Freedom Force is a real-time tactical role-playing game developed by Irrational Games and published by Electronic Arts and Crave Entertainment in 2002. The player guides a team of superheroes as they defend Patriot City from a variety of villains, monsters, and other menaces. A sequel, Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich was self-published in early March 2005. The games were made available on Steam on May 29, 2009.
The characters of Freedom Force are the creation of Irrational Games artist Robb Waters, who has been involved in the videogame industry for over a decade, including the creation of the characters of Thief: The Dark Project as well as the PC title System Shock.
Fleeing Lord Dominion and his invading forces, Mentor headed towards Earth in a small spaceship containing many canisters of the mysterious Energy X. Lord Dominion's ships pursue Mentor and destroy his craft just outside the Earth's atmosphere; the blast scatters containers of the substance over the metropolis of Patriot City. Energy X strikes many of the city's inhabitants, giving them superpowers that echo their personality traits (for instance, Minuteman's staunch patriotism and El Diablo's fiery temper) or draw on the situation they were in when energized (e.g., The Ant or Nuclear Winter). Most of the game is set in Patriot City, but a number of other locations and time periods are used, including magical realms, prehistoric times, and realms entirely removed from time and space.
The game involves a diverse roster of characters embodying traditional comic book archetypes and paralleling popular DC and Marvel properties.
- Minuteman - Frank Stiles was a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II. During his time there, he learns that a colleague, O'Connor, is selling secrets to the Russians. He reports on O'Connor but with no real proof, he is disgraced and fired. In 1962, as an elderly man sitting in a park, he sees O'Connor by chance. Following him again, he notes O'Connor seems to be still associating with the Russians. His old enemy shoots him in the heart. Stiles slumps against a statue of the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War. The mysterious 'Energy X' imbued in the statue enters Stiles, making him young and granting him superpowers. Stiles vows to protect his country with these abilities and creates the costume and guise of The Minuteman.
- Microwave - Microwave began his life as part of a series of robots hailing from an alternate future timeline, known as the Cyberverse, where robots have taken control of the Earth, hunting down humans to near extinction. It first appeared during a raid on Pinstripe's secret warehouses. A Microwave unit had been sent back in time by Timemaster to destroy Freedom Force. After a battling with Freedom Force, the robot was temporarily subdued. It was taken back to the Freedom Fortress, where it was reprogrammed by Mentor. Unfortunately, during the reprogramming Mentor erased most of its memories of the future it had come from. Microwave chose to join Freedom Force in their battle against evil.
- Liberty Lad - Nick Craft was an avid comic book reader and the founder of the Freedom Force fan club. One day, Nick happened to catch a glimpse of Freedom Force as they were attempting to foil a bank robbery by members of Pinstripe's gang. Ignoring the repeated warnings by Minuteman and El Diablo, Nick followed after the team as they chased down and did battle with Pinstripe's goons. During the final battle between Freedom Force and Pinstripe, Nick Craft was struck by stray gunfire from Pinstripe's tommy gun. The only hope to save the critically injured boys life was a blood transfusion using Minuteman's Energy X infused blood. Nick survived his injuries, but the Energy X in Minuteman's blood granted him superhuman powers, similar to his idol. He donned a costume and declared himself to be Minuteman's new sidekick, battling the forces of evil as Liberty Lad. Against Minuteman's wishes, Liberty Lad struck out on a solo mission in an attempt to prove his worth as a member of Freedom Force. After proving himself to be a courageous and worthy addition, Minuteman reluctantly granted Liberty Lad membership.
- The Ant - John Miller was a nerdy high school student who was bullied and picked on often. One day, while carefully observing a colony of ants, a group of bullies shoved him onto the ant hill he was observing. As the ants began to swarm over him, he was struck by a bolt of Energy X, which imbued him with ant-like powers. As he moved through the city, experimenting with his new found powers, he noticed the same group of thugs entering a local candy store with the intent of robbing and vandalizing the store. Tying a scarf around his face to conceal his identity, Miller leaped through the entrance of the store and quickly dispatched the hooligans. From that day forward John Miller donned a superhero identity and vowed to use his new powers to defeat those who would prey on the weak as: The Ant.
