Red Faction

Overview

Your character, Parker, is a miner on a colony on Mars. He went there thinking the experience was going to be exciting, but he soon finds out that Hannibal Lecter’s birthday party would be a picnic compared to a life in the mines. The company that owns the mines (Ultor) treat the miners like dogs. They live in poor conditions, they are frequently beaten and to top it all off there’s a deadly plague running around turning them all into hideous mutants. It’s only natural that the miners should want to revolt, and so the Red Faction is born, a group of miners lead by EOS against Ultor in an attempt to escape. You start in the middle of a big fight between guards and rebels and you soon make a much-needed friend called Hendrix who helps you to find your way to the Red faction via a com-link.

Throughout there are twists and turns, trust no one. It’s a highly original story that’ll keep you on your toes and can even rival that of Half-Life and Perfect Dark.

Gameplay

When playing the game this is the point where you think to yourself, is there anything that Red Faction doesn’t have? No. Lets start from the beginning. 15 weapons of varied mass destruction each appropriate for a certain situation. You have the Sniper Rifle, the Rocket launcher for those key not needed situations, a silenced pistol so you can shoot workers without being noticed-always good fun, you’ve got a rail gun complete with far-sight and the list goes on. Along with these you have a set of diverse transport options, complete with their own mass destructive weapons, to get you from A-B before you can say ’hang on there’s a wall there’. There’s a sub, a fighter ship, a jeep, a thunderbirds type mole and an APC. Wait, there are still more options you have to destroy scenery with. During the game you will encounter mounted cannons and machine gun turrets all of which you may use to you advantage. So you see, with all this it’s impossible to get bored with playing this game, well at least not for a very long time, as every situation you encounter is different.

If you have ever played Timesplitters then this will be quite easy to get to grips with as it uses exactly the same control system using both the analogue sticks. It is a lot heavier though and less sensitive but it is easy to get used to and very effective. The Geo-Mod technology is amazing to play around with. If you don’t have the key just blast around the door, it’s as simple as that, well not all the time. Most of the time just blasting through walls is pointless because you probably wont find anything behind them, you have to think logically. Also some doors and walls are made from reinforced metal, as are some windows that are made behind a steel mesh. This is perfect though, because if you could just blast your way through the whole game it would be pretty pointless but you can destroy everything that you think could be destroyed in real life. Gone are the days of going up to a rickety old door with a padlock and then having to trek back to where you came from and look for the key. So how does the arbitrary geographical modification actually work? Well it’s simple really, each weapon has a number to go with it that signifies its strength and each wall, or brush, also has a number. When you fire a weapon at a brush the two numbers are compared and the Geo-Mod is rendered on the wall deforming it appropriately. Genius. This with the amazing physics engine can get you out of some pretty sticky moments a generate some beautiful eye candy in the process. For example, in front of you there is a sniper tower complete with it’s own sniper minding his business until he makes that silly move and starts firing at you. We can’t have that now can we, so just get your rocket launcher and fire at the base and what do you know, it crumbles and the top half comes crashing down just like in those demolition videos. Gravity applies in this game, there’ll be no towers held up by a tiny thread of rock here.

The soundtrack also plays an important part in the game and it will change according to the situation you’re in and that’s the sort of thing I love in a game. Running into a room guns blazing with a pumping sound track in the background, it makes you feel like a Hollywood superstar. Then there are the moments of suspense when the music is slow and runs the wind up you. Is there anything that isn’t perfect? Actually there is, and that is the Multi-player mode, or in this case the lack of one. We have a fantastic Two-player mode that I have spent a few hours of fun on; it’s so good in fact that Jo Dark would be quaking in her boots. Why though do we not have 4-players? It could have been so much better and we could have got twice the goodness for the price. Never the less, 2-players is still stonking fun.

Graphics

The graphics are, as you would expect them to be, fantastic, but a little frustratingly dark in places. One of the most stunning things, all though it may seem small, is the way that the glass shatters. In most games, when you shoot at glass you will see it break in a familiar way maybe into 3 or 4 large shards and then fall to the floor in those pieces, after a while it would probably disappear too. What you see in Red Faction though is a demonstration as to how much observation and time has been used to create this game and its life-like environments. If you shoot the glass with a pistol, the glass will firstly crack around the bullet hole, then the whole thing will shatter into tiny pieces and fall down with the help of a breathtaking physics engine. The glass will then stay on the ground. However if you shoot it with a rocket launcher it’ll obviously break in a completely different way. The amount of detail is awesome and it’s always the little things that really take you back, for instance gases and smoke. Smoke and steam will rise in a realistic way from vents on the floor and other places and its path can be moved by gusts of wind but more amazingly the force from an explosion nearby can displace it. You probably won’t be admiring something this small when playing the game, but never the less it’s still a stunning piece of work.

Lighting is also a strong point in the game and the mood changes dramatically very well. The dark red stone of mars makes for a more atmospheric experience and the explosions have more effect. When in fighters or subs the areas are dark but cats eye style lights lead the way and so do the lights from enemy craft, blinding you once with their head lights but then blinding you again with the fire from there hides as you take them down.

Red Faction comes complete with cut scenes that bulge with quality almost with a comic book style but still keeping with a realistic effect. You’ll see what I mean when you look at parker out of his suit, it’s Bruce Wayne I’m sure of it! They are good but they don’t boast the in game quality of The Bouncer or Final Fantasy X, saying this though the graphics do have style, a style which is hard to get picky with so I’m not going too. Maybe they could have sacrificed some of the lesser seen of details for some that would be more noticeable, for instance, the room going dark when a light is shot or a computer smashing into bits instead of disappearing when shot. You can’t have everything though can you and Red Faction is still a step in the right direction for stunning detail and a new gaming benchmark.

Fun Factor

To be honest I don’t think there is anything in this game that you will not find the best of fun. It’s hard to pick out one aspect because everything is just so good. The way the story comes together with gameplay and you have to carry out objectives that are never the same, the way you can just jump into any mode of transport you find, the way you can simply wreak havoc with a rocket launcher and the good old sniper rifle is here too, the list is endless. Absolutely amazing stuff and never repetitive, apart from when the guards really annoy you when they constantly say, ’have mercy!’ when they are low on ammo. Even that is fun though because it makes you want to redecorate the walls with them! Nothing compares!

Overall

Red Faction has set a new benchmark for the first person shooter experience. Its story is a Half-Life beater, its pace of play is a Perfect Dark beater and its shear style is a Goldeneye beater. One thing that makes a games journalist is to be able to distinguish Genius from personal preference, just like fine art you could say. Well this combines the two, it will be hard to find something here that does not satisfy your personal preference and it’s all pure genius.