Better red than dead. Red Faction is a series that has always kept my interest, mostly due to the fact that it's one with a lot of potential to rock the gaming world. The thing is that it never really did. Sure, it managed to make a decent amount of money (save for Armageddon), but quality-wise, it never went above the good stage. So I decided to replay the entire series, just to pinpoint exactly why it is that this series didn't go as far as it did, and you know what, the problems started with the first game! There was a LOT going for it - sci-fi premise, potentially interesting story, vehicular sections, destructible environments and just general ass kicking awesomeness... saidly, the final result was a below average shooter that didn't deliver shit, save for some standard shooting and irritating segments that could've been damn cool, not to mention a story that's just lame and boring.
Violent revolution. Parker is a miner who wants to mine in Mars, hoping to find a huge fortune. Unfortunately, he soon learns that the miners are treated like they're prisoners of wars, with rigidly long hours of work and little sleep, pay and food. Thankfully, it's not like they've been taking this sitting down, as they have secret meetings to take down their oppressive leaders known as Ultor. Shit goes into full swing when one of the workers stands up to one of the guards, and from there, the miners fight, conspiracies arise, and stuff happens... like it matters, to be quite honest with you guys...
Like Half Life, it's told around you. Voice overs and radio communications ensure that the game doesn't stop because the story wants attention... and good thing, too, because the story sucks. It feels like it goes on forever. There were many times throughout where they could've ended it, but instead, the writers were like "ehh no, let's just keep it moving", like the more story they have, the better it'll be. Well, yeah, I suppose that's true, but long stories are only good when they're interesting, rife with development and likable characters, not chucking shit at us and hoping we'll go with it. The sad part is that it only took 5 hours to beat. Really, just 5 hours? It felt like it was about 20 hours long and it's mostly due to the story!
I got big guns and nobody cares. At its heart, Red Faction is a first person shooter, meaning it's time to get some guns and shoot bad guys. Parker's arsenal of weapons varies from cool, like a laser that shoots through walls and rocket launchers that may as well be like a mini A-bomb, to stock standard shotguns and grenades. What could've been pretty cool is that the weapons all have alternate firing, like how you can use the flamethrower as a gun that fires bombs, or how your rocket launcher can pack heat seeking missiles.
I say "could've been cool" because the enemies don't offer much - if any - resistance. Oh sure, they'll shoot you, but then you shoot them and they end up running away like little bitches, saying "PWEASE DON'T SHOOT ME I'M UNARMED!!"... then after a little while, they go back to shooting you. This actually could've been cool... if it wasn't the tactic for EVERY *bleep*ING ENEMY SOLDIER! Not only does it get old and annoying, but it just shows how poorly programmed the enemies were, and as a result, combat isn't exactly satisfying or even worth it. Even if they're not acting like cowards, they take their time to shoot you... and in groups, they do it like one or two at a time... weak. Not to mention, you'll have a few stealth missions that are actually pretty lame because of this. Sure, when you kill enemies, you can hide their bodies, but it's not like the living soldiers give a shit. They won't be like "oh shit he's dead", they'd be like "oh he's dead - move along, nothing to see here". Sheesh, way to make these parts less tense. But hey, friendly soldiers aren't much better - they're pretty damn stupid. Expect to see them dead within the minute that they start fighting alongside you. I just can't believe it...
I also can't believe the level design. Basically, you go through a series of halls, kill enemies on the way, listen to audio logs on the way, get some help from friendly soldiers and kill the boss character - rinse, lather and repeat. It feels like it's on rails most of the time, with the occasional fork in the road that holds some shit like ammo and health (oh wow I'm surprised this doesn't have regenerating health.. then again, this was released before that got popular, so that's cool). Perhaps alongside today's shooters, this would be alright, but after the likes of Doom and even Perfect Dark, I think it can do much better.
Just because we can. Red Faction will often have you doing something other than shooting. For one, you can travel in vehicles. You get to drive a tank to blow shit up, and a submarine to explore underwater. Hell, you get to control a badass driller through an electric fence. You drill through it, you're on top of the world, and then it shorts out. Now, don't get me wrong, these sections actually seem like they'll be good... it's just that they're way too brief! There are other elements, but they're just way too brief and not plentiful enough to discuss, so moving on...
