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Video Game / Freedom Fighters

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A Third-Person Shooter released in 2003 by the Danish developer IO Interactive, the makers of Hitman. An Alternate History began when the Soviet Union developed the first atomic bomb, and ended World War II by dropping one on Berlin, shifting the balance of power firmly in their favor. The USSR steadily expanded to encompass most of the world, with only the United States opposing them, until a massive invasion quickly overwhelmed the US. The player takes control of former plumber Christopher Stone, now the "Freedom Phantom", as he fights against the invaders to liberate New York City.

Well-received critically, though something of a Sleeper Hit, this game is notable for having a surprisingly intelligent ally system. The player, being a leader of La Résistance, can get up to twelve fighters under his command, and order them to attack specific targets or areas, secure and defend areas, or just follow the player. Allies (and enemies) will take advantage of cover and mounted machine guns. Also, it had a really great soundtrack.


A sequel was announced in 2004; however, there hasn't been much said about it since that time. But as of 2019, IO Interactive has announced that they're interested in doing a sequel in the future and they retained the rights to the game after they left Square Enix.

This game features examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: It's your underground base, a raft big enough to fit a dozen men can float comfortably along, and it's the resistance's preferred mode of travel for bypassing Soviet roadblocks. The game is set in New York City, after all, which really does have sewers that big (some even describe the real network as an underground city).
  • Action Survivor: Chris was a plumber before becoming a freedom fighter.
  • A.K.A.-47: All the weapons are obviously real, but none are mentioned by name, just "assault rifle" or "shotgun".
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  • Almost Kiss: Isabella Angelina and Christoper Stone almost show each other how close they've become amongst the fighting when Phil Bagzton barges in saying they're going to miss the party. They then storm off and he fills embarrassed but then says something inspirational before the credits roll.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Averted — any civilians you encounter will by happy to tell you where the enemies are or any points of interest.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Even when you become the de facto leader of the resistance, you can only bring a small squad with you.
    • Relatively small, anyway – twelve men is usually more than enough to deal with most threats. With the maximum squad size, you can often overwhelm most Soviet positions with sheer weight of numbers.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: According to the Soviets' propaganda, "Last three American president were corrupt, involved in assassination of foreign countries' leaders, and cheated on their wives."
  • A-Team Firing: It's rare that the friendly AI hits anything beyond a few feet, especially if there is cover, unless they are using a sniper rifle or a machine gun. That said, none of them are trained soldiers or otherwise have firearms training.
    • The player character's accuracy starts off pretty terrible at first too, with more than half your shots ending up nowhere near where the crosshair is pointing. He gradually gets better over the course of the game.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Realistically averted. General Tatarin goes down from a single sniper shot to the face from a few hundred feet away. Even if you do fight him directly (and you're not even supposed to), he's no tougher than a basic enemy soldier, and the only challenge is the fact that he's protected by a dozen or so Elite Mooks and a heavy machine gun-wielding Giant Mook.
    • Played straight in that Soviet officers and other higher ranking units can survive noticeably more damage than basic Soviet soldiers.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The submachine gun. It has considerable stopping power, but it's only accurate to pistol range and its high rate of fire is a mixed blessing, since ammunition for it is quite hard to find.
  • Bare Your Midriff:The blonde female model of the female freedom fighter wears an outfit that shows her belly. At least in the earlier levels, in the levels where it is winter, that disappears.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: If Chris gives a wounded soviet police officer a med-kit, he will then join Chris in the fight against his former comrades that left him for dead.
  • BFG: Chris can wield a PKM machine gun (over 16 pounds unloaded) like an assault rifle.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Soviets really speak Russian. They gain a rudimentary understanding of English if you heal them when they're wounded.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Soviet Union has taken control of the United States, their strongest and last adversary, but thanks to Chris and his Resistance's victory over the Soviets in New York, some hope has been restored. However, that just means the real war has just begun...
  • Blatant Lies: Courtesy of your local news leader Tatiana Kempinski, who serves as the face of all Soviet propaganda that insists that the invasion is actually a "liberation" of the American people from their "corrupted government leaders" and a path to a "better future".
