Final Liberation gives you the chance to command your very own army of chickens
For those of you who've never picked up a 20 sided die or filled out a character sheet, Warhammer 40,000 is a classic role-playing game set in the distant future of humanity. Final Liberation takes place in this universe. Orks have become humanity's greatest adversary and the endless struggle for control is the setting for the game. As Lord Commander of the Imperium of Man, it is your job to lead your troops to victory over the Space Ork Horde.
Final Liberation, from SSI, is yet another strategy game which actually seem to be raining from the skies these days. The game is turn-based, which requires far more strategy than its real-time cousins (because you actually have time to think). The maps that your battles are fought upon consist of squares, or rather, diamonds, since you see everything from a three-quarters perspective. There are two different ways you can play the thirty-mission campaign, by moving all your units in one turn, or by moving only one attachment of units and then switching turns. I prefer the "all in one turn" method because you're done in one shot, instead of constantly going back and forth.
The game is played like most other strategy games. If you win a mission, you see a large map of the world and choose your next goal. You can move all your regiments around on this large map, so you have total control of your army throughout the game. After defeating an area, you are allotted resource points which can be put towards new troops or the replacement of casualties.
Strategy plays a huge role in deciding victories in Final Liberation. You really have to pay attention to where all your troops are located and manage their movements wisely. You also need to know the strengths of weaknesses of your units in order to fight effectively. Many factors have to be taken into account while playing, such as line of sight, movement points, morale, and hit percentage. It really makes you think.
One thing I liked about Final Liberation is that the designers didn't put in fancy 3D graphics, high-budget movies, or other bells and whistles in order to impress the player. Instead, they stuck to the basics and made the game quick and easy to play and understand. It really keeps the feel of a paper, pencil, and dice role-playing games of the past, except you no longer need a pencil sharpener.
The graphics in Final Liberation weren't neglected though. The 85 or so units are highly detailed and well animated. They range from tiny groups of Space Marines to towering robots called Titans. The maps are mostly made up of blocky-looking objects, but they're crisp and get the job done. They range from deserts, to towns, to industrial sites, to military sites. The maps aren't especially large either; they're more like average-sized maps from other strategy games.
My biggest complaint is that the game is too repetitive. You aren't allowed to build any structures or research new units. Yes, there are 85 differnt units, but they all basically do the same thing: shoot. Perhaps the designers didn't want to follow the Dune 2 paradigm, but non-stop fighting gets tiring after a while. Final Liberation is like a string of consecutive chess games. You lay out your troops, fight it out, and then move on to the next battle.
Another thing I didn't really enjoy was the system of morale points. At the start of a battle, each side has an equal amount of morale, but this is diminished or raised depending in how your units are fairing. If a side's morale drops to zero, it automatically loses. Your troops also have a suppression percentage. If this goes too high, the unit will flee. A lot of the time you'll have a big gang of units killing everything in its path, one of your units will get killed, and this will cause several nearby units to run away. This is totally ridiculous and frustrating. Also, your overall morale seems to drop a lot just for getting shot, and it sometimes doesn't go back up for killing enemies. So, you can kill every enemy and not lose one unit, and still have a near-fatal morale. The system is weird an inconsistent. It's true that troops should run away when against incredible odds, but not when they're kicking ass.
Although not a big part of the game, the full motion video deserves note because it's pretty horrible by today's standards. The problem is that it's extremely blocky, which is unfortunate since it looks like they spent a good deal of time on the filming. It looks like an mpeg file that is meant to be seen in a small window, stretched out to fill your whole screen.
Final Liberation is fun to play for a while, but gets frustrating and boring after a few missions. Besides the solo campaign, there is a multi-player option that allows up to four players, and there is also a quick battle option for short games. However, this is really a game for hard-core strategists and big fans of Warhammer 40K. Everyone else should check out the other strategy games out on the market which are much more polished and have greater depth.