Our Revolt began years ago! Where were these guys? Review

Red Faction Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • THQ

Developer

  • Volition

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC
  • PS2

rating

Our Revolt began years ago! Where were these guys?

It’s official: next generation gaming is here and in full swing. Hopefully

that swing will get a great deal higher with the release of the NVIDIA powered

Xbox and the ATI powered GameCube.

So far, the next-gen road has been paved with good intentions, but has turned

out more than a few potholes.

Indeed, the Playstation 2 thus far hasn’t exactly won the hearts of gamers

the way Sony would have liked. The general lack of amazing software hasn’t done

much to bolster Sony’s reputation, and the few first person shooters we’ve seen

haven’t impressed us much at all. Would Red Faction?

Well, sort of. Red Faction is a good looking, well-designed FPS that

is teeming with bits of great fun and ballistic exhilaration. But ultimately,

the formulaic enemy AI, odd exclusion of mouse and keyboard support, frustrating

control and incessant platform-style jumping lead to a game that just isn’t

the mindblower you may have hoped for.

The story of Red Faction, which has been hyped heavily in its advertisements,

is frankly nothing really new or inspired. In the future, a mining facility

on Mars (run by ominous mega-corporation Ultor) has enlisted a small compliment

of Earth’s inhabitants as “indentured servants.” 40 acres and a mule

ring any bells? Yeah, well nearly the same thing happens on Mars. Disrespect

and brutality become the norm as guards and mine officials become indifferent

and callous towards the hard working miners. The tension rises and eventually

a riot breaks out, leading directly to a massive revolution.

Enter your character: Parker. Parker witnesses the malicious attack on a fellow

worker by an Ultor guard and decides to take action. Again, the story’s decent

but nothing inspired.

As tough-guy Parker, you will trek through the games 20 levels, dispatching

wave after wave of Ultor guards with a multitude of cool weaponry at your disposal.

At times you will be required to occasionally put on a disguise and sneak around

or escort allies to safety. There are also 5 different vehicles, which will

require your piloting and driving skills. The tasks are well rounded but fairly

traditional for an FPS.

Red Faction’s big selling point comes in the form of developer Volition’s

brilliant terrain deforming technology, Geo-Mod. Is your Spider-sense

tingling? Do you sense an enemy beyond that wall? Well, just pull out your all-purpose

rocket launcher and see how porous that wall can be. BOOM! There you go, a nice

sized hole big enough for Parker to walk right through.

The Geo-Mod engine is very cool! Ever want to blow the floor right out

from under the baddies? Geo-Mod says go nuts! This feature also opens up a whole

new world for finding and aquiring secret areas and goodies for those of you

with a little Lara Croft

in your blood. Deforming the level and making your own passageways kicks very

much ass and will hopefully be utitlized in more upcoming shooters.

Although to be perfectly honest, ‘redesigning’ the handsomely designed levels

in Red Faction is somewhat akin to tearing away beautiful gift-wrapping

just to get to the Christmas present lying beneath. Sometimes you just don’t

want to mess up the scenery, and in Red Faction, the level design is

almost too good to ruin. You really feel like you’re down in a mine that’s in

the midst of some sort of industrial molestation. There are canals through rock

that are obviously man-made.. And you’ll see huge subterranean structures with

architecture straight out of sci-fi movie. Very immersive.

However, the frustration that comes from excessive platform jumping, balancing

on slender ledges and stupid gun-fights on ladders can really try a geek’s ability

to suspend his disbelief. First-person platform jumping has never been much

fun, and Red Faction does little to change that.

Fortunately, the programmers put a little more effort into enemy AI…but just

a little. The AI can be smart at times, with enemies taking cover and crouching

behind solid objects to shoot or call for backup. But then they’ll do something

inane and inexcusable, like running up on a shotgun-toting Parker while clumsily

swinging a stun baton. Guess who wins that on. Or how about the guards not brushing

off plastic explosive that have been attached to them? They’ll just keep running

around screaming indefinitely until you press the shiny red button on your detonator

to end their misery. Cool feature, dumb AI.

But once you hear the CHICK-CHAK of the USA-10 Ultor Automatic Combat Shotgun

reloading, you’ll understand why the enemies are screaming. This holds true

for the entire Red Faction artillery. Parker is armed with 14 weapons

of pleasurable destruction, including various machine guns, assault rifles,

a riot shield and of course a rocket launcher that lets you see through the

many deformable walls.

I

just wish I could see more of my character than his left arm, though if the

rest of Parker looks like the rest of Red Faction, then I know I’m not

missing too much. Graphics are definitely good but not stunning. Character skins

are less than interesting and absent of any impressive texture detail. But buildings,

structures and people blow-up nicely and when blood splatters on walls, it actually

stays there. Just don’t expect any reflective shiny metallic or liquid surfaces.

What does shine is Red Faction’s multiplayer. While not as involving

as an Unreal deathmatch, Red Faction

does offer some wild ballistic action with a friend. Oddly, the split-screen

is passable and unobtrusive. You can play against a buddy and up to 4 bots or

it can be just you with up to 6 bots. This is pretty enjoyable with the right

amount of alcohol and the right friends.

But what pulls this experience down is the heavy learning curve for the control.

The PS2 analog sticks make first-person shooting a pain. You can hardwire your

brain to appropriately instruct your fingers, but you never feel exceptionally

proficient or comfortable with the control. With the way the levels are structured

and the ability to drive vehicles, the game screams for a third person perspective,

at least as an option. Sadly, it’s first-person all the way…which isn’t great

if you’re used to mouse and keyboard.

This would actually be okay if the game took advantage of the built-in USB

ports on the PS2, allowing you to just attach a mouse and keyboard and frag

away in comfort. But alas, there is no USB support, so you better get used to

those little sticks. Too bad.

The vehicles are a great addition, even if only for specific instances in the

game. The five vehicles include a mini submarine, a giant drilling machine on

treads, a fighter type aircraft, an all-terrain jeep and an APC. But the first-person

perspective with a control pad for the jeep and the sub are constantly hindering

the control and, in turn, the overall enjoyment.

In the end, Red Faction is a montage of innovation and disappointment.

It brings to the table a mixed feast generously laced with Geo-Mod fun and decent

gameplay, but the difficult control and platform jumping makes it harder to

swallow. Still, this is one of few genuinely fun and exhilarating shooters out

for the PS2 and is worth a good look.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3.5
Rating
Geo-Mod technology kicks ass
Great level design
Some really fun bits
Cool weapons
Bad game for first-person
Too much jumping
Tough control
No mouse/keyboard support