    • Thoroughly lampshaded in-game by the captured Troy Stone, who after being forced to decry his American ideals and to ask Chris to surrender blasts the Soviets as being full of nothing but lies, and pleads Chris to keep on fighting.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Though with the stacks of bodies that accumulate after some especially spectacular set-piece battles you'll barely notice.
  • Boring, but Practical: The assault rifle is going to be the weapon of choice for almost the entire game.
  • Brick Joke: Seen in the SAFN news propaganda ticker: "Trouble with your pets? Take them to Pets4Free at Lincoln Tunnel, and we will take good care of them for you". A bunch of unrelated propaganda later: "Trouble feeding your family? Registered workers can exchange food vouchers for 1 kilo of unspecified minced meat at Foods4Free at Lincoln Tunnel."
  • Crapsack World: In this Alternate Timeline, the Soviet Union destroyed Berlin with the first atomic bomb at the end of World War II, which eventually led to:
    • The entire European continent being part of the Soviet Union, with the United Kingdom being the last to join, reclutantly.
    • Guatemala and Honduras being "military advised" by the Soviet Union.
    • South America being invaded and occupied by the Soviets.
    • The fraudulent victory of the Mexican Communist Party in Mexico.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Starting with Freedom Fighter difficulty, you have to be this to win. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
    • Assaulting a Soviet position from the front is suicide. Circumventing them by going through damaged buildings and them from the sides is vital to overwhelming the most entrenched positions.
    • You cannot win against armored cars bringing reinforcements with no end in sight without explosives. But they need a road to reach the AO. A road that always includes a bridge. Demolish it with C4, and you cut off the enemies from their reinforcements.
    • Similarly, you cannot win against combat helicopters. You can, however, destroy their helipads with C4 to prevent them from deploying reinforcements.
    • Soviet snipers usually set up vantage points in damaged buildings. Use stealth to attack them from behind, giving your self a free sniper rifle and a safe position from which to start thinning the enemy masses.
    • Bypassing an MG nest and taking it over to kill reinforcements is very useful.
    • Every Car Is a Pinto. If enemies hide too close to a car, remember it is a much easier target than enemies behind cover.
    • Fellow Freedom Fighters behind good cover make a surprisingly useful distraction. They'll never see you flanking them or reaching a perfect position to throw a Molotov Cocktail at them until it's too late if you play your cards right.
      • In the lower difficulty settings, large armored soldiers that wield a machinegun can be defeated with minimal support, sometimes with no support, provided the player has enough ammo, including grenades and molotov cocktails and plenty of medkits. In the higher difficulties, it's practically impossible to defeat a large MG wielding soldier alone. Thus teamwork and strategy become essential to complete the mission objective.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The opening cinematic of the final assault on Governor's Island is deliberately evocative of the famous painting Washington Crossing The Delaware; the only real differences are that this crossing is in (an ice floe-littered) New York Harbor and the Soviets are actively shooting at the Americans.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Colonel Bulba is almost personally responsible for the resistance's existence, helps you obtain several key victories, and directs you to assassinate his own superior before showing his True Colors and taking the reins as General Bulba. Said assassination might have been intended as an Uriah Gambit to get rid of Chris – it's certainly one of the harder missions – and the ensuing Klingon Promotion was simply a happy accident.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: It's shown right there in the corner. By completing missions and objectives, you gain charisma, which lets you get more allies to command. But if you try to recruit more people then you're allowed, they blow you off, which is a little insulting after you infiltrate the enemy command center and shoot the supreme leader in the face.
  • Dummied Out: Subverted. The Liberty Island bonus level can be unlocked and is perfectly playable, but is quite obviously nowhere near finished. The alternate version of the Giant Mook enemy doesn't appear anywhere else either.
  • Eat the Dog: The scrolling text during a Soviet propaganda news broadcast tells the people of New York City that they can surrender their pets at a predetermined address if they can not feed them. The same text scroll mentions that anyone having trouble needing food can pick up free meat at that same location.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: In the rebel base prior to the attack on the post office, the player is prevented from using any weapons.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: and if enemy hide too close to a car, remember cars make easier targets than enemies in cover.
  • Exploding Barrels: And cars, too.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Friendly Fireproof: The other freedom fighters are invulnerable to their ally's bullets (but not the player's grenades).
