So let’s jump right into it. Red Faction is a first person shooter that was released in 2001 for the PC and PS2. It eventually found its way to other platforms including Mac and the Ngage (of all things).
Here’s the plot…which was obviously inspired by Total Recall. The year is 2075. The Ultor Corporation is running a mining operation on Mars. The living conditions for miners suck at best and other miners are getting taken out by an incurable disease known simply as “The Plague”. You follow Parker a miner drawn in by Ultor’s promises of a new life as a miner. Parker finds himself at the forefront of a revolution.
So what can I say here; the story is actually quite good. The game itself is actually quite long; so there was several times that the story was what kept me from getting bored and quitting. The story is compelling there’s enough twists to keep things interesting….well until the very end at least. I found the ending to be a bit disappointing. But overall I dig it and for that I’m giving it an B.
Red Faction is an older game. I mean it was originally released in 2001. I have to remind myself of that quite a bit because in my opinion the look has not aged well. The graphics have a jagged style typical of the time. I remember back when I first played it the games look was amazing. Things have changed. The game as it stands is displayed in a 4:3 format, but there’s a way around that. There is a community made patch called Pure Faction. Installing the patch opens up higher resolutions. And interesting thing to note is that playing this older title on newer hardware seems to have issues. I’m not sure if this is a problem with the game itself or with Pure Faction, but I encountered at least one glitch. In the sub bay before the underwater lab when you attempt to launch the sub; the sub just explodes. Why does this happen? Well it’s all about frame rates apparently if the games framerate goes above 200 frames per second the game glitches out causing the sub to explode. Fortunately with the help of Pure Faction you can counter act this issue. All you have to do is use Pure Faction to adjust the frames per second. I’ve left a link to the moment I figured it out in the playthrough. While it’s true that the graphics haven’t exactly aged well I certainly wouldn’t toss them into the junk pile. So…B
The Cinematics in the game do their job. They convey the story during the in-between-bits. The game used in-game graphics rather than pre-rendered cutscenes. I usually like it when games do this. The game also throws on these little communication cinematics (Hendrix talking to you, or Eos bossing you around). I find these to be nice touches, and it certainly helps keep the story moving. Interestingly enough the cutscenes are probably the times that I noticed the age of the graphics the most. Jagged character models and choppy frame rate are typical of what you’ll run into. It’s entirely possible that some of the choppy framerates were because of the screen capture software. The cinematics aren’t bad…but they certainly aren’t great, and tossing in a lackluster ending….meh C it is.
The audio in the game is good but nothing to write home about. The only reason I say that is because there was nothing sound effects wise that ever really stuck out to me. Everything was pretty much what I would expect from a game of this type. As for the voice acting….well I’ve definitely heard better. The delivery seems off for me; all of the dialogue seems forced and unnatural. Once again…C
The soundtrack….holy crap the soundtrack…it’s cinematic…it’s huge…it’s well orchestrated. It’s awesome. The unfortunate fact is during the playthrough I muted all of the music. I had to. That is the nature of the Tubes. Just take my word for it….fantastic soundtrack. So the Music is an A all the way.
Controls are typical for FPSs. Keyboard and mouse all the way. This is where the age old argument continues. Keyboard/Mouse vs gamepad. Console gamer vs elite PC Master race. I’ll say this I have both the PC and PS2 version. And I have to say the PC control scheme is much more ideal. Honestly I get quite frustrated playing this with the pad. But that’s just me and that’s a personal preference; I’ve always preferred playing FPS titles on a PC with a mouse and keyboard. That being said there are ways to use a controller with the PC release of Red Faction, but I haven’t explored it. Using classic and what I feel the most ideal control scheme for a PC….that deserves an A.
All right let’s hit the gameplay. Overall you’re looking at some pretty standard point shoot bang bang action. However, the Geo Mod engine does add another layer of gameplay dynamic. The Geo Mod engine allows the user to modify the level. You can blast your own tunnels circumvent doors by going through walls….the world is your oyster. When I first found this game way back when; I fell absolutely in love with the Geo Mod engine. I was obsessed with burrowing my own tunnels. But here’s the deal with Geo Mod it starts out really cool….and YES I will readily admit that it is a very cool idea…the thing is you end up using it less and less. To be entirely honest I barely used it after the first few stages. To kind of go with Geo Mod the game has included some pretty nice weapons…a healthy chunk of them are explosive in nature…that brings us to the fun of sticking mines to your enemies….good times….good good times. There are some other great weapons…sniper rifles, precision rifles…heck even the pistol is great. I have to recommend that you stick with the precision weapons. Like the precision rifle, sniper rifle or the rail driver….if you’re feeling crazy go with a rocket launcher. I had a tendency to steer clear of automatic weapons because the shot grouping for all of the automatic weapons is ridiculous. It’s nearly impossible to hit a target without using dang near all of your ammunition. My personal favorite weapon would have to be the Rail Driver. You see the Rail Driver allows you to 1. See through walls 2. Fire through said walls to take out enemies. The Rail Driver is even strong enough to take out hover crafts….I guess that’s what they are. Heck I even shot one through a wall without seeing it….probably one of the coolest accidental shots I’ve ever done. So, gameplay is pretty standard, Geo Mod is awesome but it wears thin…and the weapons are great (with the exception of the automatic weapons). Gameplay is good just not great…B
The final thing I wanted to discuss is the multiplayer mode. When I first got this game I think I ended up playing multiplayer mode more than the solo campaign. Playing it today really takes me back to the Good Ole Days of multiplayer gaming. No voice chat….it’s like heaven. The game is pretty old but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is still a bit of a community playing the game. It’s funny because you’ll run into a lot of the same players quite a bit. As best I can tell there are still folks creating custom maps. This is pretty impressive in my opinion. It bears mentioning that it’s really in multiplayer mode that Geo Mod shines bright. In the course of a match a map will start out pristine and end up completely trashed. Sometimes it’s by design there will be hidden paths and powerups that are only accessible by blowing holes through stuff. So much fun. Multiplayer mode is awesome well worth playing… A
So let’s look at the report card. After looking at the arbitrary grades I gave the aspects I’ve discussed and assigning them a numeric value….and then calculating an average. Red Faction gets an overall B. Red Faction isn’t the greatest game in the world, but it has some nice aspects. Gameplay is solid, the soundtrack is excellent, and the multiplayer mode is still a boat load of fun. Overall it gets my recommendation.