In 2001 a revolutionary game was released that offered one of the most original experiences to the first person shooter genre to date, Red Faction. Now, the storyline and gameplay wasn’t all that different from what we have seen before, but what made this game so unique and stand out from the crowd was its Geo-Mod engine. This engine is built on real-time, arbitrary geometry modification, which in layman’s terms means you could literally blow the shit out of everything. You hear someone on the floor above you; shoot it out from under them. Don’t have a key for the door, no problem, just face the wall beside it and make a new doorway with your rockets. No gamer can say they didn’t enjoy this game, if even for only one night. Now it’s 2003, and the good folks at Volition Inc. have brought us the anticipated sequel to its original masterpiece.
The sound design of RF2 is pretty damn sweet for a FPS game. But what really blows me away has to be some of the talent behind the voiceovers. Your main character is done by Christian Campbell, who does the main voice for the CG cartoon Max Steele, which will probably please some of the younger gamers. But for the older generation, it’s really impressive to hear the likes of Lance Henriksen (aka Bishop the Android from “Aliens”) and my personal favorite - Jason Statham (Transporter, Snatch), give their best at doing voice acting for a video game. They truly bring their characters to life in this game. The game’s music provides an excellent atmosphere for the game too, combining the light techno with the mass chaos during battle.
Volition made their mark in the FPS genre with their Geo-Mod engine, and their all new version of said engine will definitely bring them closer into the tight group of fan favorites. As mentioned above, the beauty of this engine is the ability to completely destroy the terrain throughout the game. Mainly, this means everything including buildings and random objects within the map boundaries. Walls, pillars, statues, ledges, floors; you can totally remove these items in order to complete your objective. The models and textures received an overhaul from the first incarnation, with facial expressions and a new particle system for lighting effects. One of the most impressive features has to be the weapon effects. As in the first game, we see the return of the Rail gun. Now this is a thing of beauty to anyone who has watched the movie Eraser. When you go into zoom mode, you’re looking through some kind of sensor array that tracks the heart beat of everyone on the map. As in the movie, when you fire, a particle ray plows through all terrain and annihilates the target. Another sweet effect is through the scope of the sniper rifle. Now, with just about all games that include sniper use, all you do is zoom through it and see the guy up close, no big deal. Now, in RF2, when you look through your sniper scope, your targets are blurred a bit. This is pretty dam close to looking through a scope in real life. For future mod use, my favorite has to be the dual machine pistols. Running through an office with these guns perfects an in-game simulation of the lobby scene of the Matrix, with chunks taken out of the walls everywhere and shells covering the floors.
With all the power of the Geo-Mod engine, one would think that this could be one of the greatest games of the summer. Disappointment comes in many forms. First off, you are part of a genetic super combat squad that have been deemed traitors by your government and are now fighting with the rebels. Your main goal is to kill the ruthless dictator that runs the world. After completing this task, you find that your team leader now wants to rule and most of your team turns against you, so now each level has been given a boss. The levels are filled with huge amounts of enemies, in some cases never ending. The first level against your team you’re running through a graveyard with a bunch of gun toting hunchbacks after you. This became a quick waste of ammo and time since they ceased to stop coming. Vehicles play a small role within the games plot. There are 4 usable vehicles that you either gun for or control yourself during the single player storyline: Tank, Jetfighter, Submarine and Battle Suit. Each of these comes along at an important part during the game, but mainly you are just the gunner while one of your AI teammates drives.
The original Red Faction multiplayer is one of the most fun experiences in today’s FPS genre. It hurts to see how Volition did not include multiplayer in the PC version of RF2. The only thing you can do is bot match. Apparently, the network code is complete and in the game, considering all the console versions carry 4 player deathmatch. Hopefully this is added in upcoming patches. As for the bot matches, the AI is pretty simple and fairly easy to defeat. They run in simple, predictable patterns around the base, and unless they have the Rail Gun, are very easy to dominate. Of course, considering there are well over 20 maps, remembering them all is a task in itself. The modes for bot match contain DM, Team DM, CTF, Bagman and Arena. One of the more interesting options is the choice of making your own bot, complete with weapon preferences and difficulty level. Cranking up everything adds more of a challenge to the bots. Something that bugs me personally is the fact that while in a bot match, all items are just 2D icons lying around. Even though there is no online multiplayer, doesn’t mean they had to cut down on the eye candy in bot fights.
Red Faction deserved a sequel that could hold up the series and carry the torch for another year. RF2 does fall short of being considered a worthy sequel, but still offers a fun and unique experience in itself. Full judgment cannot be passed until we see if Volition will correct their mistake of removing multiplayer. Should this be included, RF2 can offer itself to the wider public audience and garner a good online community. As for now, your best bet would be to just wait for a demo to come along and make your buying decision then.