- El Diablo - A hot-headed Latino and former gang member, granted powers of fire by Energy X, El Diablo joins the ranks of Freedom Force after saving Minuteman and Mentor from the clutches of Nuclear Winter. Wielding the power of fire, El Diablo starts out able to fly and shoot gouts of flame at foes. Later in the game, he is given more powerful ranged attacks, including the ability to make objects explode. He considers himself a ladies' man but his main target, Alchemiss, constantly rebuffs him. As a fire-based character, he is vulnerable to cold attacks. Reflecting his fiery temper, El Diablo has difficulty focusing his powers, often resulting in poor accuracy or misjudged power use. He is also apparently mildly claustrophobic. Tombstone reveals in The Third Reich that in the future he and Sea Urchin will get married.
- Man-Bot - Ted Taylor was the stereotypical playboy; handsome, athletic, popular, and incredibly shallow. He loved fast cars, fast women, and fast living. That all changed when he was struck by a bolt of energy while driving. This accident caused him to be imbued with a large and unstable concentration of Energy X. The power coursing through his body was so immense and so unstable that it would frequently discharge in a massive energy explosion. He rushed to see his "egghead" brother Tom, a Nobel prize winning scientist, who offered Ted a solution. Tom had been working on developing a powered exo-suit that would provide mobility to the disabled. Tom modified the suit to feed on the Energy X stored in Ted's body, siphoning excess energy from his body to power the suit. The one catch was that Ted would have to wear the suit constantly until Tom was able to find a cure for his condition. Ted resisted the idea of being bound up in such an ugly contraption. While Ted protested his brother's temporary solution, a powerful surge of energy exploded out of his body, killing his brother in the blast. Wracked by guilt, Ted donned the suit and vowed to redeem his superficial life and his brother's death by protecting the innocent as The Man-Bot.
- Alchemiss - Catherine Larchmont-Price was the most popular, and beautiful girl at Patriot City University. She believed in little besides her ability to make men drool, and wandered through life disdainful of the beliefs of others, especially those of her strange, and somewhat square, roommate, Emily. Then one night, Catherine had a strange dream. In it, the statue of Emily's "Goddess" came to life, and told her that she was to be the Goddess' emissary, battling against evil and corruption in her name. She awoke to find herself clutching the statue, which radiated an eerie purple glow. Just then, there was a knock at the door. It seemed that one of the many boys she flirted with had made his way to her dormroom ins a drunken stupor and decided to win her affections by any means possible. After he tried to force himself upon her, Catherine's powers manifested, and she hurled him out a window with a mystic force bolt. Seeing the effects of this magic first hand, she decided to heed the words the Goddess had told her previously, and become a force for good, thus adopting the name The Alchemiss.
- Mentor - Not much is known about the being known as Mentor before his arrival on Earth. What is known is that he crash landed in Patriot City while escaping the forces of The Domain. After learning of Lord Dominion's plot to destroy Earth by giving the power of Energy X to is cruelest and most vile inhabitants, Mentor stole a freighter full of Energy X canisters and fled to Earth, intent of finding worthy men and women to endow with its power so that they may fight against Lord Dominion's forces. While making his daring escape, Mentor's ship was pursued and shot down by a fleet of Domain warships, releasing its cargo of Energy X into the atmosphere, particularly above Patriot City. After recovering from his crash landing, Mentor devoted himself to scouring the Earth in search of courageous men and women who had been empowered by Energy X to help aid him in his battle to protect Earth from the forces of Lord Dominion.
- Blackbird - During her time in and out of jail for burglary, Cassandra Calloway realized that crime really did not pay and relegated herself to a life of misery. One night when down on her luck, Cassandra was walking the streets when she was unexpectedly bombarded with Energy X. Cassandra chose to use her powers for good than to continue her evil deeds. Cassandra had her powers during the events of The Mr. Mechanical Disaster, and even during the Invasion of Nuclear Winter. It is said that Cassandra had her powers before Minuteman but that is unconfirmed. Blackbird (along with Iron Ox and Supercollider) is a bonus character included as an incentive for pre-ordering Freedom Force at speciality stores (such as Electronics Boutique). Pre-ordered versions of the game would add the 3 bonus heroes to the recruit list at some point during the story. She could also be unlocked by adding a command line to the game's init.py file, then typing in a cheat code in-game. Blackbird was an official member of the Freedom Force during the events of The Third Reich.
- Iron Ox - Iron Ox is a washed up English boxer who was imbued with Energy X and given super powers. In many respects, Iron Ox is a typical strongman character but he is not especially vulnerable to mental attack as most "brutes" are. However, he is extremely vulnerable to electricity. Iron Ox speaks in a stereotypical posh English accent.