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Mr. Jones in the first level and Isabella in the last one are completely invincible. Your freedom fighter allies can be incapacitated, but can only be permanently killed by explosives, vehicles, Elite Mooks, or water.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Revolutionary difficulty, in which you have the exact same amount of health as the weakest enemy mooks. And there are hundreds of them, and only one of you. Hope you know how to use cover and put your squad to good use.
  • Heal Thyself: With nice red medkits. You can also heal injured allies and civilians.
  • Help Face Turn: Some of the Freedom Fighters you can recruit into your squad are Russian soldiers who were left behind to die by their superiors after being wounded. If you heal them up they're immediately switch sides to the revolution and join your squad.
  • Hope Spot: The entire campaign in New York City becomes this for the rest of the Soviet-occupied United States. The city has been irreversibly scarred by the invasion and subsequent resistance, yes, but the American citizens who rallied to the cause now realize that they can fight and win against a superior enemy, and the success of the New York resistance inspires hundreds of other cells across the nation to take the fight back to the enemy.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Your primary weapon is on your back when it's not used, but your backpack apparently holds your ammo, pistol, wrench, twenty grenades and Molotovs, four packs of C4 explosive, ten medkits, and your binoculars. All of which can be accessed easily.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The game actually has two entirely different sets. For selecting the difficulty there's Demonstrator, Rebel, Freedom Fighter, and Revolutionary. The save/load menu uses a second set with "A walk in the park", "Have a blast", "You got what it takes?", and "Against all odds".
  • Island Base: The Soviets reappropriate Governor's Island as the headquarters for local occupation forces.
  • Instant-Win Condition: It doesn't matter how many Soviet soldiers are left in the level (or even if there are other objectives yet to be completed), as long as the player can raise the flag, it's mission accomplished.
  • Invaded States of America: Duh; this time by a Soviet Union that never collapsed and slowly encroached nearly the entire planet.
  • Invisible Wall: Often found near an Insurmountable Waist-High Fence. The latter are actually less common, as the player can mount ledges and boxes.
  • It's Up to You: Even surrounded by allies and part of an organized resistance movement, Chris seems to do everything important, from demolition to assassination. Even when he becomes the leader of the movement. Although, to be fair, he's never actually alone on any of his operations, with anywhere from two to twelve friendlies directly supporting him at any given time, far more than most other games will give for characters of equal skill and importance.
  • Jumped at the Call: Chris, and probably most other freedom fighters.
  • Justified Tutorial: Chris is a plumber, so he needs the help.
  • Karma Houdini: Colonel/General Bulba is nowhere to be found by the game's ending after having your hideout destroyed and revealing himself as the mole. Of course, that doesn't mean he got off scot free, due to the probable response of the Soviet Command to his formation of a resistance group in New York for personal glory that actually threw him and the Red Army out of the state.
  • La Résistance: It's right there in the title.
  • Large and in Charge: General Tatarin, the leader of the Soviet invasion force, is a 7-foot tall giant. He's a rare realistic example of the trope in that, from his facial features, he shows indications of having giantism and acromegaly, rather than simply being abnormally tall for no apparent reason.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted. Chris' outfit changes to match the weather and his objective, and his hair grows longer as the game progresses.
  • Made of Iron: The Soviet heavy machine gunners take about 3 full magazines of assault rifle fire to bring down, and can even survive several direct frag grenade hits. Hint: A direct hit with a Molotov will sap their health to something manageable over time. Grenades can help, too, if they get knocked over; you can pump them full of lead or beat the crap out of them while they're down and unable to respond.
    • Allies that can join you (other freedom fighters and defecting Soviet police officers) also seem to be able to take a good deal of damage as well.
  • Magnetic Hero: A gameplay mechanic, even. You can even get some wounded Soviet soldiers to follow you if you're kind enough to patch them up.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Quite realistic ones, too.
  • Monumental Damage: A bonus map in the game is Liberty Island, with the Statue of Liberty in pieces and scattered all around it.
  • Mooks: It's raining Soviets!
    • Mook Lieutenant: Soviet Officers fight with shotguns and are noticeably larger and tougher than regular troops. They also coordinate enemy squads with hand gestures in battle.