"Ooh, but there's the Geo Mod system - surely, you'll love that", you may be thinking... Too bad it doesn't work the way it really could've! See, the idea is that you should be able to destroy parts of a building or make craters on the ground. Only the latter is true, and only on soil it seems. I suppose it makes sense to make some things indestructible either due to it just making sense that it's indestructible or due to having to get this game rushed into stores, but I don't know, if you're going to hype something up, make sure it lives up to it! I mean damn, I always thought rockets at least made holes in metal... must be some hardcore *bleep*ing metal! What I'm trying to say is that this could've really spiced things up as far as the levels go, but it's just some gimmick that doesn't even work.
Killing is fun with friends! Surely, multiplayer ought to make up for the single player, right? I mean, Halo's been doing that since the second game... well, yes and no. Yes because multiplayer can be fun, but no because it's just generic. You can either kill each in a free for all session, in teams, or capture the flag. The maps are designed in ways that'd work with each of the modes in mind... just that they're nothing special so it's hard to really describe them without a series of groans and sighs... except when you can take advantage of them with Geo Modding. THIS is where Geo Modding is actually any good, as it can alter the terrain to make matches more interesting. Beyond this... I mean, there are no vehicles, which could've made things much more interesting, and besides Geo Modding, it's just standard shooter fare... At least there's online availability... if anybody's online, of course. But between Unreal Tournament and Call Of Duty, well, not much time would be dedicated towards this multiplayer.
Obvious console port. Ah, what I may have forgotten to mention is that this is pretty much a direct port of the PS2 game. As everybody knows, graphically speaking, the PS2 was the weakest of the sixth generation consoles, and the PC will always be better than even the most powerful consoles, as long as it's upgraded to the best specs. How does it translate? It looks fine, if you ask me. Granted, it looks more like a PS1 game with the blocky character and gun designs and putty faces, but the environments certainly have some detailed textures (by 2001 standards) with some decent color usage, but it's the explosions that'll stand out with radiant colors and the fact that you'll be seeing a good amount of them..
BOOM The sound design... meh. I suppose you could say there's a bit of a triple threat going on here; the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Voice acting slots neatly into the bad point as it just sounds really campy, but not in that "so bad it's good" way; more in that way that just doesn't fit with the serious story and the fact that they just sound flat, boring, and just generally bad. The writing probably doesn't help, but they'd probably make even good writing seem bad, so yeah, not really a good point. The music fits neatly in the mediocre point because the music is just dirty techno music that has a bit of ambience behind it, and that's it. It sounds good for a little while, but eventually, it drones on (like the story) and eventually, you'll want it turned off due to monotony (like the game). Sound effects fits inside the good edge just right... the weapons sure have big balls judging by these meaty sound effects! The glass certainly sounds like what shattering glass would sound like, and explosions... oh man them explosions! So yeah, sound effects are good, music's alright, and voice acting is shiiiiiiit.
Cause worth fighting for, or are we better off just not rocking the boat? Red Faction isn't really all that. It had good intentions, but it really disappointed. What could've been a fantastic first person shooter is instead one that's below average. It's a short game, but due to the poor storytelling and generic gameplay, it feels like it takes a long ass time to complete. Really, the only crimes commited here are disappointment and boredom, because if you ignore the AI at its worst (which is like 80% of the time), it's technically competent... but competence isn't enough. It has to be fun, too!
Story: 3/10 Long, drawn out, boring... it had a good idea, but not executed too well. Gameplay: 3/10 Ho-hum shooting combined with irritating and boring non-shooting sequences. The AI sucks, too. Generally, not all that fun. Controls: 8/10 Controls like your standard keyboard+mouse shooter. Not much out of the ordinary. Graphics: 7/10 The environments look fine and the explosions kick ass, but the blocky models... no thanks. Sound: 7/10 The sound effects are awesome, the music is okay with a good amount of ambiance, and the void acting... nah.