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Three Moves Ahead Episode 74: Classic Game Analysis – Freedom Force w/ Ken Levine

July 20th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 4 Comments · Design, Interview, Podcast, Retro, Three Moves Ahead


Ken Levine from Irrational Games drops by the show to talk about what made Freedom Force so special. Is it an RPG or a strategy game? We discuss the virtues of pausable real time play, the fine line between homage and parody and learn about what games Ken plays when he is not writing kick ass game stories.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Justin Fletcher

    Great show, Troy. The Freedom Force series is one of my favorites, and Ken always has interesting insights (I still miss his View from the Middle column from CGM).

    I’ve always described the Freedom Force games as a love letter to comic books. The parody works because it’s infused with such a strong affection for the medium. And though the characters were clearly influenced by Marvel’s Silver Age pantheon, skipping the licensing rigmarole made the cast all the more memorable (ah, Microwave!).

    Ken shouldn’t beat himself up too much about how the pause mechanic was communicated. I got it right away, though I have to confess that I’m a devout manual reader. There were few things more satisfying than when you got into a flow, familiar with the timing of all of the different types of powers, and set up a perfect chain reaction of complementary effects striking one of the supervillains. And what agony when that sequence was slightly off or when your foe did something unexpected at the last moment that sent one of the squad flying across the map. Freedom Force was full of that kind of drama—the emergent narrative that you enjoy—coupled with the more traditional storytelling at which Ken excels.

    It’s a shame that so many people missed out on games with such personality and wit, with a rarely-used tactical system and a rarely-used theme (or rarely done well). Freedom Force is the first and last game I bought for my friends in order for it to get the attention I thought it deserved. Perhaps if I had been a better evangelist we might someday see the Bronze Age Freedom Force where they face a darker world. I’d love to see a Man Bot/Man o’ War team up where they criss-cross America examining the plight of the everyman and help Sea Urchin kick her drug habit.

  • Paul

    Man, I would’ve thought the comments here would be flooded. Over at GWJ there was a thread started just for this show. Strange.

  • Chris Floyd

    Thank you, Mr. Levine and Co., for Freedom Force. And thanks, Troy et al., for talking about it.

    Hopefully if any of the rest of us game developers find ourselves compelled by The Kill-A-Rilla Imperative, EA and Irrational will go gentle on the lawsuits.

  • Ken “The Machine” Levine. « Unearthed Arcana

    […] Levine, the man behind irrational studios and also quite an engaging speaker was on a recent episode of the 3 moves ahead podcast discussing the Freedom Force franchise. I’ve heard him before on […]