    • Elite Mooks: Two different types of Soviet special forces, both armed with blistering-quick submachine guns; burly men wearing orange scarves who roll around and choke your rebel allies to death, and female Splinter Cell ninja wannabes who cartwheel around and can take almost a full magazine from an AK-47 before dropping.
    • Giant Mooks: Huge Soviet supermen wearing full plate armor and carrying heavy machine guns, who can eat 2 rockets, at least 3–4 sniper rifle shots to the face, or 2–3 mags of AK-47 fire before finally dying. In the bonus level, a different variant appears with automatic shotguns and white armor. Run. Away.
    • Mook–Face Turn: giving a med-kit to abandoned, wounded Soviet police officer will net you an AK-wielding ally.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Chris Stone becomes such a headache for the Soviet occupation forces, he earns the name of "Freedom Phantom". Cross him at your own peril.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Chris himself wonders about this at the end, if he's destroyed so much to defeat an enemy that will just be back with even more troops.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: As Mr. Jones, Colonel Bulba successfully manipulates Chris into assassinating General Tatarin, allowing Bulba to fill the void created by his death and letting him conquer New York on his terms, with the added pleasure of wiping out the resistance. However, by this point he had already allowed the resistance to grow into a formidable fighting force under Chris' inspiring leadership, enabled them to kill hundreds of his countrymen and had effectively created the Freedom Phantom that would go on to put a serious wrench into the Soviet Army's plans to subjugate the entire country.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game gets like this after the Sewer Level even on the lower difficulties.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted all to hell on the Soviet side, as you'll often find wounded Soviet police officers that have been left behind to die.
    • Heel–Face Turn: Wounded Soviet police officers, if Chris patches them up, they'll join your band (assuming you have the space for them).
  • Ominous Russian Chanting: Based on the Soviet Army Choirs, nonetheless!
  • One Bullet Clips: To the point where the game automatically reloads for you if you go more than a couple seconds without firing, whether you want it to or not.
  • Optional Stealth: Stealth is crucial in earlier missions, and mission descriptions typically warn you to stay out of Soviet floodlights, but with a large enough squad and some good weaponry you can easily just charge straight through enemy defenses.
  • Ornamental Weapon: At some point in the game, Chris gets a knife on his left shoulder. You can't equip it.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Once you complete the primary objective in an area, you cannot come back to that area for some reason, and any bonus objectives, supplies, or useful equipment there is permanently lost.
  • Pinned Down: The AI tends to take cover when under fire. Using your squad to lay a suppressive fire on the enemies, making them take cover, then flanking them, is an extremely effective tactic.
  • Player Mooks: The other freedom fighters.
  • Player Headquarters: Three of them: the sewers, the subway tunnels, and the interior of one of the vent shafts beneath Governor's Island. They gradually evolve over the course of the game, becoming better equipped, more populated, and more sophisticated as the resistance grows in strength.
  • Ragdoll Physics: Present, but rather subdued. Until you switch on the FlyMo-Ragdolls and/or Nailgun cheats.
  • Rare Guns: The Bizon submachine gun, which has only seen limited service in Real Life, is occasionally carried by Soviet special forces. However, it shows up too rarely to ensure a steady supply of ammunition, so the player usually won't get a chance to use it.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Rare Guns may be powerful... But their rarity means you won't get enough ammo for them. There's a reason the basic assault rifle is the second best weapon of the game: every mook carries one, so ammo for it is plentiful.
    • The game is all about Urban Warfare... Go on, charge that soviet checkpoint protected by an MG nest... It'll end up as it would IRL. Flank it by going through a damaged building though, and the barely trained conscripts manning it won't last long.
    • No one is accurate past 20 meters... Which is pretty much what would happen if you pit civilians who picked up guns in a hurry to defend their homeland against barely trained conscripts...
    • You are La Résistance. Act like it and cripple the enemy's logistics by demolishing supply helipads and bridges. It's called asymmetric warfare for a reason.
  • Redshirt Army: An interesting subversion, as the many nameless rebels under your command are shown to be extremely capable fighters and stand a high chance of survival if you play your cards carefully.
  • Respawning Enemies: In some levels an armored car or transport helicopter will periodically bring in reinforcements.
