Red Faction PC Review
Sean W. Gibson / Oct 11th, 2001 No Comments
Half Life must be the bane of FPS game designers, a constant reminder of what can be achieved and what is required of their game to get it noticed. Over three years after its release, people are still playing Half Life, and we haven’t seen a single player FPS game since that can touch it. Step forward Red Faction…
Playing a Miner called Parker on Mars, you and your companions revolt against your peers and try to escape the mines…or something to that effect. You see, Red Faction’s plot is very forgettable and not well explained. The revolution begins within seconds of starting play, and at first I thought the plot would be developed from here as Half Life did so well. As you walk down a passage you see a fellow worker arguing with a guard, they start fighting and then all hell breaks loose, guards firing off rounds and so it begins. This barely attached bit of storyline sets the tone too, most the time I have spent wandering around not really knowing what I’m doing, but the linearity of the levels meant I was always going in the right direction. You are prompted via an intercom from someone called Hendrix, which is similar to Deus Ex. Plot confusions began when I was told ‘People down here are dying, if you don’t rescue him then we wont be able to cure this plague!’ – uh, what plague?? If Volition wanted Red Faction to be story driven, then they have failed miserably in this area. The voice acting and dialogue is passable, except for a scene where you meet up with a big baddie called Capek, ‘To hell with orders!’ screams your character, ‘DIE CAPEK!’ before firing off a load of rounds at him…dodgy in a comic.
The story isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ though, there is an action game hidden under this nonsense. You start in the mines and have to battle your way through them and up through the levels of the complex. You are given a selection of mainly weedy, unspectacular weapons to use, all standard fair, pistol, automatic rifle, rail gun, rocket launcher, grenades…etc. The pistol gets special mention for being possibly the least satisfying pop-gun I’ve ever used. In terms of what you get to fire these ‘bad-boys’ at is equally un-inspiring stuff I’m afraid, 90% of the enemies you face are security guards (very badly animated security guards at that), and there is very little variety at all. They do however have some quite good AI at times, dashing off behind corners, popping out to shoot at you and then ducking away again. There are also a few vehicles to play with in the levels; the first you come across is a mining machine, the use of which provided not help at all for some reason. The others are quite fun though, including a submarine and a little fighter craft, both handle very well and their weapons are much better than the ones you get to carry around.
Graphically the game is fairly random as to quality, the mine sections look very good indeed, very atmospherically lit with lots of decaying metal equipment, combined with some of the eerie ambient sounds it gives a very gritty feel. The same cannot be said for the office sections…sterile looking environments with little detail, similarly the weapon models aren’t very impressive, as its lagging behind Half Life here badly, a game based on the Quake 2 engine! What is incredibly impressive is the glass smashing effects, and don’t the level designers know it, as it is found at nearly every turn. The glass doesn’t just shatter, a hole gets blown through in the exact place it gets hit, cracks stream out from this point and then the whole window explodes sending shards everywhere, very, very impressive in the middle of a big gun battle.
Deforming the environment is one of the games key features, the much talked about Geo-Mod technology. The basic idea is that if you get a rocket and fire it at a wall thin enough you’ll blow a hole straight through and make your own doorway, you can also shoot out bridges and platforms. This destruction can lead to many unique battle situations, this is where the idea excels, cowering behind a pillar from a big droid I suddenly had to run as a rocket from the droid meant that the pillar I was behind no longer existed! In an office area I was hiding behind a desk in the foyer exchanging fire with a guard on the balcony, a rocket or two later the balcony was lying on the ground in a pile of rubble with a dead guard somewhere in there. While this is all very impressive it has its downfalls, as there aren’t many places where it doesn’t feel gimmicky, situations where its pretty much screaming at you ‘Look, look! You can blow holes in stuff!’ things like watching an APC crossing a bridge which you can destroy, the APC is no threat and it’s a bit un-necessary. The main fault is that a lot of the scenery can’t be destroyed, only select parts, its not possible to do a total demolition job, similarly in multiplayer there is a limit to the amount of stuff that can be blown up before you just get scorched decals from your explosives.
Speaking of the multiplayer it’s a standard affair, CTF, Deathmatch and team Deathmatch are on offer, the destructive levels can make it interesting but the fact its limited shoots itself in the foot. The maps are fairly average too (notice a running theme yet?), but there is a built in map editor so maybe the Internet community will make some better ones.
The whole game feels like it can’t be bothered to impress because it feels the Geo-Mod engine will take care of everything, it’s not enough and not implemented well enough. Being a game I can only assume was designed specifically for the PS2 it all makes sense, to a devoted console gamer this would be a great game (it does remind me very much of an old Playstation FPS game called Disruptor), mainly as they don’t know any better and there aren’t any alternatives yet. As for PC owners…you can do much better than this… It’s not really that bad, but most likely already own the game that Red Faction desperately wants to be.
Red Faction has received a marginal score of 3.13 / 5. Something that falls in this category would be one that we would suggest buying if it was taylored to meet your specific needs. It’s a product that didn’t impress us, but didn’t let us down either.