations, presumably in the City and/or State of New York during the Soviet occupation of the USA. Realizing that he could destroy the resistance early on through his inside position as "Mr. Jones", Bulba decided to not only allow the resistance to grow but aid it, delighting in the fact that no one, not even Christopher Stone, ever questioned where all his information was coming from. He directs Chris to assassinate his superior, Tatarin, then all but destroying the resistance in one swift stroke. He appears on television, appearing deeply grieved and enraged over the death of General Tatarin, 'respectfully' taking his place as General and vowing to hunt down and destroy the resistance "like sewer rats", assuring Stone that his days are numbered. He does not appear during the assault on Governor's Island, and like Kempinski it is unknown where he is or if he is alive or dead at the end of the game.
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The Freedom Fighters original soundtrack was composed by Jesper Kyd and released on September 29, 2003 by Sumthing Else and Nano Studios. It was GameSpot's "Best Game Soundtrack of the Year 2003" and Game Reactor Magazine'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 bring Vangelis to mind, indeed one reviewer referred to it as "Vangelis on steroids".
He describes his thinking behind the score thus:
|“|| I researched Russian music scales and specifically what makes Russian music so unique. The history of the Soviet Union and the Cold War conflict were also major contributing influences.|
Not many people know this but I wrote the Freedom Fighters score in Manhattan right after 9/11. It was quite a strange time writing music for a story about a foreign power invading Manhattan.
I spent a lot of my time just playing the game to get a real, in-depth sense of the experiences that I needed to dramatize. I probably spent way too much time playing the game, but I just loved the fact that you could become a freedom fighter and help free New York City from an invading army.
It received a score of 7.5/8.5/8 from Electronic Gaming Monthly: the first reviewer, Joe Fielder, called the game's core gameplay mechanic "damn fun to play", but criticized its cutscenes and said that "you come away from Freedom Fighters wanting more. Just when the game really hits its stride, it's over—and neither playing its under utilized multiplayer mode nor beginning the whole affair over again on a harder difficulty setting will quite satisfy your need". The second reviewer, Shawn Elliott, called it "easily one of the best all-out action games I've played all year".
On April 6, 2004 Eidos UK revealed plans for the sequel. Eidos announced it would distribute the sequel in the first half of its financial year 2006, which would mean the latter part of 2005. However IO Interactive has announced development of a new intellectual property, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, casting the future of a Freedom Fighters sequel in doubt. In late 2007 a representative of IO said in an interview about the upcoming Kane & Lynch: Dead Men that a sequel for Freedom Fighters was still on the company's 'to-do' list.
- ↑ SoundtrackNet: Freedom Fighters Soundtrack..
- ↑ Music 4 Games - The Future of Rock n' Roll & Interactive Entertainment. Est. 1999..
- ↑ 5/10/04: CD Reviews Lovely To Look At and Freedom Fighters..
- ↑ Fielder, Joe; Elliott, Shawn; Intihar, Bryan (October 1, 2003). You say you want a revolution?. Electronic Gaming Monthly. Archived from the original on April 5, 2004 Retrieved on April 12, 2010.
- ↑ New Commandos, Freedom Fighters, and Deus Ex titles planned. Gamespot (April 6, 2004)..
- ↑ Hitman maker contracts new shooter. Gamespot (July 17, 2006)..