Anne McCaffrey's Freedom: First Resistance
"My name is Angel Sanchez and I used to have a life..." moans the lead character in the intro movie to Red Storm's latest book conversion. This empathetic reviewer knows exactly how she feels, because like her, yours truly has been stuck in the same oppressive hole for the past week.
Post-invasion Earth really is a miserable place to be, especially if it comes with the name Freedom: First Resistance stuck to it. This third-person action/adventure is an extension of the nondescript sci-fi series by Anne McCaffrey, which features Earth as a raped wasteland governed by a ruthless alien race known as the Catteni and their corrupt human puppets.
Indeed, the very game you see before you is a bubbling cauldron of ideas that McCaffrey herself would have included in her next novel had she the time (or inclination) to write it. So, with more than 7,000 lines of dialogue and the complete co-operation of the Dragonrider herself, you'd expect Freedom to at least offer a few salient characters and half-decent plot twists. In reality, we're presented with a game that struggles to find its identity from the beginning.
What Am I?
freedom's main problem is that it has aspirations of being a stealth game along the lines of Metal Gear Solid, while simultaneously wanting to be a high-tech blast like The Matrix. The result is that Freedom is more of a one-on-one Om-style outing, making it one of the least subtle games ever released for the PC. If you're looking for surprise and anonymity throughout the game's 18 levels - forget it. Virtually every enemy you encounter will know the colour of your eyes before they die.
Multiple playable characters are Freedonfs only upside. The player can select three characters from a pool of five for each mission. Characters such as Leo, Jimmy, Claire and Angel all have differing skills, so there's a smattering of RPG and strategy decisions to make when you assemble your team. Furthermore, you can control these characters separately or as one unit while you're actually in the field. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to the crunch there's little real difference between the characters. The only time we found it essential to have one particular character on a specific level was when Claire's athleticism was required for the television studio mission. Even then it was only a case of using her extra long jump to leap across a large gap on the stairs. The lack of invention is apparent throughout. Graphics are poor by current standards and the interface seems to prohibit the use of weapons while you're moving. Slowdown also rears its ugly head time and time again -even when you're using a 1GHz PC with 256Mb of RAM.
A Novel Ending
Ultimately, Freedom is a blockbusting disappointment. Action/adventures have long surpassed this primitive stage of development and to think that some innocent gamers may be hoodwinked into buying it because of the McCaffrey influence is a very real and sobering thought.
Our advice: steer clear, even if you are a fan of the books. It will leave you frustrated, angry and incapable of speaking politely to other human beings.
Download Anne McCaffrey's Freedom: First Resistance
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Red Storm is continuing its trend of turning bestselling novels into bestselling games and has made a move from the redneck international thriller-maker Tom Clancy to sci-fi fantasist Anne McCaffrey. Freedom: First Resistance is the first of a series of books and, should this enterprise prove successful, no doubt Red Storm will be bringing the whole lot on to our screens.
The basic plot is pretty run-of-the-mill, and outlines a V scenario where the Earth has been colonised by aliens. They turn humans into slaves, run concentration camps and keep a handful of earthlings as administrators. Reworking the Third Reich as an alien invasion has been done countless times before, but that doesn't mean the idea loses any of its effectiveness. And neither does using an underground resistance as a catalyst for all our rebellious instincts. Whether it's the rebels in Star Wars, V or Red Dawn, there is little doubt that small bands of fighters struggling against an all-powerful but soulless empire hold a very special place in our collective consciousness. We all light our own personal candle to the patron of lost causes. And if you get to shoot some people in the head without feeling any guilt in the process, then all the better.
To star in this sci-fi mutiny, who better than an all-new cyberbabe and Hispanic freedom fighter? Angel Sanchez, a Jennifer Lopez lookalike runs the resistance movement charged with knocking down the Provisional Authority and the aliens behind it.
The game plays from a third-person perspective, ensuring that we get a good look at Angel, and most of the action revolves around puzzlesolving and stealthy combat. The emphasis on stealth is quite important, since you don't go bursting in with all guns blazing when you're clearly outnumbered. Most of the game takes place in underground hideouts and key parts of Earth's cities, as well as some important moments aboard the invading alien spaceships. There will be a lot of exploration involved, as well as character interaction, key to the puzzle-solving element in the game. You won't be confined to controlling Angel either, as there are parts of the game where other team members play an important role. We've yet to find out exactly how this will work, but it does add variety to the proceedings. To make sure First Resistance's looks live up to its potential, Red Storm is using a souped-up version of its Rogue Spear engine plus more than 700 motion-captured moves.
From what we've seen, Red Storm could have another winner on its hands. Just don't mention Shadow Watch.