Red Faction (PC) review
"Sometimes I start playing a game and it isn't until I'm half-done with it that I realize I just don't like it. At this point, I figure that I have to beat the game because I've gotten so far in it (I feel like Iíve wasted my time if I donít). That was pretty much my entire reason for playing through Red Faction. I picked up the game recently because I loved playing through Red Faction II and I was left wanting more. As you can probably already guess, the experience wasnít nearly the same. "
Sometimes I start playing a game and it isn't until I'm half-done with it that I realize I just don't like it. At this point, I figure that I have to beat the game because I've gotten so far in it (I feel like Iíve wasted my time if I donít). That was pretty much my entire reason for playing through Red Faction. I picked up the game recently because I loved playing through Red Faction II and I was left wanting more. As you can probably already guess, the experience wasnít nearly the same.
Red Faction opens up with an introduction to our hero, Parker. Heís a miner on Mars who has come to the red planet seeking fame and fortune. Of course, when he gets there he quickly discovers that the mine operators are a ruthless corporation that control every aspect of their employeesí lives and require them to live on rigid schedules that they dictate for them. Soon an explosion kicks off a rebellion and Parkerís humdrum mining life is instantly transformed: in a matter of minutes he goes from ďParker the MinerĒ to ďParker the Revolutionary Who Can Out-Shoot AnyoneĒ.
Of course, thatís not why most people bought this game. The storyline (which is just more of your typical FPS fare) is pretty inconsequential. Most of the time you arenít even really sure of what youíre supposed to be doing or where youíre supposed to be going; you just happen to get to your destinations because the game is incredibly linear. No, most people bought this game because it features ďcomplete environmental destruction.Ē For the first time in an FPS, when you shoot a rocket at a wall or toss a grenade at a column, the wall will blow up and the column will crumple. A tech-demo included with the game actually challenges you just to blow the biggest hole you possibly can with a limited supply of weapons. In the actual game, this feature is used to allow you to bypass a locked door.
Most of the time, it does nothing and is useless.
When the main selling point of a game is that you can blow gigantic holes into walls, there should be some actual use for it. I mean, blowing a giant hole in the wall and wasting your ammo is pretty pointless when an unlocked door is just a few yards away. On the few rare occasions that you do need to utilize this feature, they points you need to blow up are so obvious (including an early one that actually has the spots you need to blow up highlighted) that it isnít even that entertaining. I expected this mode to reveal a lot more hidden areas with extra items or opportunities for surprise attacks but this only happened once or twice and ultimately wasnít worth the effort.
Since this gimmick is lacking, the weight of the game falls on the actual gameplay which is sadly just standard FPS stuff that weíve seen everywhere. Each massive area that you go into is nearly the same, with only a few differently placed objects and braindead enemies. The game takes place in the future colony of Mars, but all the weaponry (save a railgun and a fusion rocket launcher) is standard stuff. Even worse, I beat the game in less than four hours and I somehow managed to be bored by it.
But itís not all bad. There are some really cool vehicle portions in the game, including one where you drive a nearly invincible tank through a canyon, where you can blast away at waves of enemy forces or simply let them crumple under the treads of the tank. Another segment sees you piloting a futuristic hovercraft through a tight corridor which is pretty exciting at high speeds. The final part of the game, the diffusion of a giant bomb, requires you to enter a code (by use of the arrow keys) as a timer counts down. If it reaches zero, itís over (because I hadnít saved in a while). Finishing it four seconds before the bomb was going to blow up was actually, dare I say, thrilling. These parts really spiced up the otherwise humdrum gameplay.
Somehow the gameís graphics engine has managed to hold up over all this time. A lot of the explosions look really good and the smoke effects rival those of some current games. The character models havenít held up very well and their lip-syncing isnít quiet right but they do a good enough job. The voice-overs are nothing really special; most of the characters (including Parker) seem less than thrilled and are certainly lacking (even compared to the limited voice work found in titles released around the same time).
Red Faction is dirt-cheap now, which might serve as justification for picking it up. If you see it for sale, keep in mind that the gameplay is a far cry (possible pun intended?) from greatness. If you can, I recommend actually skipping past this game and trying instead to find a copy of Red Faction 2. Itís really a much more refined game and thereís really no connection between the two games at all so you wonít feel like youíve missed something. If you're looking for a really great Mars experience, I also suggest picking up Total Recall starring Arnie instead of bothering with this failed FPS.
Community review by asherdeus (September 21, 2005)
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