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Anne McCaffrey's Freedom: First Resistance
Windows - 2000
Description of Anne McCaffrey's Freedom: First ResistanceRead Full Review
Red Storm Entertainment, already well known in the stealth/shooter arena for the Rainbow Six series, delved into the world of science fiction with their most recent release, Freedom: First Resistance. This game is based on the Freedom Trilogy by prolific fantasy/sci-fi writer, Anne McCaffrey, which includes Freedom's Landing, Freedom's Choice, and Freedom's Challenge. These three novels chronicle events in the not too distant future when an alien race, known as the Catteni, invade Earth and quickly overcome mankind's defenses. Human beings eek out meager existences in makeshift refugee camps. Meanwhile, the conquering Catteni engage in secret experimentation on human subjects.
The plot revolves around Angel Sanchez, a no-nonsense rebel with a cause. Angel is recruited as the newest member of a ragtag resistance movement, set on overthrowing the Catteni and reclaiming the Earth for mankind. Angel is really one of the highlights of the game. It is truly refreshing to see a female lead character that actually possesses some depth and who doesn't suffer from the physical 'deformities' of the likes of Lara Croft. That's not to say that Angel has no sex appeal. It's just not overt and tacky. Sadly, the choice to depict the main character as more than just a shallow prop to provide 'eye candy' for adolescent players (and a few of us dirty old men too) cannot make up for the myriad of problems that plague the game.
Freedom: First Resistance is described by the publisher as an action/adventure. However, as I will soon point out, the action elements of the game are not only sparse, but lack any real adrenaline. So Freedom is really an adventure game, right? Well... sort of. Typically, adventure games require the player to explore (and you do plenty of that), but also to solve some interesting puzzles along the way in order to progress. Freedom's puzzles are limited, for the most part, to the rather uninspired 'key hunts' prevalent in many first person shooters (only without the creative twists that good FPS's incorporate).
Additionally, it is promoted as a game in which stealth is a key ingredient, comparing itself to titles such as Thief or Deus Ex. However, here again, the claim does not quite stand up to scrutiny due to the fact that there are relatively few instances where you can't solve a problem by gunning down your enemies. It's not until about the seventh mission or so that your mission objectives include a requirement that you not be detected at all throughout the mission. The rest of the time, you rarely even need to attempt to remain hidden since enemies don't react to you anyway.
Freedom is powered by a modified Rogue Spearengine. Unfortunately, it doesn't do enough to deliver the kind of detailed environments we've come to expect as the benchmark of a well-designed game. Besides the fact that the graphics are dreary and lifeless, the level design doesn't do anything to help matters. You will find yourself wandering around shopping malls, empty city streets, and sewer tunnels on numerous occasions. It's bad enough that these areas are quite bland the first time, but when you return for your third mission on the same map, you quickly lose interest altogether.
The sound is pretty much below par, too. Weapons discharging and other sound effects are lackluster. There isn't really any ambient sound to add atmosphere, and at least half of the voice acting is horrendous, with line delivery alternating between flat monotones and ridiculously overdone accents. The thing that annoyed me most about the sound, however, was the fact that the repetitive music track always cues when you first enter a new area, but it's completely out of place for the situation usually. The area can be completely devoid of any activity, but the music pounds like you've messed up and are about to get your butt kicked.
Then there's the save function. Ahh, the beloved save function, one of my favorite topics! The good news is that Freedom features an unlimited number of save slots and you can save at any time you want. The bad news is that you can only access additional save slots by starting a new game. Otherwise, any time you save, the game always overwrites the first slot (or the slot of the current game you are playing). It's almost humorous when you place the disc in your CD-ROM drive and select 'load a game' from the main menu. Let's see, which game should I play? Slot one... or slot one? This design flaw seems totally inexcusable.
There are also quick save and quick load hotkeys. These work just fine as long as your character doesn't die. If you don't get to the load key before your death, then you have to sit through minutes of animations and 'please wait' screens. So much for 'quick load.'
This brings us to the AI and combat system. The combat in Freedom involves less action than a television test pattern. You face the general direction of your enemies and click the mouse button repeatedly until they go down (there's no targeting reticle, so don't even worry about aiming). Of course, you will get off one shot for every six or seven clicks because your character has to complete the entire animation before you can fire again and the speed of these sequences are consistently abysmally slow. By the way, don't expect to fire while moving either. Remember all those fancy strafing maneuvers you learned in Unreal Tournament? Throw them out the window. You cannot use the attack button while depressing another key. You have to move/halt/shoot, move/halt/shoot, move/halt... oh, never mind. You get the idea. Are we having fun yet?
These issues don't become a real problem, though, because of the intellectually challenged enemy AI. Opponents stand out in the open, almost completely motionless, just begging you to take them out. There seem to be no line of sight or hearing algorithms to determine whether an enemy attacks you. It appears to be solely based on whether or not you cross an imaginary line into their 'zone.' Admittedly, some enemies have larger zones of influence than others and may still attack you from a distance, but they are few and far between.
Most of the time, there is no need for stealth because, as long as you don't make the mistake of getting too close, you could parade down the street naked doing cartwheels (and before you ask... no, there isn't a cheat code that allows you to do this!). Some of your opponents are so feeble minded, you have to practically walk up and tap them on the shoulder to get them to notice you (see the screenshot below). Once you have been spotted, the chances are good that the aliens will not pose much threat anyway. They have a habit of getting confused when they encounter objects such as desks, trash cans, etc. These aliens were smart enough to build interstellar spacecraft and enslave the human race, but they can't seem to figure out that they have to walk AROUND the empty refrigerator box to get to you.
Of course, these pathfinding issues affect you as well. You often control two or three characters. There is a function that allows you to 'link' the characters so that you don't have to switch back and forth between them, but this feature is practically useless. Unless you are moving in a wide-open area, your compatriots will almost certainly get stuck in walls and other obstacles. The supporting characters often turn out to a liability (although perhaps not as much of one as in Daikatana). If ANY of your characters are killed, the mission ends unsuccessfully. More times than not, these guys bite the dust because they are marking time in front of a wall rather than just turning the corner and continuing down the hall when one of the Catteni is after them.
In closing, let me just say that I was really looking forward to Freedom: First Resistance before Christmas. Now I'm just thinking a lump of coal in my stocking would have been preferable. Red Storm has recently announced that they will be producing a game based on Anne McCaffrey's, Dragonriders of Pern. Hopefully, it will fare better.
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Comments and reviews
'Newsflash: LARA CROFT ISN'T A REAL PERSON.'
Neither is the girl in this game.
Spare You2020-05-080 point
'Because real women need to conform to the writers biased view on what women should look and act like, or they are 'deformed' and aren't real people.'
Newsflash: LARA CROFT ISN'T A REAL PERSON.
Spare me2020-04-30-1 point
'Angel is really one of the highlights of the game. It is truly refreshing to see a female lead character that actually possesses some depth and who doesn't suffer from the physical 'deformities' of the likes of Lara Croft. That's not to say that Angel has no sex appeal. It's just not overt and tacky.'
Because real women need to conform to the writers biased view on what women should look and act like, or they are 'deformed' and aren't real people. Funny how its always the ones trying to sound the most enlightened and pure, end up the most sexist creeps around.
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