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Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge

The Specs

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.

The Speculation

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

Genre: Strategy

Release Date: 2001

January 12, 2001

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