- Bullet - Dwight Arrow was an Air Force pilot known for being the "fastest man in the sky." During the Vietnam war, his plane was hit by Energy X, which granted him super speed. After his plane crashed, he not only outran the bullets of his pursuers, but ran all the way across the Pacific to America. He decided to become a crime fighter, adopting the identity of Bullet. Bullet is the fastest hero in the game and can also sprint short distances near-instantaneously. Additionally, he is relatively strong, which makes him a valuable melee character. Bullet can also stun enemies by running into them at high speeds and can generate small whirlwinds that hurl people and objects upwards.
- Eve - The beautiful Eve appeared unexplained in Patriot City Park, wearing a bikini-like outfit of foliage. Her origin is never fully revealed, but she plays a major role in defeating Pan, which may indicate that she is the embodiment of a mythological nature-force as well. Mysterious and quiet, Eve rarely speaks unless directly questioned. She wields a bow and variety of arrows with great accuracy, and can also call upon plants to blind or bind enemies. Her appearance is very similar to the early appearances of Poison Ivy in Batman comics.
- Supercollider - Supercollider's origin is unknown. Like all of the pre-order characters, he doesn't have an origin clip and his description states him as being either an alien or a genetic experiment. The sequel indicates via in-mission dialogue that Supercollider has had numerous run-ins with the law. He has a roughneck attitude and looks like a bulky orange skinned humanoid wearing a red armor. He has very powerful melee attacks and an active defense force field.
- Law and Order - Just before mob boss Franky "Scrambled Eggs" Carbone was to stand trial, Pinstripe's goons rigged Judge Wilson's car to explode. Wilson was killed instantly, but there was a witness. Judge Wilson's assistant Sarah had seen Pinstripe at the scene, even though the explosion blinded her. Sarah was placed in the protective custody of an Officer Samson, an inexperienced but honest policeman who refused to abandon her to the mobsters trying to silence her. Facing down the corrupt police officers about to kill them, Sarah and Samson were simultaneously struck by Energy X, fusing them together into a composite being. Sarah became Law, wielding a mighty sword, and Officer Samson became Order, who attacks with an enormous gavel. Only one aspect of the duo can exist at once, but either can transform into the other at will. Law is a powerful healer and a quick but relatively weak fighter, and Order is a slow but powerful warrior.
- Man O' War - Hank Waters was a grizzled fisherman, but he'd had a run of bad luck. He was taking his beloved ship, the Man O' War, to Boston to turn it over to the bank when he discovered a young female stowaway on board (see Sea Urchin below). A vicious storm struck, during which Hank Waters was thrown overboard. As the stowaway struggled to rescue him, both were struck by Energy X. Hank found himself possessing power over the sea and electricity, which he used to calm the raging storm. Naming himself Man O' War after his treasured ship, he becomes a crime-fighter along with his new sidekick, Sea Urchin. He is one of the more physically powerful characters in the game, has good ranged attacks and can gain the ability to fly. Man O' War's voice is very reminiscent of that of actor Sean Connery.
- Sea Urchin - The same incident that turned Hank Waters into Man O' War gave super powers to Merry Mason, his young stowaway. Like Man O' War, Sea Urchin has electrical and sea-related powers, but much less powerful. Most of her attacks are bubble-based, using her bubble-gun. Like Liberty Lad, she is young and much less durable than other members of Freedom Force.
COP - The cop is a conventional policeman armed with a pistol. Representing law and order in Patriot City, they will often fight alongside Freedom Force, if necessary.
- Nuclear Winter - Formerly a Soviet agent named Sukhov, Nuclear Winter was transformed by Energy X into a being made of ice and dedicated to the destruction of his capitalist enemies. Nuclear Winter possesses strong melee attacks and ice-based projectiles, but is physically slow due to his icy temperament. He is the first supervillain to be defeated by Freedom Force in the original game and the sequel. Here, he steals an atomic bomb which he plans to detonate within Patriot City. As Minuteman's arch-enemy, he can be viewed as an analogue to Captain America's foe Red Skull, although with his outlandish appearance and powers, he shares more in common with the satirical villains of Fighting American.
- Pinstripe - Joey "Pinstripe" Rigotta was a run-of-the-mill mobster before gaining powers from Energy X. He is a relatively minor villain, defeated early in the first game, but is directly responsible for the creation of Liberty Lad and the composite heroes Law and Order. Pinstripe looks like a typical 30's-movie gangster with a cigar in his mouth and a pinstriped suit, but with purple skin. He is virtually immune to physical attacks and knockbacks, and his tommygun fires ordinary bullets and a density-increasing beam that can ground flying heroes. He uses mobsters and street thugs as henchmen, who wield bats, pistols and grenades.
