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Review: Frankenstien and Freelancer

June 4, 2011

This week, I have for you a classic of pre-Hays Code Hollywood and a game that’s part vehicle-based shooter, part Sci-Fi epic, and all awesome. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Frankenstein and Freelancer.

How do I even begin to describe the epic film that is 1931’s Frankenstein? I mean, it’s not like I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone out there, and if I do, what the hell. There’s a statute of limitations on things like this, and by my estimation, it’s about sixty years. Dr. Henry Frankenstein and his hunchbacked lab assistant Fritz have secretly pieced together a complete human body from the parts of various deceased corpses.

Frankenstein begins to prepare the final experiment while Fritz sneaks into a medical school to steal a brain for the monster, and since he is, as in all incarnations of the story, an incredible fuck-up, he destroys the healthy brain by dropping it on the floor, and has to settle for the brain of a criminal. The doctor implants the brain in the monster, and with his fiancée and old medical school professor watching, brings his monster to life with a bolt of lightning.

If you’re looking for me to tear into Frankenstein for being in black and white or for having less than spectacular sound, or for only being an hour and eleven minutes, you’re going to go away disappointed. It’s a classic of American cinema, a title it has well and truly earned, and I refuse to say a bad word about it. I’ll wait until Michael Bay fucks up a remake before I start complaining.

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I’m not sure how I should start describing Freelancer. Uh…okay, I got it now. Freelancer is what would happen if you took the space dogfighting from Star Wars and combined it with space pirates, forty five solar systems, hundreds of planets and space stations, a shit-ton of ships and weapons, Ian Ziering, George Takei, John-Rhys Davies, a storyline about parasitic aliens causing a war between the major “houses”-You know what, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So here’s the full story. In 2140, a civil war breaks out over control of the Sol solar system between two groups of colonists from Earth – The Alliance and The Coalition. Eventually, The Coalition gains the upper hand after the capture of Mars, and The Alliance sends five sleeper ships to the Sirius system, each one named for it’s patron nation. These ships – The Liberty (United States), Bretonia (United Kingdom), Kusari (Japan), Rhineland (Germany) and Hispania (Spain and Latin America) –  break through the Coalition blockade, and warp to Sirius.

Four of the ships make it to their destination, becoming the four major houses of the game. All of this happens in the opening cut scene, eight hundred years before the game proper actually starts. At the start of the game, Edison Trent (Ian Ziering) is on Freeport 7 in one of the border systems, about to finish a deal – a ton of boron for a million credits – when it is blown to hell by parasitic aliens. He just manages to get to an escape pod wit the buyer, and is then picked up by a freighter headed for Planet New York.

What follows is a twisting tale of sentient parasitic aliens that are taking over high ranking military and political figures in all four houses in order to start a war that will wipe out humans in the Sirius system. Why they do it this way instead of just making the humans board their ships and fly straight into the various suns…well, you got me. Presumably because it wouldn’t be much of a game otherwise.

I love this game. The visuals are absolutely stunning, the space combat is amazing, the trading system is rich, and the story is…pretty good. All in all, it’s a great space combat RPG whose only real problem is that it was overhyped. If you can find a copy, it’s worth it.

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