Freedom Force is a real-time tactical role-playing game developed by Irrational Games and published by Electronic Arts in 2002. The player guides a team of superheroes as they defend Patriot City from a variety of villains, monsters, and other menaces. A sequel, Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich was self-published in early March, 2005.
The game is noted for its humorous but respectful evocation of the Silver Age of Comic Books; in particular, its visual style emulates the art style of the Marvel Universe co-creator, Jack Kirby. Also important is its versatile, expandable game engine, which has allowed a considerable fan-community to spring up. Total conversions featuring Marvel and DC Comics characters have been created.
The characters of Freedom Force are the creation of Irrational Games artist Robb Waters. Waters, who has been involved in the videogame industry for over a decade, including the creation of the characters of Thief: The Dark Project as well as the PC title System Shock. In concert with game-designer Ken Levine, Waters created an homage to Kirby with both the personality and artistic-expression of Freedom Force's characters and villains.
From January to June 2005, the story of the first Freedom Force game was retold in a six-issue comic book miniseries published by Image Comics. This series was scripted by Eric Dieter and featured Jack Kirby-influenced artwork by Tom Scioli. Dieter also wrote the series and served as community manager for the official website's forum, "Freedom Fans".
The alien mentalist Mentor, fleeing Lord Dominion and his invading forces, heads towards Earth in a small spaceship containing many canisters of the mysterious "Energy X." Lord Dominion's ships pursue Mentor and destroy his craft just outside the Earth's atmosphere; the blast scatters containers of the substance over the metropolis of Patriot City. Energy X strikes several of the city's inhabitants, giving them superpowers that typically echo their personality traits (for instance, Minuteman's staunch patriotism and El Diablo's fiery temper) or draw on the situation they were in when energized (e.g., The Ant or Nuclear Winter). Most of the game is set in Patriot City, but a number of other locations and time periods are used, including magical realms, prehistoric times, and realms entirely removed from time and space.