Firstly, I'd just lke to say that I bought Freedom Force (FF) at full retail years ago, and I've only just bought it on Steam due to ease of use. Don't let my 'time playing' mislead you as to my level of experience with this game.
Secondly, I am a massive turn-based tactical (TBT) nut. I love TBT games. A game in which intelligence rather than reflex speed rewards the player is my idea of heaven. I'm an older gamer, and despite plenty of time in Doom (and sequels), Duke Nukem 3D, Borderlands, ARMA, BF2 etc., I find my reflexes just can't keep up with the young'uns any more.
And so this brings us to Freedom Force, a realtime-with-pause superhero game that pays shameless homage to the pulpy artwork and storylines of Jack Kirby, the single most important figure in Golden Age comics (sorry, Stan Lee).
While not a TBT game per se, Freedom Force has the same structure of rewarding mind over muscle. The game starts slowly enough, with a single brawler-type character called The Patriot- an analogue of Captain America- and soon expands to incorporate other hero and heroine archetypes. Gaining experience gives you resources that allow you to add new characters from a bank of heroes that you encounter along the way.
One of the primary points of difference is the ability to also use these resources to recruit a custom character. I've played a couple of superhero-themed MMO's and the area in which they all fall flat is character creation. Where they offer 'archetypes' that require your superhero to conform to a template, Freedom Force gives you complete leeway to create any kind of superhero you want. The only limitation is that the more powerful you make your custom character, the longer it will take to obtain the resources you need to field that character.
Now, I'm not exaggerating when I say 'complete leeway'. Want a flying character who drains enemy special powers in a brilliant purple beam then fires them back in a green fireball that does AoE and DoT damage? Done. Want a 'Hulk' style character who throws cars around and absorbs enemy attacks to get stronger? Easy peasy. Want a male toon that seduces enemies into leaving cover using blown kisses, a la a cross-dressing Bugs Bunny, so that your compatriots can smash them flat? Well, it's not very fifties, but I'm sure it's possible.
In playing Freedom Force, you will encounter all kinds of classic 1950's enemies, from evil, Communist ice-villains and giant radioactive ants to self-duplicating cloners. This is where the incredibly deep customisation system comes into play. Every defence has a counter. Every counter has a counter-counter. It's a lot like the Cold War in that respect.
But all that aside, Freedom Force looks and plays brilliantly for a twelve-year-old game. With a fiendish, but not ridiculous difficulty level, amazingly deep customisation, cerebral gameplay and a perfect Kirby aesthetic, Freedom Force is likely the most underrated game ever released.
-Deepest customisation ever seen in the superhero genre
-Loving homage to Golden-Age comics
-Graphics are soooo last-generation.
-Takes ages to get stupidly overpowered custom characters into the game.
-A reboot, with better graphics, possibly set in the Silver Age of comics (1970's-1980's) incorporating new threats and themes. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
WILL APPEAL TO:
-Golden Age comics fans
-Superhero fans who really want to create their 'perfect hero'
-People tired of superhero MMO's but still looking for caped action
-People looking for an tactical game with more flexibility than traditional TBT