    • Defied Trope: You can blow up the helipad/bridge with C4, preventing reinforcements from coming in. Or, if you're feeling particularly vindictive, you can just blow up the transports as they come in.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Nope. Even disregarding how difficult it is to find ammo for them, they kinda suck. The only advantages are that it has more power and is more accurate.
  • Rousing Speech: After the resistance takes back the news studio in times square, Chris addresses his fellow Americans - turns into a Balcony Speech at the end.
  • Save Point: The manhole covers allow you to return to the rebel base and save or quicksave in the mission.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Almost every gun has poor accuracy at long range, but the shotgun is useless beyond a few feet. It makes up for this by being able to kill a typical mook in only two shots at close range.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Mario Bros. uniforms worn by the game's protagonist plumber brothers.
      • He is a plumber, who teleports through sewer pipes and can throw fireballs (molotovs). This is probably why they make a Mario reference.
    • In the beginning of the game, there's a movie poster starring Agent 47 from Hitman, IO Interactive's more well-known franchise.
      • When someone decides to kill the Big Bad, Phil says "Sure! Let's sneak into his cocktail party and put some cyanide pills in his glass!". This is exactly what you do in Hitman 2 to assassinate a Russian general.
      • Some trains carry the name "47 United".
      • In one of the news tickers, it's mentioned that newborn babies will have their Social Security numbers tattooed to their necks; Agent 47 has a barcode tattooed in the same place.
    • One of the lines your allies can call out when taking control of a mounted machine-gun is "Say 'ello to my little friend!"
  • Sniping Mission: You can also drop the sniper rifle for another weapon in the beginning; you'll be able to get another one later on.
  • Squad Controls: It might have been the Trope Codifier.
  • The Starscream: Mr. Jones, or rather Colonel Bulba, to both the Rebels and to the Soviets. Though ultimately his loyalty has always been to the latter.
  • Storming the Castle: Done twice, though the first is more of an infiltration.
    • Really kicks in during the final stage when you take Fort Jay on Governor's Island.
      • Pretty much every area of every level save three has this on a more subdued level, as it is necessary to knock out the local Soviet field HQ in order to clear an area.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Everybody except Chris dies instantly if they fall in the water.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Rocket Launchers and Sniper Rifles generally appear only where they would be the most useful, and generally only with enough ammo to be immediately useful.
  • The Unfought: Colonel/General Bulba disappears after The Reveal 3/4ths of the way through the game, and is nowhere to be seen during the final battle on Governor's Island.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Chris was just an everyman plumber to begin with. But when Chris gives his Rousing Speech to all of New York City, and when he and his men approach Governor's Island for the final assault, you can see just how far he's come as the leader of the American resistance. So much so that in the final fight, you cross the frozen water on a boat with Chris standing on the bow. Whatever the ultimate outcome, Chris becomes a very significant player in this Alternate History.
  • Treacherous Advisor: He was really the Big Bad all along, building La Résistance up so he could destroy it later and get the glory.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted. All of the weapons come from the enemy.
  • Vapor Ware: A sequel was announced six months after the game's 2003 release. It was supposed to have come out in late 2005. Little is known about it, except for an IO Interactive representative saying in 2007 that it was on the to-do list.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Colonel Bulba, who is not seen during the final liberation of New York.
    • The People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union's other major adversary, is never mentioned in the game. However, it's unknown if it became a major power or if it had a political fallout with the Union in this timeline.
    • Also in a meta-example America is being overrun by the Soviet war machine, and the US Army is nowhere to be found.
  • What If?: …the Soviets got the bomb first?
  • Wrench Whack: Your plumber's wrench is actually the best melee weapon in the game. And is also the one you score your first kill with.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: There are about a half-dozen different models for freedom fighters, and only one for each enemy type. A bit less noticeable for the latter, ironically, since they're all in uniform.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as Tatarin is killed, Colonel Bulba is promoted to General in his stead and he immediately orders the destruction of the very resistance movement he had deceived into helping him carry out this plot; luckily for everyone, his attempt to kill Chris fails miserably.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Duh. The resistance movement is called a terrorist group on the Soviet propaganda channel, SAFN.


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