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Posted on Sep 24, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Forge of Freedom Review

By James Lombardi

The game provides depth past most grand strategy games, by allowing multiple levels of control over how battles play out. The player that wants to control more of the small nuances of battle can leave the strategic level area and move to a hex-based tactical map. This allows for a superior tactician to squeak victory out of the more tenuous engagements. At the same time it allows the player to skip through the tactical battle for those clear victories, or defeats, by allowing the computer to auto-solve the battle through quick combat. It is not uncommon in games for this level of control to feel tacked on or simplistic, however this is not the case in Forge of Freedom. The tactical combat system is a fully robust game in and of itself. Depending on one’s individual interest, the strategic level of game could almost feel as a means to frame and provide context for the tactical battles.

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In quick combat there is still a degree of control in the battle as the player and the computer set "zones" to define the behavior of each. The computer then auto resolves the combat, taking into account modifiers based on the zone each brigade is placed in. Ultimately, this quick battle option allows for a good balance between quick resolution and still giving some degree of control over the outcome of the battle even after the forces are moved into contact with each other. Finally, for those who want to limit their control over battle outcomes to the strategic level movements, an instantaneous option allows for a completely hands off approach.

From a presentation standpoint, the game has great era music and decent sound effects to up the immersion factor of the game. The music, shouting, and other background noises provide a good touch to the game. In terms of visuals, the strategic level map is clean and very high quality. The strategic map has a wonderful handcrafted look that fits great with the overall immersion of the game. The menu graphics could do more to stand out, but are passable for the game. Actually moving around the interface and learning what data and controls are found where takes some time to get master. Overall the game presents visuals that are required and with enough polish to keep the player comfortable in the game. The only downside is a personal nitpick – the game only runs in one resolution and unfortunately does not allow for a windowed mode in the game. This presents some difficulties if you run a computer in a fairly high resolution and want to alt + tab between the game, the manual or other applications.

The bottom line with Forge of Freedom is that it is a deep game that fills a relatively empty niche for the gamer willing to devote some time to learning the game. It comes with a tough learning curve, but also gives a sense of accomplishment when players begin to understand how to succeed in the game. It provides deep historical detail with the ability to explore history by trying alternative strategies. Finally, as with many games created by a small development team, Forge of Freedom has been thoroughly supported with a series of patches and developer interaction with the community. A new patch introducing substantial changes is due out very shortly, providing devoted players not just with bug fixes here and there, but tweaking the game to provide a more robust challenge. A fan of richly detailed grand strategy games, or the American Civil War era will be greatly rewarded for spending time exploring Forge of Freedom.

Related Links:

Matrix Games Website

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1 Comment

  1. great game! if you love the civil war you will love this game.

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