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Red Faction II (PC) artwork

Red Faction II (PC) review

"Red Faction came along a while back and promised to change gaming forever. Usually, when a developer promises this, they fail. Red Faction didn’t exactly fail, but the highly touted Geo-Mod feature which was included in the game that allowed you to destroy any part of the environment was sadly underutilized and most of the time pointless. Turns out, putting a big hole in the wall is just a big waste of time and ammunition when there’s an unlocked door that leads to the same point. ..."

Red Faction came along a while back and promised to change gaming forever. Usually, when a developer promises this, they fail. Red Faction didn’t exactly fail, but the highly touted Geo-Mod feature which was included in the game that allowed you to destroy any part of the environment was sadly underutilized and most of the time pointless. Turns out, putting a big hole in the wall is just a big waste of time and ammunition when there’s an unlocked door that leads to the same point. But no matter, the promise was there and the game sold well enough, so a sequel was ordered and so, here we are with Red Faction 2.

A lot of times I complain about storylines and I suppose I have terrible judgment when it comes to them. On the one hand, I really like a nice, deep, rich ones that angle off and explores caveats that I wouldn’t have even thought about before, like a good Deus Ex storyline. My other hand however loves cheesy ‘80s action movies, where the stars have big hair, big muscles, and deliver big explosions. I like the plots that are so paper-thin you’d think warm breath could ignite it. Red Faction 2 falls into my other hand very nicely. It’s a classic good-guy, bad-guy storyline, complete with corny Russian accents, treachery, deception, mutations, and most important of all, big-assed explosions.

The game opens up with you flying into a research base. You and two others jump out of the craft and within seconds they’re laid to waste by gunfire. Then, you’re in control. You open up your awesome grenade-launching machinegun on a fortress wall and, like those big logs they used in the medieval days to break through the walls of castles, it crumbles before you. You rush into the main area and put bullets into the snipers that shot down your boys when all of the sudden a helicopter swoops down over head. Don’t worry; he’s one of your guys. He blasts open the door to the base and you’re allowed into the fortress.

Once inside, your super-awesome machine gun (I liked the gun a lot, probably one of my FPS favorites) lays down swarms of enemies that are coming at you. Sure, they’ll try to ambush you and shoot you from behind, but they’re no match for you. Finally, you see your destination ahead of you: a nanochip surrounded by some sort of force-field. Instead of finding a switch to unleash the shield, you instead decide to just blow the crap out of the pillar supporting it and the force-fields lose power. Grabbing your prize, you run out of the facility.

Flash, its three years later. You’re back, fighting along-side the Red Faction. The Red Faction is a liberation group, trying to rip power from the evil Sopot. Sopot has the nanochip, which, naturally, our hero Alias, who we’ve been playing as so far, stole and gave to him initially but then realized the error of his ways after Sopot took the nanochip and made an army of super-soldiers, Alias included. Of course, when you have power, the only thing you worry about is losing power, and Sopot began to distrust his army, so he decided to have them all eliminated in favor of a mindless mutant army. Alias and a ragtag group of the few remaining nano-soldiers have teamed up with the Red Faction to take out Sopot, destroy the nanochip, and bring order to, presumably, the world.

Your team includes the leader, Molov. He’s your rough, rugged soldier, the type that was born into combat with a cigarette in his mouth (as far as I remember, we never seem him smoke, but it seems like he’d be the type). Then there’s Shrike, a guy who looks like Jak from Jak and Daxter. He’s your pilot; he can fly anything, anywhere, anytime. Tangier, she’s the stealth girl of the group: sneak in, hack in, you name it, and she’s also the resident babe. When you need someone downed from a distance, you’ll call on Quill, expert sniper that eats weak men for lunch. Finally, there’s Repta, who looks like he overdosed on steroids so, of course, he’s all about heavy weaponry.

Alias fits in the groups as the demolitions man. He can blow up anything, but he’s also pretty good with a machine gun. You play as him for the entire game while your buddies operate around you and assist you. One segment has Quill shooting down bad guys while you try to rig a bridge for explosions. Another portion of the game has you fighting your way through one of Sopot’s military bases alongside Repta. There are even segments where Shrike steers a tank through downtown and you have to man the guns and destroy anything that comes your way. That whole sequence happens right around the same time Shrike flies you through the city on some sort of futuristic aircraft and has you gun down more of Sopot’s troops.

It isn’t a perfect game by any means, no, it has a fair share of faults, but inevitably, the game succeeds in being fun. The Geo-Mod features have been toned down a bit, with only certain objects being completely destroyable, but at the same time, it’s used quite a bit. In one sequence late in the game, I mounted giant electronic battle armor and blasted my way through a facility, and since I couldn’t fit through the doorways, I blew anything that stood in my way apart. It was a great deal of fun. Sure, the graphics are a bit “PS2’d;” most of them grainy and bland, but for some reason it really doesn’t detract all that much from the experience and the explosions aren’t bad to look at either. Certainly, more work could have been done in enhancing the graphics in this port, but they’re definitely serviceable.

Sadly, there are some faults that can’t be so easily overlooked in Red Faction 2. While the gameplay is fast and pumping, ripped and roaring, the soundtrack is pretty basic and less than exciting. The jewel case for the game promised a voice over by Lance Henriksen, whose name I can’t recognize off the top of my head, so I thought the voiceovers might be a strong point of the game, but they’re pretty campy and no one seems to have any enthusiasm, even though they’re saving the world and all. Red Faction 2 also has, quite oddly, no multiplayer at all. Not even Deathmatch, which is just wrong for a PC FPS game.

At the end of the day, what you get with Red Faction 2 is an entertaining FPS experience. It isn’t perfect; it’s not going to leave an impression on you like Half-Life 2 or FarCry did, but at the same time it will entertain you and keep you glued to your seat. Sadly, the game is pretty short and I was able to plow through it in about six hours, so with no multiplayer support, Red Faction 2 will probably get shelved pretty quickly. Even still, if you’re in the market for an FPS that will let you blast away without really having to think; you’ve found your game.

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Community review by asherdeus (June 16, 2005)

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