Freedom Fighters, originally titled Freedom: The Battle For Liberty Island or Freedom: Soldiers of Liberty, is a 2003 third-person shooter video game available for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. It was developed by IO Interactive, using a modified version of Glacier engine and published by Electronic Arts. PlayStation 2 version in Europe was published by IO Interactive. The game is set in an alternate history and 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 in the present time.
Freedom Fighters is third-person shooter, in which the player navigates through the streets of New York City with a controllable squad of teammates while fighting the occupying Soviet forces. The player gains charisma points by performing various deeds, such as capturing a base or destroying enemy 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.
The console versions' multiplayer revolves around securing flags and bunkers. The flag 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. A game can host up to four players via split-screen who may choose between the Soviet and American sides. Each side has a different set of weapons which the players can switch during 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. 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 nighttime scene with four bunkers at the edge of the map with the flag in the middle. The players' charisma meters are 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 PC version does not support multiplayer.
The Soviet Union became a world superpower by dropping the first atomic bomb on Berlin, ending World War II in Europe, then the Soviet Union dropped the Atomic Bomb on the Japanese City of Sapporo to end World War II altogether, soon relationships between the US and the Soviet Union fell through, and when the US finally developed there own Atomic Bomb in 1949, the Cold War had begun. The United States/UN Involvement in the Korean War caused the USSR to prop up communist states throughout Europe, Africa, Eastern Asia, Central America, and South America from 1953 to 2000. In 2001, the USSR launched an invasion of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, the Middle East, and Oceania sparking World War III. The United States retaliated in 2003 by launching an invasion of Soviet Occupied Iraq and Syria, as well as making landings in the Iberian Peninsula. By now, World War III is an active stalemate in France, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Eastern Asia.
In New York City, plumbing brothers Christopher and Troy Stone travel to meet with their next client, an activist named Isabella Angelina, only to find her apartment abandoned. The Soviet Union launches a surprise invasion of the United States Eastern Seaboard, the Southern United States, and California in retaliation of the US invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Soviet soldiers, led by General Tatarin, seize Troy. Amidst the attack, Chris escapes to the streets, encountering a man named Mr.Jones and resistance member Phil Bagzton. After rescuing Isabella from a police station and Troy from a post office, the group retreats to the sewers and sets up a base of operations as New York is lost.
Months later, Chris, Phil, and Isabella sabotage key Soviet facilities and reclaim areas within the city, building up a resistance group of New York citizens and disillusioned Soviet soldiers. Delivering serious damage to the Soviets, Chris becomes known as the Freedom Phantom within the Soviet-controlled media, SAFN. Later, Troy is captured by Soviet troops and tortured for information. Forced into issuing a public statement aimed at the resistance to cease their actions, he instead urges Chris to continue fighting for which he is executed by General Tatarin. Mr. Jones suggests assassinating Tatarin in retaliation and Chris succeeds, only to return to find Isabella missing and the Resistance base occupied by the Soviet army. The operation was orchestrated by Mr. Jones who reveals that he is the KGB agent Colonel Bulba, as he explains this as his source of information. Betrayed, Chris escapes with Phil and others to a new underground area while SAFN reports on the death of Tatarin, Colonel Bulba's promotion to General and the end of the resistance in New York.
During the winter, Chris leads the resistance deeper into occupied New York, culminating with a major raid on SAFN Studios. He uses the station to send a broadcast encouraging the city and beyond to rise up and end the Soviet invasion and to liberate Soviet Occupied territory within the United States. A final assault on Governors Island consisting of massed Resistance forces is planned. After taking over the island and rescuing Isabella, New York is liberated for the time being as Chris and the group solemnly celebrate their victory.
- 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. He goes on to become a famed- and infamous- leader of the New York resistance, called "The Freedom Phantom" first by the Soviets and later by both sides of the fighting.
- Isabella Angelina - Co-leader of the Manhattan Resistance. Prior to the invasion, Isabella was a political activist, leader of the "Warning Against Reds!" movement. She becomes a prominent leader in the New York resistance and plays a key role in its liberation from the Soviets.
- Troy Stone - Manhattan Resistance member, brother of Chris Stone. Troy, formerly a plumber alongside his brother, is captured by General Tatarin as the Soviets invade. Rescued days later in a resistance raid on an occupied post office, Troy joins the resistance but soon leaves New York City, planning to find and aid resistance movements elsewhere. Captured again during a Soviet raid, Troy is forced to read a prepared statement, asking Chris and the resistance to surrender. As he is being led away, however, Troy abruptly commandeers the podium to make a short but far more sincere speech, yelling defiantly for his brother to never give up the fight. Furious with his actions, the Soviets take Troy to Governor's Island, where he is personally executed by General Tatarin. Troy faces his end bravely, never once betraying his brother or the resistance.
- Mr. Jones - Manhattan Resistance military and intelligence advisor. Too old to be effective in combat, Mr. Jones aids the resistance as an intelligence expert, directing many of its operations early on. It is not known exactly what he did prior to the Soviet invasion, nor is it known where he gets all the information he has.
- Colonel Bulba - Head of KGB in New York City, Bulba infiltrates the New York Resistance on the day of its formation, posing as "Mr. Jones". He decides against destroying the Resistance immediately, instead deliberately aiding it and even directing Chris to kill Bulba's superior, General Tatarin. A triumphant Bulba reveals his true identity to Chris afterward, and upon his promotion to general vows to hunt down Chris and the remaining resistance members "like sewer rats", after he has Soviet forces raid the main base. He does not appear during the assault on Fort Jay, however, his status and location are unknown at the game's end.
