First-person shooters are a dime-a-dozen and developers are now forced to find ways to make their games special. Using the new Geo-Mod technology, RED FACTION is the first Playstation 2 FPS to really stand out from the rest of the pack.
RED FACTION's plot is one of the more interesting FPS stories. In it, you are a miner on Mars who revolts against the evil corporation that has been mistreating its workers. The group of miners fighting the corporation call themselves the Red Faction. This is told as you fight your way through the areas in the game ranging from mines to corporate HQ. RED FACTION is also somewhat unique, in that it is one long adventure. For instance, after you complete an objective, instead of being presented with a mission select screen, you head down the next corridor and the game spends 15-20 seconds loading the next section of the game. The delays are a tad bit annoying but the seamless experience is worth it.
The gameplay in RED FACTION is similar to that of HALF-LIFE (which is definitely not a bad thing). The biggest twist on the gameplay is that of the Geo-Mod technology. This incredible piece of work allows you to destroy just about anything in the terrain in real-time. The explosive weapons (rocket launcher, explosive charges) can blast their way through the hard rocks of Mars allowing you to create your own path through the level, find secret rooms, or even surprise enemies. This effect not only makes the game more realistic, but increases the fun factor tenfold.
In one of my favorite multiplayer levels (best for one-on-one action), a nearly unlimited supply of rockets allows you to decimate your opponent's base and make it a little easier to kill them. Door broken? Make a way around it. Blowing up stuff is fun, and the designers of RED FACTION knew it too. The game mission setup is great and the fighting is frantic and exciting. The biggest problem though is the damn controls. A mouse and keyboard would be nice, especially for the later segments of the game. Precision aiming is difficult and the auto-aim helps a bit, but it's not enough. Another fun twist is the playable vehicles. Ranging from a submarine to a Descent-style fighter, the vehicles give you the firepower to cause some serious destruction.
The game is rather difficult in places (especially with the control issues) but this has been countered with the ability to save at any point. It's a nice touch that allows the game to be as difficult as need be. It has been a while since I've been challenged by a FPS and RED FACTION delivers.
The multiplayer department is excellent. In most games, four-player is a pre-requisite to making the multiplayer interesting. But I've played a ton of two-player RED FACTION. The game makes the two-player mode fun with multiple bots and also has a couple of excellent one-on-one arenas. Another good arena (for 4 to 6) emulates the Lobby from THE MATRIX and thanks to the Geo-Mod technology, the pillars and walls are utterly destroyed by the time you have a winner. A lot of the fun doesn't come with the frags, but rather the destruction you cause!
In the graphics department, RED FACTION does a very good job. Beautiful textures, the ability to blow anything up, and some awesome weaponry animations highlight the game. The framerate stays pretty steady and is nothing to complain about. The character models aren't too shabby and as a whole, the game looks great. Oh yeah, blowing up stuff is cool.
As for the sound, it's pretty good with great sound effects, decent music, and okay voices rounding things out. It's nothing really special here, but nothing bad either (though the explosion effects all sound good).
RED FACTION is one of my favorite PS2 games. It combines a great one-player experience with a great time in the multiplayer mode with the coolest new technology on the market, Geo-Mod. While the controls leave much to be desired, this is one of the few must-owns for any Playstation 2 owner. Pick it up as soon as you can.
USBR Rating: Mature
Genre: First Person Shooter
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A-
Reviewer's Wild Card: A-