Pros: Good action, great explosions, cool looking levels, plenty of guns
Cons: GeoMod is stupid, AI is semi-stupid and there is no discernable plot.
It started with a vision. ?What if we could uh blow up walls, then we wouldn?t have to walk around them to kill each other.? The words inspired THQ to make a game to do precisely that. Utilizing GeoMod technology, Red Faction presents the first 3d-shooter where the gamer can actively change their environment with rockets and explosives, digging out tunnels and blowing chunks to get through walls.
The concept is cool, the application is not.
Red Faction is hardly the game it should be. GeoMod is totally not as cool as it could have been. When one thinks of rockets blowing up walls, one imagines debris flying all about. One thinks that they should be able to fire one toward the ceiling and have rocks and cement rain down on their opponent. Yeah RIGHT. Instead you see a big puff of smoke, the debris magically vanishes into thin air, and instead of having your opponent fleeing with terror, he stands there victoriously emerging from the smoke, his rail gun equipped and crosshairs aligned.
After I played this game I thought, gee, GeoMod is possibly the stupidest thing on the planet. What GeoMod does do is allow the user strictly to blow holes into the wall with rockets and hand-planted explosives. What it does not allows you to do is, create debris, level buildings or collapse walls/towers, etc. The reason why is because once the object gets blown up, the rock turns into fairy dust. The second problem is that there is no fake gravity in this world, THQ?s reason for which would be that its on Mars, and buildings/walls do not collapse. You can?t knock down an entire wall, but apparently you can make swiss cheese patterns and write your name in it. Oh well.
Okay enough about the horrid innovation that this game was supposed to be. What about the game itself? Well, it?s not much of an upgrade from Half-Life or even System Shock, gasp! I have no idea why but this game reminds me of Mission to Mars with a rather stereotypical rebellion attached to it. It starts off pretty interesting, you apparently are a lead unit in this rebellion and you have important goals to accomplish, one of them capturing a rather oddball administrator involved in the Ultor Corporation. The gameplay flips over to something like Metal Gear Solid, minus the radar/sneaking around. If you pull out your weapon, odds are you are dead, because somehow all the guards area alerted whether or not you are in their visible vicinity or not. It?s like No One Lives Forever, be prepared to just hiding around in the shadows and not running out and killing people, period. I still can?t figure out why they even give you a weapon in the mission.
For good measure, they?ve thrown alien-like creatures in Red Faction, similar to the face-biting little spiders in Half-Life. The problem is, unlike Half-Life, Red Faction provides no good excuse for having little alien-like creatures. Apparently the Ultor Corporation (egads I hate saying that), has been performing experiments on their already oppressed miners, and some strange twisted side-effects are these little alien-like rancid, rabbits. Mind you, they?re not even the humans experiments themselves, they just show up as soon as you discover the fact.
And that my friends, is the problem with Red Faction. The folks at THQ tried to tell to much in too little time. They tried to hand out the full-blown, aliens/rebellion/metalgearsolid package without bothering to flesh it out. Much of the problem with this story is that you never exactly learn why the Ultor Corporation is doing what they?re doing, nor do you really care apparently because you can kill anyone in the game on site, including your own ?brothers? in the rebellion. I found it rather morbid that everyone from sick patients to civilian doctors can be shot with no real repercussions. The game is almost absurd.
However before I bash this game into a bloody horrid pulp that it should be, I will point out a few rather good points to this game, and finish with some more nasty comments.
Okay, the level design, while it is a standard Half-Life underground complex, it does look rather nice and the glass shattering effects are particularly cool that they even made a bonus level where you can just break a glass house over and over. The problem? Once again, they could have made it cooler. No cheap, half-blown complex, they should have made a sprawling city much the way Anachronox did and have more intriguing missions thrown in the mix. Instead you have a pretty linear path and not much exploration needed.
The cool feature however that Red Faction should be known for are the submarine/truck/driller driving fun. While this isn?t entirely new, Half-Life: Blue Shift had its share of car-driving, Red Faction does a better job of it overall. The submarine is a pretty neat feature and the underwater base is breathtaking, but unfortunately does not collapse/blow up when you fire your torpedoes at it. The sub controls are a bit however rough and underwater battles are never really that fun. Still it was a solid attempt by THQ to throw a bit of mix into their game.
The battles with the enemies are also favorable, though the AI is ripped straight from Half-life if not worse. The enemies tend to run out shoot, and then duck. In Half-life the marines would run out, shoot, duck for cover and even throw grenades. Not quite as aggressive in Red Faction but they are reasonable and should provide a challenge.
And finally a big negative point, there are no real interesting bosses in this game, and there rarely are for 3d-shooters these days. The climax of this game is beating a spiffed up marine-like character from Half-Life. It was so horrid I wanted to cry. What a bad finale. As a retro gamer I long for the days that they could stick a dual chain-gun wielding Nazi as a final boss, aka Wolf 3d. These days gaming has gotten rather tame it seems, the most difficult boss in this game and I kid you not, is a missile-firing robot that you kill by hitting a fan switch.
Well the day will come when Return to Castle Wolfestein shows the genre how to make a real 3d-shooter. For the heck of it, I?ll stick a link of a gun-toting babe Nazi from the game just to show you what a real 3d-shooter should pull. Red Faction just doesn?t cut it. At $29.95 though, if you really don?t have anything better to do and are sick of multiplayer Half-Life feel free to pick this up. It will last a good 5-10 hours depending on your skill level.
Don?t Stare at her, fire back!
A guy with goggles running from you.