Review by Tom Camfield

"Mundane"

Now Venus, there's an exciting planet, full of electric storms. Or Jupiter, with it's massive blemish. But, if I was going to write a game based on another planet, I think I'd choose Mercury, and have players battling it out in the hot, golden wasteland.

Red Faction, however, is based on Mars, probably the most overused planet in the solar system. Why it's based there is anyones guess, since they really don't make use of it at all. Sure, when you move outside it looks like a desert, but it could be Ohio for all I know.

The plot is the usual rubbish, with miners facing poor conditions and their superiors behind a plague called (go on, you can get it) The Plague which is infecting the workers. Instead of forming a trade union, you and your buddies have decided to take up arms, which seems a little over the top, but it's a good enough excuse for a first person shooter.

Not that it's a very good game.

Weapons are terribly unbalanced, with new ones replacing the old rather than complementing them. The sniper rifle doesn't reward head shoots as such, merely hitting the opposition will kill them, so there's no real skill behind it's use. Explosives have a very limited effect, so throwing a grenade into a room is unlikely to hurt anyone unless it falls by their feet.

Perfect Dark (and the film Eraser) gets a nod with the Rail Gun, a powerful laser that can blast through just about anything and kill with a single shot. It's a joy, but you'll end up using it and nothing else.

Enemies will run away when they're hurt, but only to run back again afterwards. They certainly don't seem to work together. The monsters (surely you guessed The Plague was a by-product of genetic experiments) are dull, copying Half Life for the most part. You get big end of level bad guys, but they don't seem very effective, and the final boss seems to die from one shot of the Rail Gun.

Red Faction was due to herald a new dawn for first person shooters with a blindingly obvious idea: should you be faced with a door that wouldn't open, you could blow it off it's hinges. This was a lovely thought, no more searching for hidden switches or keys, the freedom to explore with your weapons as well as your feet. Glory. Unfortunately, while some doors and most scenery can be destroyed, you still run up against blast proof glass and the like. Good idea, bad execution.

Still, you can leap into vehicles, which is a nice distraction, but not a game saving one.

In summary, it's everything you've seen before, but not as good. Avoid like The Plague. Aha-ha ha ha.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/25/02, Updated 08/25/02


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