Red Faction II
Review by RyuGB
"Join the faction! Just make sure you only sign up for the awesome multi-player shootouts!"
The original Red Faction was one of the first genuine hit titles of the FPS genre for the PS2. It hailed beautiful and smooth graphics (For the time.), an interesting story of miners turned slaves turned kicking the butts of their captors, and spotlighted Volition's new geo-mod technology which literally allowed players to open up the environments by shooting holes through it. The ability to blow holes through walls to kill enemies on the other side sure was a cool strategic addition to the FPS stable, but ultimately, failed to meet it's true potential due to the fact it wasn't all that widely used over the course of the game. Still, the title sold in droves, making many gamers drool for a sequel.
Rather then just let PlayStation 2 owners tackle the next Red Faction outing, THQ opted to let Xbox owners in on the fun as well. (Albeit a full six months after it landed on PS2.)
However, Xbox owners get the last laugh since the multi-player has been outfitted with a number of new maps; thus bringing the count to a whopping 60 maps!
The original Red Faction took place on the planet mars, but the new installment brings the blazing shooting action back to Earth. (Sound like another space shooter sequel we know? CoughHalo2Cough.) (Well, not the mars bit, but I'm sure you know what I mean)
Chancellor Sopot a corrupt dictator that rules the world under the guise of bringing glory to the commonwealth utilizes nano-technology to transform a bunch of senseless fools, err volunteers, into super soldiers. Every one of these soldiers possessed strength, speed, and sheer brainpower that outshined any soldiers on the planet.
However, it wasnt very long before Sopot viewed his creations as a threat, and declared them enemies of the state. He then charged his Elite Guard to hunt them down and wipe them all out at all costs.
One-Player Story Mode:
The one player story thrusts you into the combat boots of one of the nano-enhanced soldiers by the name of Alias. (Absolutely, no connection with Sydney Bristow of the hit ABC show by the same name. Sorry fellas, Jennifer Garner will not be making an appearance.) Initially, you begin on the side of sopot, until that vicious monster turns on you that is. Naturally, that little turn of events puts a bad taste in his mouth of Alias, and he bands with the Red Faction resistance to put an end to this tyrants reign.
About halfway through the story mode this story arc takes a drastic turn following the death of Sopot, which is by the way, is one of the most humorous and ironic deaths I've seen in gaming. Lets just say that those boys' toys can come back and bite them.
The actual shooting action comes in very large doses in Red Faction 2, and even a few mech, plane, tank, and sub levels are thrown into the mix for good measure and to add variety. I especially must give props to the tank section since it was one of the most thrilling sections of the entire game. It's just too bad it's over so quickly. The only real problem with all the shooting action of this style is it's just grown stale.
The weapon variety is good; and moments like mowing down a bunch of zombie like fools with a chain gun are an adrenaline rush to be sure. However, enemies are hardly the sharpened war veterans like we've faced in titles like Halo. More often then not, they seem to walk right into your crosshairs or simply jump back and forth behind cover like morons. They never come out and chase you down in numbers, but rather prefer to be picked off one by one, also allowing you time to regain health while you are at it.
Which brings me to another point. THQ has shamelessly ripped off the health bar function of Halo. If you stand back and don't take fire for a little while Alias' shield will regenerate, preserving whatever health he has behind a protective shield once more.
Personally, I like this dynamic and appreciate its inclusion. However, you can't deny that the developers don't own this concept. I must also note the developers have saw fit to include double handed shooting (again, does it make you think of another upcoming sequel?), and it kicks serious butt. Why can't so many other shooters allow you to wield two weapons while independently firing rounds from each/either at will?
However, in the end the one player experience is incredibly boring for the majority of the time, feeling like some throw back relic to the N64 days of shooters. (No disrespect to GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, or other titles of said caliber. I'm sure you get my drift)
The saving grace is I've found the story presented to be an engaging one, with plenty of twists to make it worth seeing. Oh, and did I mention how heroic you are factors into what ending you get and that there is several different ones to see?
This is where Red Faction 2 takes a triumphant leap to the front of the pack.
The difference in quality is so readily apparent, that I'm sure you might doubt you are playing the same game when you compare it to story.
Not only does it feature four-player support, a ton of weaponry and combatants to play around with, computer controlled bots, a staggering 60 maps and a goodly amount of modes, it goes a step further then that.
You can create up to five bots! You name them, choose which character skin, give them custom attributes and adjust their level of aggressiveness and how much they tend to camp.
These bots even grow with you, since combat experience helps them to hone their skills and to be more prepared to blow you to bits the next match. Awesome!
The levels are not only extremely abundant in number (60!), but are also very smartly designed with all kinds of players represented in their style of play is some fashion.
Oh, and just like the story mode, you can check on your rankings in multi-player through a handy menu. I personally love to be able to show just how proficient I am at killing for the entire world to see. (Well, anyone that wanders into my living room that is.)
Xbox Exclusive Content:
As I already stated in the multi-player section, the fine folks at Outrage games who handeled the porting duties of this popular PS2 sequel saw fit to include a number of new stages to shoot people into bits in. The exact number escapes me, but I know they added quite a few. The fact that their contribution brings the level count to a massive sixty makes my love for their extra effort all the greater.
The graphics haven't improved in the slightest from the PS2 version, which just doesn't cut it for 2003 Xbox standards. (When the game was released.)
The jaggies have been cleaned up, but some of the texture work is just plain hard on the eyes. Case in point: Take a look at the areas near water. Completely washed out and just plain ugly! Also, I must say that animations aren't as smooth as I would like them to pay. However, watching an enemy limply fly through the air after being hit by a grenade blast is a pretty cool sight indeed.
Xbox Graphics Advantage:
Yikes! I'm very short of ideas of what to write in here.
The frame-rate may be marginally improved (but don't quote me on that), but otherwise I can't think of any changes, which is really a shame to say the least.
Even the graphically underpowered Turok: Evolution saw fit to include a number of graphical enhancements that made it easier on and more interesting to the eyes. Sure, the graphics never came that close to Xbox standards in most any other area then real-time lighting effects, but at least it seemed like they were trying. Still, all things considered Red Faction 2 isnt terrible looking, and you'll forget all the ugly bits and soon as you lock and load in the blazing multi-player bouts.
The audio experience isn't half-bad, it's just a shame that the Xbox version didn't get an audio upgrade to Dolby Digital like so many other Xbox shooters.
The sounds of war are booming, but lack that extra punch Dolby Digital would afford.
I found the soundtrack to be catchy, and death sounds did even make me grimace on occasion. You killed my cousin! Twice removed. That really brought a smile to my face.
RF:2 plays like butter with the Xbox controller.
The controls are honestly are about as basic and simplified as they come for a first-person shooter, with the triggers acting as primary and secondary fire and the face buttons used for weapon select and to toss grenades. Clicking the thumb sticks in allow Alias to crouch and jump, while the D-Pad can be used to scroll through grenade selections or turn on the night vision (which is very rarely needed, I might add.) Honestly, the controls feel designed to allow you to wreak the most havoc possible, without feeling weighed down by complicated button sets.
If you were just to rank Red Faction 2 on it's basic as it comes single-player experience, I doubt it would grab your attention in the slightest. However, if you have some extra controllers lying around the place I dare you to pass up on the multi-player goodness this title cooks up.
It's simply stellar all around design places it among the ranks of the loftiest multi-player shoot-outs ever to grace a television screen. By all means grab some friends, some extra controller, a copy of Red Faction 2, and above all, and itchy trigger finger. Frag away!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/26/04
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