Red Faction 2
Not too long ago a company called Volition went to work on a game called Descent Freespace. After gaining critical acclaim for its work the company was commissioned to develop a sequel to the game and again, it struck gold. Of course Volition decided to start work on another sequel to the game but in the end, the project got scrapped in favor of a first person shooter called Red Faction. Utilizing an incredible engine called Geo-Mod, gamers were treated to an amazing first person shooter that emphasized chaos and destruction. Of course, Volition struck gold again, paving the way for another amazing sequel.
This time around we get Red Faction 2, a sequel that successfully captures the excitement and feel of the original while managing to remain fresh and entertaining. Building upon the impressive Geo-Mod technology, this year’s game features more explosions, more diversity and more importantly, more carnage and mayhem. For you see, Geo-Mod is an amazing piece of technology that allows you to destroy key pieces of the environment. During the course of a battle you’ll see pillars crumble, walls tumble and entire buildings destroyed. Forget anything else you’ve seen in video games, Red Faction 2 by far provides the most interactive environments you’ll ever see. Throughout the course of battle you’ll see chunks of the environment fly into the air, after you’re done fighting you’ll really get the sense that you’ve been in a warzone and not some sissy playfight. We’re Americans dammit, not French!
The storyline is simple, you’re part of a rebellious group is being held down by a Saddam-look alike. You get some nice storyline and plot development but really, who cares? I play a first person shooter to kill, kill and kill, thankfully Red Faction 2 delivers in spades. Whether it be with a grenade launcher, machine gun or dual pistols, the action is always fun and furious. Most of the weapons have two firing modes and best of all, you can carry two handguns for a little bit of Woo-style action. Of course you’ll have your usual assortment of grenades, sniper rifles and high-tech machine guns. The weapon variety is just excellent in the game and every new weapon yields tons of pleasure and enjoyment. Get ready for carnage baby because RF2’s got tons of it.
Controls are a bit difficult to get used to at first, I was having a hell of a time aiming with the dual analog sticks. It seems the game is quite forgiving, however, as having my cursor in the general vicinity of my target would garner me a hit. Sadly the USB Keyboard and Mouse support that was present in the PS2 version is noticeably absent here. For anyone looking to replicate the feeling of a PC FPS they’ll be sorely out of luck.
Mission variety is very excellent and is somewhat similar to EA’s 007 Agent Under Fire. Red Faction 2 features first person shooter levels, classic rail shooter levels and you’ll even dabble in some destructive vehicle mayhem. There are some truly amazing ones like an early mission where you’ll man the gunner seat of a plane as you wreak havoc from above. The majority of the missions are just excellent, featuring great structure and design that usually provides an entertaining experience. Let’s be honest though, RF2 does have its share of annoying and tedious levels that really disrupt the flow of the game. Early on you’ll travel through a subway as you try to establish contact with your team. As you enter the evacuated station you’ll find spider mines at every turn. Everywhere you go they’ll hurl themselves at you and inflict heavy amounts of damage. Even after you think you’ve destroyed them all they magically reappear to make your life a living hell. I don’t mind facing intelligent enemies but cheap tactics like this just seriously piss me off and I’m sure it’ll get to you as well.
It’s a shame too because most of the time, the AI seems to be excellent if not brilliant. They’ll utilize squad tactics and hide behind any available obstacles. Most times you’ll see them pop out to fire at you and return into hiding when it’s time to reload. Other times you’ll see one enemy blanket an area with fire while another moves to flank you. Sure they won’t be filling out applications for Mensa anytime soon but they’re better than your average FPS fodder. They provide an excellent challenge but never really are difficult to the point where you become irritated with their actions –except for those damn spider mines of course- and most of the time, you’ll be having too much fun blowing them to shreds to really notice their deficiencies. Did I mention that combat in this game is fun?
Thankfully the pretty graphics did well to take my mind off of the building frustration. Even though the game is nearly six-months-old, it still dazzles and shines. There are some neat technical tricks thrown in amongst the excellent texture and design work. Every time you fire a shot you can expect to be greeted by some sort of technical marvel. Shoot an electronic device? You’ll see a shower of sparks. Walk outside? You’ll witness an amazing rain effect. Level architecture is some of the best seen in a console FPS and their destruction truly is amazing. Blowing a hole into the wall doesn’t just remove a predetermined portion of it but instead removes a unique area based on the location of your blast. You’ll see that area crumble amidst a pile of smoke and rubble. The overall effect is beautiful to watch and never really does quite get old. The game does take advantage of the Xbox's superior hardware as this version of the game pumps out the fastest and most consistent frame rates.
Player models are adequate although a bit crudely animated. Sometimes death animations are just excellent and feature some nice skeletal work on the part of the animators. Other times you’ll just see your opponents drop dead right in front of you as if death had been chasing them around with a scythe. Sometimes you’ll see nice features -like hats that can be shot off of enemies- and sometimes you’ll see your enemies suddenly just drop dead. It’s not the fault of the skeletal system though, because you’ll see some nice interaction and postures during the game’s many cutscenes. It’s just that at times the deaths feel rushed and uninspired.
An awful lot of time was put into the audio portions and it is immediately noticeable from the start. The weapon samples come through cleanly and clearly and the explosions come with enough bass to rattle your neighbor’s windows. All of the weapons sound powerful enough to give someone the impression that they are in fact lethal and deadly. Throughout the course of battle you’ll hear enemies communicate with each other as they bark out orders to each other. There are even some nice audio touches like PA announcers in subways and of course, political propaganda that blares through the speakers on a consistent basis. Voice acting in particular is well done for a game of this genre. The first person shooter genre has come a long way in terms of production values and Red Faction 2 is a direct beneficiary of this revelation.
In order to add a bit of replay value to the game, Volition added an entertaining multiplayer mode that is capable of up to six total players, whether it be bots or human players. If you’re like John and you have no friends you can go solo and battle against a group of AI bots in an all-out war. The multiplayer modes are excellent and addicting due to the game’s varied weapon selection. You’ll have your usual assortment of modes including, Arena, deathmatch and of course, capture the flag. The Xbox version adds more levels to the multiplayer modes, thus beefing up the multiplayer aspect. The absence of Xbox Live capabilities hurts the game’s multiplayer a bit but if you’ve got four controllers and three friends you probably won’t miss it too much.
If you’re looking for a great story driven, single-player console-based first person shooter you should look no further than THQ’s Red Faction 2. Sure the multiplayer may not be up to par with the competition but it has enough flair and substance to make the solo experience worth attacking. Red Faction 2 is one of the best console shooters available today and well worth the purchase.
While it does little to improve upon the PS2 version, the solid frame rates and extra multiplayer levels really add to the experience. If you've never played Red Faction 2 then you owe it to yourself to check this out. It's a shame that there's no Xbox Live support though.
Rating: 8.3 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile