Review by PaperThick
"It grabs you at the beginning, and doesn't let go"
Ever since I decided to buy a PlayStation 2 (PS2) I wasn't totally impressed with any of the current games that were available. That's not to say I didn't enjoy a good many of them, but it just felt as though something was lacking. Enter Red Faction, a truly amazing First Person Shooter (FPS) developed by Volition.
The tiny little details that have been put into making this game are evident even before you pop it into your console; such as a handy memory card holder built into the case, or the unique ''push'' tab to remove the game. It may not seem like much, but it effectively sets this game apart from the crowd - making one wonder is in store when they actually play.
Geo-Mod: What in the heck is it?:
The Geo-Mod Engine is a highly touted feature in Red Faction. So far it is the only FPS that supports it, supplying the gamer with the ability to make real-time, arbitrary geometry modification. In layman's terms, you shoot big gun, you make big hole.
With this unique engine it is possible to destroy bridges, sending foes plummeting to their deaths, blow holes in walls if you can't find the key to a door, shoot stalactites down off the roof of a cave and watch them fall like icicles, dig holes through mountains, and so forth. Personally, I find it an extremely cool feature.
I won't bore you with details about the plot, as you probably know what it's about, but just in case you haven't looked into the game:
''Lured to Mars by the Ultor Corporation's promise of a better life, thousands have come to seek their fortune and work for the massive mining company. But all is not as it seems. A deadly plague is sweeping through the barracks, and the minters suffer daily abuse at the hands of Ultor guards. Is a revolution on the horizon?'' -back of the box
The single player mode is the heart of the game, and if you've ever played Half-Life you'll likely have feelings of deja-vu. It's not that the game is unoriginal, but it seems to have adopted a similar formula. It's not comprised of separate levels per se, but instead interwoven into one whole episode.
Something I found refreshing was the ability to control many different vehicles, there is an ATV, Driller, Aesir Fighter, Submarine, and APC. Each vehicle has a unique display, weapon, and maneuverability options. It adds a different facet to a genre full of clones, and it does it well.
The multi-player mode is first-rate also, allowing two players to fight with up to 4 bots, or a single player to fight with 6. The bots have very good artificial intelligence, they run away when out of ammo, attempt to fool you, and stealthily try to ambush you. There are some points where it's less than stellar, but for the most part they perform very well. There are nine different maps, and they all are great for a quick, and amazingly fun deathmatch.
On a final note, in the single-player game you can save anywhere you wish, which is a very useful feature. Also, there is the option to take a training mission to familiarize yourself with the game, and get the controls down.
Splendid - 9/10
This is an iffy subject, seeing you can either totally love or hate the controls in this game. One may criticize Volition for not including USB support to enable the use of a mouse/keyboard combo, but I find that the dual shock controller can be used effectively with practice. It seems as though FPS'ing on the PS2 has adopted a common control scheme, entailing the use of the analog sticks to move/strafe and to turn/pitch.
In my humble opinion, it works very well - you may feel like throwing your controller in anger for the first while, but it soon becomes second nature to move Parker around. To lessen the learning curve an option for turning auto aim on and off is included, which is great for a beginning player.
An acquired skill - 7/10
In one word: amazing. The graphics in this game are extremely detailed, and seemingly every little nuance is covered. For example, water ripples when you shoot into it, the rocket launcher displays sources of heat on it's tiny screen (through walls even), incoming bullets blur as they whizz by you, glass breaks extremely realistically, and the list goes on.
Red Faction genuinely showcases some of the power the PS2 holds with amazing texture usage, and awesome lighting effects. One of the more notable ones includes watching the fusion rocket launcher in action, unleashing a devastating display of pyrotechnics wreaking havoc on the landscape. The rail driver is pretty spiffy also, featuring a scope that allows you see and attack foes through walls. (ala the FarSight in Perfect Dark, minus the cheap auto track)
Another thing to note is that this game is completely devoid of the jagged edges that seem to have plagued most all PS2 titles. Running through the standard cables things look bright, crisp, and amazingly smooth; which only gets better with the use of S-Video/Component cables.
As for the frame rate, it holds steady at 30 frames per second in MOST all situations, save when you are blasting holes into mountains at a close distance with explosives. In short, it never gets to the point where it detracts from the gameplay.
The only (minor) gripe I have is that the character models tend to look a little out of place, due to the fact they aren't as surprisingly detailed as everything else. Also, their scripted movements seem to be a little shaky - but in no way does it totally detract from the overall feel.
Almost perfect - 9/10
One of the first things I notice in the game is the music. If the music sucks it detracts from the whole experience, no matter how good the game is. Not so with Red Faction, as a matter of fact I find it totally enhances the feel of the game. Many games do not put much emphasis on the music, it's almost like an afterthought.
In this game, the music is dynamic - meaning at points the music changes depending on the situation. For example, at a point in the game things go from calm searching to a hectic shoot-out and the music changes appropriately. From basic eerie ambiance, to a fast paced powerful musical score that takes you by surprise and gets your adrenaline pumping.
It really needs to be heard to be understood, but rest assured: the aforementioned scene definitely wouldn't have packed the same punch if it weren't for the music. Oh, and seeing this game uses the DVD-ROM format, it uses CD audio; and it makes all the difference in the world.
Great stuff - 10/10
As with the music, I find that the sound effects are generally great, and really add to the game.
The big guns have amazing bassy explosions that really rock the house, especially if you have a nice home theater system, and the other weapons sound good too. Also, the sound your footsteps make change depending on what you are walking on, varying from thuds, metallic clanking, and even a crunching noise when you walk upon broken glass. From the flushes the toilets make, to the sound of glass shattering, everything is spot on.
The only beef I have with the sound is that the Ultor guards can get really annoying, yelling out threats like ''miner scum'' or ''it's just you and me, miner'' repeatedly. On a side note, they actually do say some clever things, like not too shoot because they are unarmed - then retaliate with a barrage of bullets. It's sneaky, and to tell you the truth, I still get fooled by it at times.
Very good, minus the repetitiveness - 8/10
The Bottom Line...
If you like First Person Shooters, you can't go wrong with this one folks. It has enough in it to keep you coming back for more, due to both excellent single-player and multi-player modes. This is one of the few PS2 games that I haven't felt bad about spending $70, it's well worth every cent. The single player game takes roughly 12 hours to complete, and will leave you wanting to go through it all over again.
Red Faction is a definite buy if you're into the genre, and a great rent if you just want to see what it's all about.
An extremely solid - 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/28/01, Updated 05/28/01
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