Review by bearsman6

"You know you have achieved greatness when..."

...You can compare a first-person shooter to both Unreal Tournament and Quake III and still talk about how it is better. When I first picked up Red Faction for my PC, I was honestly afraid that it would prove to be nothing more than a cheap port of the wonderful Playstation 2 smash hit. From the first time I pulled up the main menu, I could tell that this game would have insane graphics and sound. Every single thing in this game is smooth, refined, and integrated. The environments all seem to be interactive in some aspect, even if they are just for show. The scary part is, however, that the game plays as smoothly and as fast, if not more so on both accounts, as either Quake III or UT on a good day. As if that weren’t enough, the interfaces and, well, everything is a step up, in my opinion.
You can begin the game in either a training mode, to get accustomed to the controls and feel of the game, or just by jumping straight into some action, but I do suggest playing through the training, if for no other reason than it showcases some of the game’s cooler effects (can you say glass that actually breaks and cracks? I knew you could). However, for those of you that really just want to go in and begin cracking skulls immediately, that option is always open to you. But enough foreplay, let’s get to the real fun... And yes, trust me, with this game, even talking about how great it is is fun.

Gameplay: 9/10 The gameplay is nothing short of spectacular on this wonderfully done port of the PS2 title. One of the things that I first noticed was, when given explosives (and they love to do that for you on the first level), you can plant them anywhere, and detonate them anywhere, and then watch and see that they will affect the terrain, no matter where they are laid. This game’s environments are fully interactive, and this goes as far as small tunnels in the mine where your game begins, or in underground coves while submersed in a sub, or even while piloting a tank-like beast of a machine that can, and does, easily destroy anything that it connects with. But that isn’t all, ladies and gentlemen, in addition to all this, you get………… a new car! No really, you get to almost feel the environments around you, because they are of such high quality, with no slowdown or really visible blurring, that you might as well take stills of everything and just be running through those.
Another amazing aspect to this game is the way the controls handle. As is now standard with most computer FPS games, you can fully customize the key layout, and this I suggest, because the presets are a bit weird. Then, once you are comfortable, just hop into the game and see how seamlessly everything flows around you, and how responsive the movements of your characters, and even other characters, are to your controls. As with both Quake III and Unreal Tournament, you can go multiplayer, too, but unlike those games, in this you really do have to stress the system a LOT before you will notice any slowdown, and you won’t really notice the decrease in graphical or sound performance.

Graphics: 10/10 Wow. In the first 10 minutes of playing this game, I witnessed a massive brawl in the center of some underground mining complex that involved at least 6+ other characters onscreen at the same time. The mere fact that they all interacted realistically, and all moved realistically, no matter what my vantage point, was amazing to me. Then, when you speak to someone (or get close enough to notice), you WILL see their mouths move, and it won’t just be generic movement either. It is almost as though the programmers spent time just to figure out how people actually go about forming their lips for some words. Though not perfect, just the fact that they tried to emulate that is impressive. The next thing, since I have so far nitpicked the small details, should be the incredible graphical layout of the environment around you. As I have already commented, no doubt several times, they are fully interactive, but not until you see how realistically they are portrayed to begin with do you understand what this involves. When you blow up a mine wall with some plastic explosives, sure the explosion is pretty and the pyrotechnics flash the screen a bit red, but then when you go back to view that same location, there will be a depression left from what the bomb did. Then, if you take careful notice, you will see that even that looks just as real as the wall did before.
Another key to notice here is the fact that every person is composed of so many small polygons that you can’t even tell that they are present. Unlike most games where the enhanced gameplay means a tradeoff in the graphical department, Red Faction has seemingly found a loophole to this rule. Gone are the blocky forms and figures found in Unreal and its sequel, gone are the slowdowns caused by the Quake III engine trying to keep up with all of the incredibly detailed characters floating around the arenas. In this game, the computer seems to keep constant track of all of the opposing drones, for even once I enter a room and dispatch of those few guards, others, from rooms and locations I hadn’t even visited yet, would come and swarm me in an attempt to quiet the rebellion. Unfortunately for them, once they are gone, they are not back where they originally started. I like the reality of that situation. Oh, there is so much more to talk about, but right now, I need to get on with it. Let me just say this in closing, the graphics of this game are nothing short of insane.

Sound: 9/10 The sounds may actually be the weakest part of this game’s performance, but that says close to nothing. The game runs perfectly on my sound system (which is not that great), and even then it seems to pull the most from my speakers and sub. The background tracks are lively when they need to be, but also very creepy at other times. One of the things I keep remembering the most about this game though, in the sound effects department, is the usage of intercom systems. It seems that in every complex you enter, there is something blaring over the intercom, be it a warning about your presence or merely routine things. It is even great at points because the intercom systems try to stay politically correct, “please excuse that last broadcast and ignore what was said, since it was illegally done, etc, etc, etc.” Then, as usual, you have the human voices, which are masterfully recreated from digital recordings. The cool part is, whenever you are talking to someone, the voice matches the mouth, and though this might be graphical praise, you also have to consider the fact that the voices are not distorted in the least, no matter how much is going on around you. The sounds can be great, sweeping background tracks or even small explosions heard when you fire your rocket launcher, to even the thump of bullets against the chest of an enemy 100 yards in front of you. I am just in awe of what this game can do...

Overall: 9/10 Needless to say, this game is just further proof that even games originally created for consoles can be ported to the PC and still end up better than the original. The game handles so smoothly that you won’t even believe it. I literally just picked it up after playing Unreal Tournament and even that change was so insane that I couldn’t believe it. The game not only handles well, but it does it on a very fast-paced basis. It surprised me, honestly, the things this game could do and how lifelike everything seemed, especially going at such a quick rate. Overall, this game is a shooting fan’s dream come true, and if anyone tells you otherwise, well, I wouldn’t mind finding their head in my sights. Just enjoy the experience, and try to kick back a bit, because once you get into the world of Red Faction, you won’t want to leave again until your revolution is a success!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/21/01, Updated 10/21/01

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