- Phil Bagzton - Manhattan Resistance munitions expert. Phil joins the New York resistance on the day of the Soviet invasion, having been rescued by Chris and Mr. Jones after being shot by Red Army soldiers. He quickly proves to be little more than a cowardly braggart, constantly boasting but almost never seeing actual combat. Despite this, however, Phil is dedicated to the resistance and never betrays or abandons it, being one of those fortunate enough to escape with Chris when Colonel Bulba attacks resistance headquarters.
- Dinh Nguyen - Manhattan Resistance supporter, deals with information, logistics and putting messages of freedom on walls with graffiti, having little else to do since his boarding school was shut down by the Soviets. He later saves Phil and Chris by leading them to his secret hideout.
- General Tatarin - Commander of the Soviet Occupation Force in the US and the primary antagonist until his death. Born in 1958 in the Uzbek SSR, General Tatarin is a field warrior, hailing from a long line of soldiers. Tatarin is a highly skilled and accomplished soldier, the subject of great loyalty and respect from the men under his command. He is as brutal as he is charismatic, personally executing Troy Stone when he refuses to cooperate with Soviet demands. When Tatarin is assassinated by Chris in retaliation, Tatarin is buried with full military honors, becoming a martyr to the Red Army forces he once led. The assassination of Tatarin is the most difficult mission for the reds are almost everywhere and have good weapons. The most difficult task is to get away from the chopper.
- 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. Kempinski is a news anchor at SAFN studios in New York City, regularly broadcasting what the Soviet government wants the people of New York to know. She is not seen during the resistance assault on SAFN studios and, like Colonel Bulba, her whereabouts are completely unknown at the end of the game.
- Microsoft Windows(r) 98/2000/ME/XP/Vista
- Pentium III 733MHz or comparable
- 256MB RAM
- 32MB Direct3D with Hardware T&L capable video card with DirectX 8.0 or higher video card
- 650MB HDD space
- 4 speed CD-ROM
- DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
- DirectX 8.1 or higher
In 2002, EA Games officially announced Freedom: The Battle for Liberty Island, which would later be renamed Freedom Fighters, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The concept for the game originally involved a turn-based strategic mode as a major element of gameplay.The game was developed by IO Interactive, creators of the Hitman franchise and Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, using the 3D Engine Glacier. This engine made use of the OpenGL and Direct X graphic APIs and would be used by IO Interactive until the Glacier 2 engine was developed for Hitman: Abdolution. Freedom Fighters was released by EA Games in the US on October 1, 2003, a full week after the UK release. An EA spokesperson stated that retailers in the US had requested the delay. The game is one of the few developed by IO Interactive that was not published by Eidos Interactive.
The Freedom Fighters original soundtrack was composed by Jesper Kyd and released on September 29, 2003 by Sumthing Else Music Works and Nano Studios. It was GameSpot's "Best Game Soundtrack of the Year 2003" and Game Reactor'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 have been described as "Vangelis on steroids". Kyd researched Russian music and musical scales prior to composing the soundtrack, citing Soviet history and the Cold War as major influences. Kyd composed the score in Manhattan shortly after the September 11th attacks.
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".
- Main Title (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 5:02
- Invasion Of The Empire (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 0:56
- March Of The Empire (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 5:12
- Isabella - Leader Of The Resistance 4:47
- Betrayal At Rebel Base 1:53
- The Battle For Freedom 4:07
- Nightfall 3:53
- Flag Of Freedom 1:03
- Freedom Fighters (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 5:11
- Choir Of Liberty (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 0:37
- Rebel Base 4:18
- Infiltrator 4:51
- Sabotage 5:52
- Snow Battle (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 3:08
- Governor's Island 3:56
- Final Battle (Vocals – Hungarian Radio Choir) 4:01
- Zero Hour (Bonus Track) 4:36
- Flag Of Freedom (Original Version) 2:04
- Composed By, Producer, Percussion, Electronics – Jesper Kyd
- Conductor – Bela Drahos
- Engineer – Denes Redly
- Executive Producer – Janos Flosser
- Layout [Cover] – Chandra Larsson
- Lyrics By – Gaelle Obiegly
- Orchestrated By – Pierre Foldes
- Performer – Hungarian Radio Choir,
- Producer [For The Orchestra] – Gyula Krum
Freedom Fighters received generally positive reviews, with the PC version scoring an 80 overall on Metacritic based on 16 critics' reviews. It was praised for having a excellent AI for squad tactics, which served to enhance the sense of immersion in the "extremely detailed" environments and maintain the illusion of working with a team. The game's sound quality was also of note, both for the realistic combat noises and the game's Russian-influenced music, which "adds a perfect level of drama to the proceedings". Critics noted that while the game "does a marvelous job" of creating a realistic environment, the story was lacking in substance and fairly predictable, and while the squad AI is good, the enemy AI was lacking. Another source of criticism was the games length. The game can be cleared relatively quickly, but offers little replay value. According to Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot, "The only real problem with Freedom Fighters is that there simply isn't enough of it".
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 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.
- There's a reference to IO Interactive's Hitman series near the beginning of the game. On the wall of the apartment you start in, you can see a movie poster for a movie called "Hong Kong Love Story" with a picture of Agent 47 and Lei Ling (the girl from the Lee Hong Assassination mission of Hitman: Codename 47) in a romantic embrace. This is kinda funny because in the original game, Agent 47 couldn't stand her. He can also be seen in several billboards around the city advertising a clothing store.
- Nicholas Worth, who did the voice acting for the main villain in Freedom Fighters, also happened to play a very similar role in the game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 as Alexander Romanov - another alternate history game where the Soviet Union strikes at America.