Review by Carlos M.
"A lot was promised, but what we get is an average FPS."
Red Faction promised to be a revolution when it introduced Geo-Mod, a system that allows you to blow up random walls and stuff in real-time. Hey, that sounds great, right?
The intro movie starts out with Parker, our hero, going to Mars in search of a better life. It didn't turn out that way. Ultor, his employer, put miners under very harsh conditions. Guards treated miners like dirt, and an epidemic is spreading that randomly kills the guy next to you. And so, ten seconds into the first level, Parker and the mining lot decides they've had enough and they start an armed rebellion led by Eos.
This is where the problems start. Right about now you can probably recognize the generic action/thriller plot. The hero "searching for a better life", the plague, the company/government in Mars that's allegedly behind the plague, and the armed rebellion. Red Faction offers absolutely nothing new in the Storyline front, and shows us a plot that has been used in a hundred gazillion futuristic action games and films.
What about graphics then? The game looks great. Characters, vehicles, explosions look excellent. I especially like the breaking glass effect, the developers even put in a glass house level they used during the development stage! Reflections look ugly though and could have been better. On the sound front, I'd have to say it's very well executed as well. Not one sound effect feels out of place, although certain parts of the soundtrack sound very generic. Overall, very good.
Graphics and Sound: 9/10.
Breaking Glass Effect:: 10.1/10!
Kill guards, pick up weapons. Move along the open hallway that conveniently leads to your next objective. Kill boss character. Move along the next hallway that leads to your next objective, getting ahold of an Ultor officer. The game is completely linear and involves killing guards and picking up weapons. Nothing new.
AI. The AI of the game is flat-out terrible. Guards will rush at you, and start side-stepping when they're four feet away screaming "Miner Scum!" When you shoot them in the foot, they'll retreat back ten feet with their hands over their head. "Don't hurt me, please, I'm not armed!" while holding a big-ass Fusion Rocket Launcher over his head - go figure. When he's done crying because you threatened harm, they'll go back to rushing you while saying "Die Miner!" Rinse, repeat.
Your friends aren't particularly helpful, and will die twelve seconds after you meet them. If they weren't scripted to die, they're totally rubbish in battle. So, most of the time you're spending the game alone. Save for the odd thirty seconds you had a couple of friends until got killed without even firing a shot.
Neutral characters. There are quite a few of them in the game, but most of the time they're completely useless. Anytime they hear a gunshot they panic. Medics will often refuse to heal you, they're crying in a corner because you shot all the guards that were taking them hostage.
Vehicles. The vehicle implementation in this game is very good. You get to drive a big-ass rock driller, a jeep, a sub, and a fighter among other things. Unfortunately, there are too few of them in the game and NONE in multiplayer. You're only starting to have fun with the big drill when you drive into an electric gate, and the drill's disabled. Turns out that's all the drill was for. The sub was just put there as an excuse to go from one underwater base to another, with little action in between (some shootings, but nothing spectacular). There's a part where you get to shoot stuff with the fighter while your friend tries to open the escape route, but that's the only fun part in the vehicles in the game. I could think of lots of places to put the vehicles in (notably multiplayer), but the vehicles were too unused to make any difference.
Geo-mod. It's all you've heard about if you've heard of Red Faction. During the first level, there are a lot of opportunities to use the Geo-mod. There are plenty of secret tunnels you can make holes through, and they make your journey shorter. An enemy tank appears on a rock bridge, so what do you do? Destroy the bridge and watch the tank fall into the deep ravine! Oh, joy.
But once you drive the driller into the electric gate, all the Geo-Mod opportunities suddenly disappear. All of a sudden, all you shoot get indestructible walls and unbreakable glass! What the hell? You can't even blow the locks off simple chicken-wire doors or damaged elevator doors, much less real working doors. How uncool is that? Geo-Mod is rarely used after the first level, and you are presented with only one other time you have to use it - to get past a sealed door. And during that time, you could have easily just gone into the hallway and took a slightly longer route, not using explosives. The game used Geo-Mod as a selling point, but never used it beyond half the first level. What a waste.
I don't blame the developers entirely though, for not using Geo-mod much in the game. In the configuration program, there's a "Geo-Mod Cache" option, where you can allocate a certain part of memory for Geo-Mods. The amount of memory you specify is directly proportional to how many Geo-Mods you can make. Volition simply didn't want people with low-end systems complaining they couldn't advance in the game because couldn't make any more holes. Let's face it, the computers back then didn't have a gig of RAM standard. That said, under-used, Geo-Mod contributed nothing to the gameplay experience.
Multiplayer. We have a Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag - game modes which are present in every single generic multiplayer FPS in history. Unfortunately, the multiplayer's just vanilla FPS multiplayer that's slower. Vehicles could have made a difference, but again, none were used in multiplayer. Geo-Mod was used more heavily in multiplayer, since everyone uses the server's specified Geo-Mod cache, but this really didn't make up for the fact that RF's multiplayer is just Quake 3, with different weapons, without the powerups, and a lot slower.
Replayability? Single-player is too linear and you'll discover nothing new when you replay it, and multiplayer simply doesn't offer anything new at all. The only thing you'll go back to a lot here is the Glass House.
Red Faction has a lot of potential. With Geo-Mod and vehicles, it could have revolutionized the genre. They went on largely unused though, and Geo-Mod could have simply been too much for the machines of the time. As a result, what could have been an excellent, cutting-edge PC game turned out to be an average FPS with a generic story and generic gameplay. What a disappointment Red Faction is.
Overall, a very average, generic 5/10.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 10/31/05
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