- Shadow - Once a famous supermodel, Amber Autumn was extremely vain. When she sustained a tiny scar on her cheek, Amber went mad, convinced that she was horribly disfigured. Energy X gave her powers of darkness, which she uses to destroy the "beautiful" society from which she had banished herself. As Shadow, she wears a mask to hide her "ugliness" and transforms ordinary citizens into Dark Men, misshapen cloaked minions with weaker versions of her own powers. Shadow can become invisible, and can blind her opponents with a ranged attack. In her subterranean lair, she enslaved The Ant with mind-controlling drugs to assist her in her restructuring of Patriot City in her own twisted self-image. After she was defeated and unmasked by Freedom Force, the Dark Men swarmed over Shadow and pummelled her in a rage over her beauty. She was given another chance to live by Time Master at the end of the game. In Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich, she is mentioned as being locked in a mental asylum.
- Deja Vu - Deja Vu is an escaped mental patient who was empowered by Energy X, he always speaks in rhymes and can clone himself at will. He carries a ray gun that causes radiation damage and creates a large ray cannon which can create evil duplicates of anyone, whether hero or ordinary citizen. He uses his duplicates to frame Minuteman for various crimes, a common comic book plot.
- Mr. Mechanical - Mr. Mechanical was a failed architect with bizarre sensibilities. His buildings were unstable and caused many injuries and deaths when they collapsed. He was driven out of architecture after an important structure he was commissioned to build collapsed only a week after its unveiling, he claimed that it was sabotaged by petty minds jealous of his genius and incapable of appreciating his wonderful works. Appealing to his insane sense of injustice and revenge, Time Master enlisted Mr. Mechanical to create an army of gigantic robots to wreck Patriot City's "inferior" buildings.
- Pan - The Greek god Pan was summoned to Patriot City by the Time Master in order to create chaos and further test Freedom Force. Smitten by Eve, he captures her and forces Freedom Force to rescue her from his floating island fortress.
- Praetor - The second-in-command of Lord Dominion. Though known of by Mentor, Freedom Force first makes contact with him when he leads a Domain invasion force to Patriot City. What they later learn is that this mission was somewhat altruistic—they came to prevent Time Master from stealing an artifact from the museum that would make him too powerful to control.
- Lord Dominion - The cruel ruler of the race known as The Domain, Lord Dominion had supposedly conquered all dimensions but one: ours. Bored with straightforward conquest, Lord Dominion decided to allow the Earth to destroy itself by imbuing the worst, most despicable humans with Energy X. Mentor stole one of Dominion's ships loaded with Energy X capsules and fled towards Earth, hoping to bestow its powers upon good people to counter the evil plans. After his defeat by Freedom Force, Lord Dominion becomes the team's reluctant ally against Time Master.
- Time Master - This mysterious entity holds sway over the power of time itself. He is revealed as the ultimate villain in the first game, having directed or manipulated the lesser villains to attack Freedom Force. He used Man-Bot as a living power source in his scheme to destroy the Celestial Clock, thus stopping time in the universe and making himself immortal, as the only thing his chronal powers don't allow him to do is halt his own aging. Although he appears to explode after being defeated, the second game retcons events so he survived but lapsed into a dormant state in which Freedom Force handed him over to the American government.
Comic book tie-in
From January to June 2005, the story of the first Freedom Force game was retold in a six-issue comic book miniseries published by Image Comics. This series was scripted by Eric Dieter and featured Jack Kirby-influenced artwork by Tom Scioli. Dieter also wrote the series "bible" and served as community manager for the official website's forum, "Freedom Fans".
Freedom Force was followed by a sequel, Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich.
- Mirror of Freedom Force FAQ
- Freedom Force Q&A. GameSpot (2000-07-17). Retrieved on 2007-11-26
- Allman, Mark (2000-10-22). I Want to Be a Superhero. RPGPlanet. Retrieved on 2007-11-26
- The Force Behind Freedom Force, Silver Age Soapbox, Comics Bulletin, December 1, 2004
- Official Freedom Force site
- Freedom Reborn, Un-Official Freedom Force fan forum
- Freedom Force FAQ (mirror)
- 'Freedom Force' at MobyGames
- Freedom Reborn wiki site
- HeroForce, Freedom Force add-on content site