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FPS-s are a dime a dozen these days. But one shooter I was looking forward to all season was Volition's Red Faction. Set in Mars and about a mining corporation sort of reminded me of Total Recall, the movie. But I assure you it's a pretty different storyline altogether. Released for the PS2 earlier this game received shall we say critical acclaim, but on the PC where the standard has been set by Half-life and more recently No one Lives forever, how does this sci-fi shooter fare.

Well to begin with, this game features something the designers call Geo-Mod technology, basically, Geo-Mod allows you to actually carve into the environments using certain weapons. Have a door, don't have a key then blow it away. Wanna surprise a roomful of baddies then blow a hole in the wall and charge in. Hampered by enemy small arms fire dig yourself a foxhole with explosives. Possibilities are endless. Besides blowing up stuff is just way too cool. 

The story is as far as stories in games go actually new. But it's derivative. You play the role of Parker, a miner who works his ass off for a mining corporation called Ultor. Slowly a revolution starts to brew, and as your friend on the inside, Hendrix, and your rebel friend, Eos, tell you what to do and who to kill and why they're bad. Half of the game is spent hunting this evil scientist, and then the other half is spent hunting this team of evil mercenaries who have no motive other than destruction and mayhem. 

Pretty generic settings and highly inspired by HalfLife and other sci-fi shooters, Red Faction does look pretty. But pretty is the first word you find in Volition's resume-they did design the gorgeous space sim Freespace 2-the next word used to be creativity. This game isn't much in the way of new weapons or level design that we haven't seen before. The character models are also pretty plain, with the coolest looking enemy being the giant personnel suppression robot that you only get to fight once, and whose death comes by being burned in an incinerator. Say it with me - Half Life.

Control scheme is the standard W,A,S,D and mouse combo - as if anybody expected otherwise. Parker has a huge arsenal of weapons that he carries around in his hazard suit ala Half Life. The guns are cool and a lot of fun to use until they become obsolete. As the game advances the enemies get a lot tougher, rendering most of the guns you used earlier in the game completely useless. You wind up using only about four guns at any one time, which definitely gets repetitive.  

One question though. Faction means group or a section or a party dedicated to a cause. Then why the heck am I the only guy running and gunning the dead shot aim mercenaries. Where are my buddies? A bit of team based gameplay might have set it apart from the pack. 

AI in the game is pretty competent. I've never encountered enemies who were so apt at kicking my ass before (except that bot in UT). Even on normal difficulty, the mercs toting railguns can kill you with one shot, and they can see through walls (although apparently they don't look very often). They also tend to flee when they take some damage or run out of ammo, but on the other hand, they aren't good at working in groups and they don't flush you out when you're hiding. 

There are also a couple stealth missions which serve as a nice change of pace and mood. In these missions, you get to walk around in a disguise and try to avoid cameras and the watchful eyes of guards while you proceed to kill everyone and drag their bodies into office cubicles. Sadly, the guards in these levels are boringly stupid and the setups don't display much creativity (a hostage situation would have been cool). Still, the levels are short and offer a nice break from the up-tempo action of the rest of the game.

The audio is mixed. The music is terrific and helps establish the right mood; I really enjoy the creepy techno music that accompanies the really stressful moments in the game. On the other hand, the voices are weak and the weapon noises are pretty standard.

This being a Volition game and all you get drivable vehicles aplenty. Most of the levels involve cruising down a canyon or underwater tunnel and blasting slow moving enemies with heat seeking torpedoes/rockets. The vehicles you get to choose from include a jeep, an APC, a submarine, an Aesir jet fighter and a big driller thing (deja vu) . While the vehicles afford you the opportunity to exact a little payback from otherwise troublesome enemies, you never get to do much more than that. How about some daring escapes or amazing maneuvers? 

In addition to the single player campaign (which is pretty short; takes about 10 hours to beat), Red Faction comes with a multiplayer mode and a level editor. The multiplayer mode only contains the most generic scenarios (Deathmatch, Capture the Flag) and are a little too chaotic to be fun for long. The Geo-Mod concept sounds great on paper but gets really wily when you get a match going with a bunch of guys.

Breaking "old" grounds in a new way is how I can describe Red Faction. It's pretty, fast and uninspired. If you like fast paced gun wielding FPS-s give this a whirl.



Game Info

Game Name: Red Faction.

Genre: First Person Shooter.
Publisher: THQ.
Reviewed by:
Hitech Sweetheart.
Mail him.

Game Score: [Five lightning rating]

Story / Plot:
Reviewer's Tilt :

Game Tested on:

- PIII 800 Mhz
- 128 MB RAM
- nVidia Geforce2 GTS.
- Windows ME

The Good: Fast gameplay, Geo-Mod, Good music
The Bad: Boring level design.
The Ugly: The story.