Written by Christian White XNVR
FREEMAN: GUERRILLA WARFARE REVIEWJANUARY 17, 2018 REVIEW
I find some much needed cover behind a sturdy tree, hearing the bullets of a fast approaching enemy force tearing into the wooden flesh and ricocheting off the near rock formations. Upon realising I’m down to my last clip I look around for any nearby friendlies that could lend a helping hand, no use, all dead, it is at this moment I think to myself, I really should have planned this better.
Freeman: Guerrilla warfare is the new title from USA based KK Game Studio and even though I was only playing an early development release demo there was more than enough here to sink my teeth into and really get a feel for what kind of beast this is going to be. At first, I was sceptical, thinking that it would be just like any other first person shooter that I've played, where I’d go up against an easily defeatable force, a true one man army! I am pleased to announce that I wascompletely wrong; when KK Game Studio said they wanted to create a strategic game with a focus on logistics and tactics they were not just posturing. Heading into any fight, even one against a group fewer in number than your own, can be fatal if you haven’t prepared and planned accordingly. Travelling between towns and recruiting as many people as possible will only help so much as if you do not have a sound enough strategy you’ll just be sending more people to their death. The fierce nature of the combat in this game is a real achievement, I started my first battle not having a clue what was going on and was admitted a thorough and well deserved thrashing.
Upon encountering a group of enemies you are told exactly the kind and number of troops you would facing off against, and if you choose to continue you will then have the chance to plan out in detail which of your units will move forward, the path they take and the attitude they should take, slow and steady or charge in all guns blazing.
Now into the fray; watching your men advancing across the battlefield in their assigned path you can choose to take point or bring up the rear and observe which is absolutely how I chose to proceed after my truly embarrassing first battle. Be sure to take full advantage of cover as these are not your normal enemy A.I, as the AI have been created to near perfection, they can choose to pick off individuals, allowing for realistic feeling battles. I found that I was running from cover to cover before carefully peeking out to scan the horizon for a quick glance at an enemy in the distance, only to get shot at until I hid behind it again, waiting for the shooting to stop before I could repeat the process.
I was expected to strategically plan the movements and tactics of multiple units in addition to having to be an eagle eyed sharpshooter and possessing catlike reactions. The feeling of tension as you advance not knowing where your enemy is, how many are heading your way, do they have a sniper? By the time I felt I’d got the hang of the game I was exhausted from being on edge for what I then realised had been hours, the sun had set, girlfriend gone to bed and dinner cold but I loved every second of it. I was in a rather strange position, this is a title that that wants to be many things and so far it is excelling in all of them; for a game that is still in development they have already made a fantastic FPS experience.
When it comes to the travel, trading and recruiting aspects of the game I found that I had to be quite forgiving, as this is a very early version of the game there is still a lot of polishing to do. I was greeted by a vast expanse of countryside dotted with small settlements and roving bands of enemies of varying sizes that I would undoubtedly have to deal with at some point but not right now; I’m in need of supplies! I slowly make my way to the nearest town to see what price I can get for the spoils of the previous encounter as well as checking out what equipment I can purchase to increase my chances of surviving through the next one; unsurprisingly I see many nice, shiney items that I can’t quite afford yet but a plentiful supply of ammo that I definitely can and abuse. The prices of the items seem fair and not unobtainable, which gives me hope for the near future yet lets me know I have a little more struggling to do. While in the town I thought I would also check out what units were available for recruiting and I was pleasantly surprised to find that a good balance of low level and varied units to add to my growing force at a price that would not completely wipe me out, allowing me to save money for the purpose of upping the level of those troops later once they’ve acquired enough experience.
If there would be anything I could change about the open world travel it would be to have some way of travelling a little faster. I realise that as you progress you can acquire vehicles that will allow you to speed across the vast landscape with the greatest of ease. However an early on stamina bar that would allow you temporarily move with a bit more haste may give a feeling of quicker progression when travelling greater distances. The in game menus are currently very basic in terms of appearance and do remind me of games from the late 90’s/early 00’s. Not that this is a particularly bad thing and doesn’t affect the gameplay, but it does seem to bother me a little considering how slick the rest of the game is. It’s only a small issue and I am probably being a little petty but that is a change I will be looking for with every game patch and update. Talking of problems with the menus there also seems to be the occasional glitch causing there to be no items to show in the store or no units to appear for recruiting in their respective menu sections. This has only happened to me in almost a week of gameplay so my concerns are not all that great. For the vast majority of my play time I have not encountered any bugs, an achievement that even seems beyond the big AAA titles, meaning that Freeman: Guerrilla Warfare has already endeared itself to me on that strength alone.
Graphically the game is definitely looking good, especially when you consider the fact that it is being developed by a small and clearly devoted indie team, and Freeman still has a way to go before it’s done. During the FPS firefights, not only do the textures look crisp with plenty of definition, but also all the scenery and weapon models appear smooth and detailed, as though a lot of time and effort went into getting them looking perfect. The maps look cluttered and open at the same time, giving you plenty space to move around. The open world, is well defined, again the textures are fairly spot on and the character models are every bit as good as they need to be. In all honesty, given the distance from which you’re viewing the small models from, there is not a great deal of graphical complexity required. The animations also appear smooth and natural, adding to the immersion and realism.
To sum up, Freeman: Guerilla Warfare is a treasure trove of joyful challenges through which you’ll test not only your FPS prowess but also your foresight to plan, prepare and organise. I would like to add a personal note from myself, and the rest of the XNVR team. We’ve been given a real treat with this title, an excellent combination between challenging action and a wider strategic theater, into a game that I am very much looking forward to when it releases.