|Red Faction II|
Release Date: Out Now
If you've never heard of Red Faction then here's the deal: It's a first person shooter with a big difference; instead of just being aerate enemies you can blow holes in the scenery as well. Sounds good? Well it is, sort of…
The original Red Faction's clever 'Geo Mod' game engine revolutionised the first person genre with its destructible scenery- but most gamers thought that it didn't go far enough, and the game's inconsistency (you could blow holes in some walls and not others) sapped immersion. The game was set on Mars and had lots of tunnels; Red Faction 2 moves the action to Earth, your team of nano-technology enhanced soldiers battling against the Planet's Saddam-like Governor Sopot and his regime.
The game is broken down into lots of smallish sub-levels (that thankfully load quickly) and mix up first-person shooting and vehicular action. Your buddies help you out in both first-person levels and the occasional level in which they pilot or drive a craft or tank while you take control if the guns (cool). The Geo Mod gets a good workout during these sections too, with all kinds of buildings and scenery getting demolished as you fly/ride around blasting.
The tedious plot soon became little more than a distraction for me, and you'll see the supposedly shocking twist coming a mile away. I had real problems with caring about the RF2's hero (Alias - that's you) and his team enhanced freedom fighters (Molov, Tangier, Quill, Repta and Shrike), and the rest of the game's character's consist mostly of mutants and dumbass grunt soldiers that are seldom anything other than cannon fodder. Aahh yes, the cannons - this is where RF2 shines as it lets you run wild with some seriously cool weapons (of all shapes and sizes) - it even allows you to use several of the smaller ones (pistols & Uzis) two handed!- and in a moment of brilliance, they even allow you to fire & reload them independently.
The AI and animation of the enemy in RF2 is less impressive though, although they'll duck, hide and retreat there are also places where they run straight at you until you kill them. They also move in an annoying, speedy, twitchy fashion that means that they seldom fool you into thinking they're human and are often hard to target. I also don't rate the manufactured feel of levels culminating into 'boss battles' - some are tough, some are strangely easy and at times amusing in their simplicity, but they're all a bit corny. The game isn't exactly a visual feast by Xbox standards either, it's always smooth and slick, but the environments consist of PS2-standard textures and are all fairly small and linear. I'd have to say that the settings and the use of the Geo Mod engine don't really appeal as much as the original game, and never capture the same atmosphere.
But if you're looking for an action packed shooter you could do a lot worse. It won't last all that long (the original Red Faction felt longer and more dramatic to me) but with literally loads of multiplayer maps (50!) and the ability to use all the characters in the game, if you play shooters with mates you could do a lot worse. It's a shame that Outrage (the developers of this Xbox version of RF2) didn't give us system link or Xbox Live options, because it would have raised RF2's appeal considerably.
- Blow up scenery! Lots of it!
- Some cool weapons, vehicular shooting and loads of multiplayer levels.
- Looks like a PS2 game.
- Small, linear levels rarely immerse you.