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Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge
Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge is the next X-COM game in
everything but name. Freedom Ridge is being developed by Mythos
Games, the makers of the first and third X-COMs. As in those games,
players will get a heaping helping of turn-based tactical combat
wrapped inside a strategic game of resource management and research.
In addition, the game will use a 3D engine (NetImmerse, which was
used in Battle Isle: Andosia and is being used in Freedom Force,
a superhero game in development). The game will still primarily
play with an overhead view, but the engine will allow the camera
to drop down to first-person mode for aiming and should otherwise
provide for some dramatic visuals. The new engine also means that
the terrain will be fully destructible (a fancy way of saying you
can blow up stuff). Fans will also be happy to see action points
for turns, kneeling, prone positions, hit locations for targetting,
RPG-like stats for you soldiers, and even psionics. The story's
a bit different too. The lizard-like Saurons have conquered the
earth, so you're leading a band of resistance fighters.
Mark's Comments: The X-COM lineage, the Gollop brothers,
turn-based combat, getting to save the earth by laying some smack
down on the aliens it's all good, isn't it? Freedom Ridge
is surely at the top of the most wanted list of strategy game fans.
I gush like a thirteen year old girl reading Teen Beat whenever
think about it. It looks like Mythos is doing everything right,
but I really just have a couple of worries. I'm worried that Mythos
may not be able to recapture that wonderful UFO popular culture
feel they had with the first X-COM. The Sectoids were the Grays,
we had cattle mutilation, mind control...Mythos just nailed it.
But they sure didn't nail it in X-COM Apocalypse. (We are getting
Area 51 and the Men in Black in this game though!) My other reservation
is with the 3D engine. The screens look great, but I hope the game
doesn't ask me to be a movie director and find the best view all
the time. When I have a group of green squaddies under my command,
I don't want to be annoyed by constantly shifting camera views.
Tom's Comments: When X-Com came out, the material
was still creepy and intriguing. But now the Men in Black have been
co-opted by Art Bell and the X-Files. You can't swing a burned out
mouse without smacking into some game with an Area 51 level. And
aliens enslaving humanity just brings to mind crap like Battlefield:
Earth. So I'm disappointed that the Gollups are visiting what has
become the Grand Central Station of sci-fi/gaming motifs. But at
least they're bringing good-looking and robust technology to turn-based
gaming, something no one's really tried to do since Incubation.
And if anyone appreciates the importance of breaking things during
combat, it's the Gollup brothers: no game outside the X-Com series
has been able to capture the delicious thrill of firepower that
can actually breaks the environment. This cannot be stressed enough.
Having a gun that shoots bad guys is one thing, but having a gun
that can knock down walls is a whole other ballgame. Bullet hole
and scorch mark decals aren't enough. This kind of thrill takes
an engine built to be destroyed and this is what I'm counting on
Freedom Ridge to deliver.
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Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Mythos Games
Release Date: 2001