Fighting fascism one missile at a time.
Revolution is our middle, uh, our last name here at GR. Whether it's boycotting absurdities like this, fighting against zombie inequality or conducting sit-ins at Frito-Lay for more cheese on our Doritos, we will fight the progressive good fight.
As it turns out, THQ has put a new spin on an old revolt, and the fight is indeed good. Red Faction II is a solid first-person shooter and a strong follow-up to last year's fan favorite. It doesn't possess the wildly immersive atmosphere of Medal of Honor: Frontline or Halo's sophistication in graphics and A.I., but it does provide a short yet intense shooter experience with credibly few breaks in the action.
Five years after the events on Mars, the Red Faction fights on against the brutal dictator Chancellor Victor Sopot and his new army of enhanced super-soldiers. But like any brat with too many toys, Sopot wants more. He creates an even more mindless subservient army of cyborg-ish thingies and condemns the original models to death.
That's your cue. You play the role of Alias, a demolitions expert recently slated for elimination. You and five others are the last six super-soldiers around. And yes, you are all imperialist dogs turned revolutionaries by the thought of being replaced and murdered. Just like the GR Staff!
The story is very familiar, and so is the gameplay. In a matter of 8-10 hours you will have lived through some truly riveting gun battles while progressing down a strongly linear path. Mow down everything in sight to gain access to the next area. There are brief moments of puzzle solving and pseudo stealth missions, but these bits only serve to slow up what the game does best, and that's providing exciting firefights.
As a super-soldier, you are stronger, faster and more heavily armed than most. As you travel through the game you will acquire 14 different weapons, many of which were seen in the last Red Faction. The rail gun that allows players to see and shoot through walls makes a welcome return, plus there are new shotguns, SMGs, heavy artillery, rocket launchers and grenade launchers. All have secondary fire options and some can be held two-fisted. Easily, the weapons and the frantic firefights are Red Faction II's silver bullets in the chamber.
Though not quite as well organized as Halo, the AI gets the job done nicely and is the crux of the game's intensity. Enemies duck for cover, split up and actually try to fake you out. Plus, the sheer number of attackers makes the AI pleasantly oppressive.
Roll this all together and the whole picture is a pretty one. Textures are sharp with better detail than the original. The coloring is also notable - it's vibrant yet muted enough to fit and appear believable. In addition, edges are curved with only some visible seams and hard corners. A thorough improvement!
It appears developer Volition has heeded the call for freedom of choice as well. Unlike its predecessor, Red Faction II supports USB mouse and keyboards, which makes the game much more enjoyable and precise. The analog control works well, but I have more dexterity in my hand than I do in my thumbs, so the option is appreciated.
While the gameplay is fairly standard, it does offer two essential forks on the path of formulaic FPS gameplay. One is the ability to man different vehicles. In Red Faction II you will come across a jet sub, hover jet, assault tank, and a suit of heavy battle mech armor. A couple of these massively destructive vehicles can be fun, but you really only pilot two. The other two merely let you operate the gun while AI takes the wheel. And don't think you will have free run or that the vehicles are to aide your travels through the game. Nope. The vehicles are there on specific levels and are mandatory to complete said level. Boo to that.
Geo-mod is another bit of a letdown. This is the technology to deform certain terrain in parts of the world. It is without a doubt better implemented in this edition, but it still feels underrepresented and not as free to the player to use as it should be.
And why is this game only offline? You get a decent multiplayer feature with various game modes and support for four players via a Multi-Tap. Bot support is included as is a number gamplay options to tweak, but this game screams for online support with the option to download new weapons, player skins, and maps. The cool weapons and Geo-mod potential are begging for this.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Red Faction II holds its place among the hierarchy of FPS games without losing ground. Great action and great weapons carry this game far. It's not the best, but it is undoubtedly one of the better ones.