The most recent of the rapid-fire Strategic Mind releases, Fight For Freedom lives up to the name of its franchise with few surprises, for better or worse.
Developer: Starni Games
Publisher: Starni Games
Release date: 21 May, 2021
When I first played Strategic Mind: Blitzkrieg, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. It seemed like a title that wanted to be Panzer Corps, but a Panzer Corps that thought it was cool and modern by implementing low-budget cinematics and amateur voice lines. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it certainly wasn’t going to tear the crown away from Panzer Corps 2.
Strategic Mind: Spectre of Communism brought a bit more to the table, letting us play the campaign as the Reds. Though it fundamentally played the same, the change of flavor blew some life into it and made it stand out more on its own. It wasn’t the first time we’ve played as the Russians, but we’ve certainly played them far less than we’ve played the Germans. This torch has now been carried on by Fight for Freedom where we can play as either the yanks or the brits. These two factions may not revolutionize the wargaming genre, but giving us the choice of which to play is a new path for Strategic Mind.
Apple Pie & Baseball
As is the trend with the series, Fight For Freedom doesn’t shake things up very much from its predecessors. Its gameplay mechanics are what we’ve come to expect of them as a wargame in the same vein as the Panzer Corps series. You’ll be in command of a persistent army that you’ll be able to customize with new abilities and equipment as you progress. The equipment aspect still stands out to me as the most innovative portion, as you’ll frequently be tweaking it for whatever it is that you’re up against. Don’t forget your winter gear if you’re expecting temperatures in the negative!
Playing as the Americans or the British is what really differentiates this entry in the series from the others though. What’s rather impressive here is that both nations have separate campaigns and units to keep things interesting and to make it worth playing through as both forces.
In classic Strategic Mind fashion, I can tell you that it was a real treat playing the United States as a real-world resident of it. The unit voice lines are as stereotypical as you’d imagine and you can’t help but get a good chuckle in while you’re leading an Allied assault with “Red-blood Americans… with GUNS!” and “This ain’t Montana for sure, everything is tiny” awkwardly being yelled to you every minute or so. It’s also important to note that although there are plenty of big Allied names that show their faces, they’re clearly voiced by the same group of people that voiced the leaders in the other Strategic Mind titles. This is so apparent that a perceptive player would be able to pick out which characters had been done by which voice actors as shockingly little was done to differentiate them in any way. This is all before we even mention that they don’t sound even remotely like the historical figures themselves at all.
That said, these parts come together to make a surprisingly light and entertaining atmosphere for a game about World War II. I can’t say that these ‘flaws’ really ruined my experience as I’ve come to expect them and I’ve found myself endeared to the series even if I still struggle to figure out whether I’m laughing with or at Strategic Mind. Oh, and the music is legitimately excellent, no exaggeration, if that’s a key factor for you.
Treading Familiar Ground
Moreso than restating the intricate details of Strategic Mind, I feel that it’s more impactful to speak on the current trend with the series overall. Fight For Freedom is another entry in the series that is only really differentiated from the others at the gameplay level by the colors of uniforms and the models of the aircraft, remixed campaigns and scenarios, and a minor change that you might even miss here or there; the flavors change but the dish underneath doesn’t. With this being the fourth entry in the series with a fifth on the way toward the end of the year, I feel that all of these rapid-fire releases could have been DLC offered for the same base game or even a discount offered for those with other titles in the series already in their account. With strikingly similar gameplay, charging $30 a pop ($40 if we’re talking Blitzkrieg) seems extortionate. I feel as if I’m being nickle-and-dimed for slight variations on the same game that I’ve already purchased as even if I feel like I’m playing some masterfully designed editor or workshop content, I still feel like I’m playing something made from an in-game editor that could’ve been in the first game. There’s no question the content is enjoyable, but the price is quite high for slight variations on the title that we bought several games ago.
Fight For Freedom continues Strategic Mind’s trend of honing its image and adding plenty of new content for us to enjoy. What’s on offer here will be entertaining to those who have already been enjoying the series as the familiar gameplay and corny dialogue return in full swing. Though there’s nothing revolutionary enough to convert someone who wasn’t pulled in by previous entries, it’s worth it to check out if it’s caught your eye. The heavy-hitting question here isn’t whether or not it’s worth your time though, it’s whether or not it’s worth your money. If you’re buying this one all on its own, I’d say the price is just about right to me. However, if you’ve already purchased others in the series, you may want to wait for a sale to avoid feeling as if you’ve bought the same game multiple times. Unless, of course, you’ve been so enthralled by previous titles in the series that you’re just dying for new content. In that case, you’ll be thrilled with what’s waiting for you here.