Review by p1r4t8r
During its development 'Red Faction' was hyped as a 'revolution' for the first person genre. Using a new engine named the 'GeoMod' the game boasted fully deformable terrain in real-time. While all this sounded great, the reality is far from the potential, as this is not the revolution it was hyped up to be. What you have here is your basic linear first person shooter that allows you to make big holes with even bigger guns. 'GeoMod' aside, how does the game really play?
'Red Faction' is set in the not-so-distant future. Man has colonised Mars, setting up a vast mining colony. Lured by the promise of adventure and easy money, people arrive by the hundreds. What they find on Mars is far from what they expected. The food is lousy, the working conditions terrible, and miners are beaten up by the Ultor Corporation's guards on a constant basis. Few ever make it back to Earth. To make matters worse, a mysterious plague is running rampant throughout the mining colony, spread by unsanitary living conditions. A revolution is on the horizon…
You play as a man named 'Parker' who gets caught in the middle of a brawl between a guard and a fellow miner, which soon breaks out into a revolt with you right at the centre of it all.
While the story starts off great it quickly loses its momentum. There is no character development; you rarely see any motive for the characters actions, or any real reasons.
It's a shame considering how good the story could have been had it been fleshed out a bit more.
As mentioned earlier, 'Red Faction' features it's own 3D engine, made by the developers themselves. The engine, named the 'GeoMod;' allows players to destroy and deform the environment around them in real time. See that wall over there? Want to blast a chunk out of it? Just shoot it with a rocket launcher. The potential of the engine is amazing, but sadly it is thoroughly underused throughout the game, making it more of a gimmick than a real worthwhile feature. The first level shows the engines true power, allowing you to destroy a bridge with a convoy truck on it by shooting the bridge in a few strategic places. Things go downhill from here though, as not every surface is deformable, in fact only very few are. You still have to hunt down a key or hidden switch to open a simple door.
Otherwise, the 'GeoMod' engine isn't all that spectacular, especially when compared to games such as 'TimeSplitters.' The colours orange, brown and grey are horribly overused, making each mine look the same as the last. A little variety would have been nice, as you soon grow tired of seeing the same surroundings over and over.
'Red Faction' features a nice two-player mode, with up to four bots. The games speed is kept at a near constant pace, even when both players are shooting rocket launchers and deforming the terrain.
The glass shattering effects deserve a special mention, as the effect is so cool that you won't be able to walk past a panel of glass without shooting it.
The weapon models are nice and chunky, and they really do look powerful. There are also a few vehicles throughout the game, and the models for these are very good.
There is a downside to the graphics however, as each level is split up with various loading points. While they were placed in areas that don't disrupt the game play they are a constant annoyance, and they take much longer to load than most would prefer. There are even occasions when there are two load sectors less than twenty seconds apart, which soon became rather frustrating, disrupting the flow of the game.
Otherwise, 'Red Faction' features a solid graphics engine, and is a good example of the power that the PlayStation2 is really capable of.
The sound in 'Red Faction' is fairly good, featuring some decent music and average sound effects.
The music is an assortment of various techno beats, which work well with the game and fit the atmosphere quite well. The theme played at the main menu screen is rather catchy, but otherwise there are very few memorable tracks.
The voice acting isn't too bad, and each characters voice seems to fit their picture, and you'll constantly get spoken mission updates. The taunts of the guards when you are fighting are a bit lame, as they tend to say the same things over and over again. It wouldn't have hurt if there had been a few more lines put in there, but it does start to wear thin on the nerves. Sometimes you can hear the guards chattering amongst themselves, which was a nice touch, and often gives you a bit more insight into the motives of the Ultor Corporation.
The weapon sound effects were a mixed bag. Some of the weapons; mainly the explosive weapons, sounded excellent, but the machine guns seemed to lack 'oomph' and didn't sound anywhere near as powerful as they looked.
The explosions sounded amazing however, and you could hear the rubble crashing against the floor with each blast.
So what new features does 'Red Faction' offer that other first person shooters do not? Besides the 'GeoMod' engine, 'Red Faction' is your standard corridor based first person shooter. That's not to say it's a bad game, just that it has all been done before, it's not the revolution it was hyped up to be but it's still a good game by all accounts.
'Red Faction' has a total of twenty levels, some of these fought in one of five different vehicles. The vehicles are great fun to pilot, and allow you to drive not only on land, but also in the air and underwater. Each one handles exceptionally well, especially the submarine and airship. The vehicles all have weaponry, which can be loads of fun to fool around with. The submarine fires missiles that are great for fighting opposing subs, the ATV (all terrain vehicle) has a machine gun mounted at the rear and so on. The driller was an especially cool vehicle, allowing you to drill into the surrounding terrain, and even run over enemies that got in it's way.
There are a total of fifteen weapons for you to use in 'Red Faction,' including a pistol, submachine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, and a rail-gun. The rail-gun was perhaps one of the more original weapons, allowing you to shoot people through walls, through use of an infer-red scope. A special mention should go to the remote mines, that when thrown onto a guard results in them dropping their weapons and running around screaming. Every weapon has an alternate fire, although this usually only changes the rate of fire. Otherwise though, the weapons were hardly original, but provided plenty of thrills none-the-less.
'Red Faction' has a lot of wasted potential, the engine could have allowed for some truly non-linear gameplay, but as it stands it's little more than a simple gimmick. Blasting a hole in the environment is all very well and good, however it doesn't add to the game play in any real way. To make things worse the mission updates throughout the game are guilty of holding your hand to a certain degree, leaving very little room for experimentation as you always seem to be told what to do next.
'Red Faction' does have a few draw cards up its sleeve. The two-player mode is great fun, especially when a few bots are thrown into the mix. The maps are nicely designed, and even have secret rooms and passages, usually found by blasting a hole in a surrounding wall. Sadly though, there is only one multi-player mode, 'Death Match' and there isn't even an option to form teams. This seems rather lacking when compared to most other multi-player games available, and makes 'Red Faction' seem rather rushed in some regards. It would have been great to see some two-player co-operative maps.
One good thing about 'Red Faction' is the ability to save anywhere, something that most console shooters do not offer.
With twenty levels, 'Red Faction' is quite a long game, and it'll take you more than a few hours to complete, not to mention the two-player mode.
Game Play: 8
Life Span: 8
+ 'GeoMod' engine
+ Excellent graphics
+ Save anywhere
+ Two-player mode
- Wasted potential
- Repetitive levels
- Vehicles underused
- Loading sections
'Red Faction' is a great first person shooter, however it is far from the revolution that it was hyped up to be. The 'GeoMod' engine is underused, and considering its immense potential, is a real shame. Don't be put off though, 'Red Faction' is still one of the best shooters available on any console, and is sure to provide a few hours of solid gaming time provided you don't believe the hype.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 04/17/03, Updated 04/17/03
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