See that wall? Not anymore!
When you look at games that have been recently released, and compare them to games from 5 or so years ago, you can really see a lot of progress in the way of graphics and sound. But, as for the 'fun' factor, well there isn't much progress. Games from yester-year can still be as enjoyable, if not more so, than the stuff you get today. Sure you have to put up with mediocre graphics and AI that is all A and no I, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
Red Faction, by THQ and Volition, is an example of a gem from days gone by.
By today's standards, the graphics are dated, the AI's pretty moronic and there's lots of textural issues, but when a game is this much fun, you should be willing to overlook that sort of thing, unless you're a real nit-picker who wants everything perfect. In that case, it'd probably be best if you left now.
The story of Red Faction is actually rather coherent and plausible, which is rare in a FPS. (I'm looking at you, Duke Nukem 3D) In Red Faction, you play as a miner called Parker. Parker works for a company called Ultor, a greedy mining company with a giant claim of the resources on Mars. There has been a bit of tension between miners and the guards lately, as someone named Eos has been putting up flyers urging miners to be ready for a revolt against Ultor soon. The miners are very eager to join this rebellion, as they've been getting the short end of the stick for quite some time now, and also due to rumors that Ultor is responsible for a plaque that has been killing miners. All this has turned the entire situation to a giant powder-keg, only needing a single spark to blow it sky-high. A spark named Parker.
Now, as everyone knows, the defining factor of any FPS that makes it stand out in an overcrowded genre is the guns. This game has quite a few, 15 to be exact, and they all pack a mean punch. There's your staple pistol and silencer, a sub-machine gun, a sniper rifle, a shotgun, an assault rifle and a rocket launcher, but there's also some rather exotic ones, like a riot shield, a stun baton, a flame thrower , a railgun (don't see enough of those nowadays!) and a Fusion Rocket Launcher, which creates a much larger explosion than one could possibly need, but takes ages to reload. Which is fine, given that the enemy would probably be dead from the original blast.
While playing Red Faction, I actually was quite surprised to find a couple of controllable vehicles. Now, I know that this isn't exactly new, but to see it in a game this old was rather surprising. You get to control 5 vehicles over the course of the game, those being a jeep with a machine gun, an Aesir fighter, a sub, a drilling machine and a very large APC. This may sound cool, but it just doesn't work, as you are forced to use mouse steering to control these vehicles. That is a real pain in the butt. It's still fun, but not as much as it should be. You also only encounter the driller once, so use it when you can.
And use you will. Red Faction is an all-time classic due to the Geo-mod technology that inhabits it. For those not in the know, Geo-mod allows the player to, using explosives, destroy walls and carve new routes through the rock. Now, obviously not everything can be blown apart, but you'll be amazed at how much can. Door locked? No problem, make a new door through the wall. Enemy APC? Blow the bridge up, dropping it down and removing the threat. The potential is just staggering. Plus, you get to blow up a lot! Now, that is cool.
Once you've finished blowing your way through the single player campaign (which will take about 3 or so days, or about 12 hours on medium), you'll want to take your destructive rampage online. Strangely enough, Red Faction still has quite an online following, so you'll probably find a populated server to join. I can't comment any further on that, as I'm yet to take it online, so you'll find out for yourself.
What I can comment on is that, once Red Faction gets boring for you (as if!), you should try some mods. Red Faction actually has quite a lot of modding potential, and at Levels4You, a website I am a staff member for, maps and mods are regularly being added to the downloads, so finding a mod you like can't be that hard.
Now, like you can expect from an aging relic, it ain't much to look at. The graphics are dated, and the textures are not very detailed. The AI leaves a lot to be desired as well. I simply took it as an incentive to blow up those ugly, ugly walls.
But, ugly or not, this is one premium package. Due to it's age, you'll likely need to search online auction sites and second-hand stores for a copy, but if you find it, Red Faction will prove to be one of the best FPS's ever created. Ever.