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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

Hope to Receive it as a Gift

Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Volition, Inc.
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-4
October 15, 2002
Red Faction: Armageddon

Red Faction: Armageddon

Red Faction: Armageddon

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Red Faction: Battlegrounds

More in this Series
 Written by Chris Reiter  on November 26, 2002

Full Review: Red Recall? Total Faction? You decide!

Once upon a time in a dark, dark dungeon, a Frankenstein monster was brought to existence by a mad scientist locked away in his laboratory. With the power of lightning, he brought an experiment to life, and named it the PlayStation 2. PlayStation 2 began its birth by learning how to entertain people with its newfound tricks of gaming crowds with "fighting," "racing," "RPGing," amongst a slew of others. Although this was only a beginning for the machine that had yet to properly mature, there was still a major lack of what the crowds wanted from it. So after about half a year of exceeding in new styles of tricks, the PlayStation 2 finally caught up with everyone, and gave the world a "shooter" presentation that literally knocked their socks off. And with immediate success, Red Faction became one of the best all time First Person Shooter games to release on any console. Now THQ and Volition have trailed down that path to create the game's successor, Red Faction 2.

Red Faction 2's premise has little to do with its previous storyline, as you begin five years after the end of Red Faction with a brand new character that also happens to be the bad guy. Alias is one part of a six person group, enhanced with Mars' stolen Nanotechnology to be quicker, stronger, and smarter than any other soldier by Sopot, the Chancellor of Earth's democratic force working against the Red Faction who resist Sopot's hatred actions against humanity. The year is 2161, and the members of Alias's elite team are soon to find out that Chancellor Sopot will fear the team's unbeatable power, become the enemy they serve well, and the man that must be destroyed by working together in an effort to help support the Red Faction's fight for freedom amidst the Commonwealth.

Your six team strong hold exists in diversity between one character after the next that is equipped with a unique style of their own to help you as Alias take down the Red Faction's common threat. There's Shrike -- a man mad for speed, he can handle any vehicle known to man, and does a damn fine job at it too; Quill -- the conscious-less sniper who will kill anybody, anytime without much a reason, and from without them knowing it's coming; Tangier; silent and deadly, she's a slick assassin who uses stealth to make her enemies unaware of what's going to happen to them; Repta -- he's havoc packed into one human body, and he can take down anything in his sights with the loads of heavy artillery he has packing on him; Molov -- the team leader, a man who knows what to do in any situation; and then there's Alias -- the team's demolition's expert. Combined with your sharp shooting and explosive knowledge of things, throughout various sections of the game your team will put their skills to work with nothing to stop a victory from surfacing.

Areas in which your fellow mates offer their assistance involve parts where one scenario has you planting explosives on separate support pillars of a bridge while Quill takes out the enemy from afar and giving you the heads up when a speeding train of death passes by. Another part has you teamed up with Repta to eradicate the threat of an entire building crawling with squadrons of soldiers. In other cases, you'll even get to commandeer your own vehicle or two. The bad thing about it is that most of the time you're not even controlling the amount of rides the first game had to offer, and not even at all at some points. Now there's only but a few futuristic modes of transportation, which range from an attack helicopter, to a submarine, a tank, and even a mech robot. It's only sad to see that you have no other option but to let your computer compadre do all of the driving when it comes to some really cool vehicles (not that shooting at everything that gets in your way with them is all that bad).

When Red Faction 2 isn't focusing on its team gameplay, you're in control of your own destiny, for the most part anyway. In solo mode it's all you. There's nothing but your hands, an itchy trigger finger, and a bunch of guns to take out any opposition that dares cross your path. Much of the game's arsenal is relatively the same found in the first game, including the pistol weapon, the assault rifle, the grenade launcher, the shotgun, and even one of the coolest weapons this side of the galaxy, the rail gun (allowing you to shoot through walls first and ask questions later). But for a first, the sequel also hands out double uzis to fire upon unsuspecting foes with. Not only do you have access to shoot-bang-bang-killing weapons, but also as a man who likes to lay claim to blowing up the bad guys, you get your very own selection of tossable grenades. There's your regular throwing grenade, which basically blows anything in its path to smithereens, then there's your incendiary one that puts an emphasis on lighting up the enemy's life, and for a real spectacle there's the satchel one that attaches to the wall and lets the demolishing begin within moments.

Having all of these cool weapons means that there have to be some really cool enemies to fight, right? Well, the answer to that would be yes and then no. Red Faction 2 is actually quite a good game. Yet, there are those noticeable problems that constantly pop up throughout the game. Unlike the first game, Red Faction 2 only lets you save through your adventure automatically when it wants you to save by doing it for you automatically. This isn't necessarily anything too bad until you get to the point where you might have only an inch of ammo or health left in your menu, and the game saves itself without warning you, and without even restoring your stock to at least a minimum of what is necessary in terms of getting ahead. Only, none of which would be too big a deal if it weren't for enemies that can respawn many times over in a number of places you'll need to visit to get through the single player story mode. Especially if your escape from these never ending chains of bullet fire that link onto you like a leech isn't so obvious, the game will become a problem that's undoubtedly frustrating to solve.

If it weren't for Red Faction's ability to literally break through the walls of the game's multiple environments, then there wouldn't be much innovation having to do with it. Volition's "Geo-Mod" engine, as they call it is the power to go through just about any breakable layer you see in the game, whether it be a wall, floor, or ceiling, and it's breakable, you have a way. How the original used this feature though wasn't very much. The idea was novel beyond its time; even though you didn't actually NEED TO put its theory into motion. Stopping there and realizing that was something they had to make part of the sequel, Volition went to work and did a reverse process where breaking, bombing, and blowing through stuff is now a way of life, instead of not. If you hate having to search for the doorway in, forget about it -- make a new one! If action just isn't your deal, why not take a sewage route underground instead. Dismantling pathways isn't your only option though, with there being enemy ground and air vehicles, street lamps, computers, and even giant robots to put a dent into. There's really no limit to what you can find to break in this game.

Up against homing spider bombs, security guards, armored fighters, all types of vehicle weapons, and others, the gameplay will have you performing the smallest mission types, to the most extreme. Clearing out areas, or helping your fellow Faction member survive an ambush is usually the kinds of options you have to deal with in your travels. What's great about the game also is that the farther you get into it, the more you'll unlock hidden features such as character art and even the game's movie clips (including a making of the game feature). Controllability over Alias is pretty much like how Parker handled in the first Red. Shooting occurs with the L1 and R1 buttons, bomb disposal happens with the L2 button, and weapon selection of different gun types goes well with the square and circle buttons. Choosing your grenade type and opening the new mission at hand involves tapping down on the directional pad, where moving around can easily be done by taking hold of the analog sticks. And only within about ten minutes will you have the feel -- the ability to be the ever explosive and elusive Alias.

Playing against other people is what most First Person Shooters are all about. Without anything too relevant to that fact in last year's Red Faction release, Volition went ahead and improved upon the game's slim pickings and now offers a much more diverse four-player experience this time around. By connecting with up to three other friends, you can head on in and play against them or the computer with fancy killing modes such as Deathmatch -- head against others in a brawl to the finish; Team Deathmatch -- cooperate in killing a slew of deadly adversaries; Capture the Flag; be the first to get that flag from their base to yours; Team Capture the Flag; it's you and others in this together to get that other team's prize possession; and still other modes that put on the power of "team play" with dozens of levels in which to choose from. Even without a friend or two, you have the option to play against up to five computer controlled menaces to take down or team up with to finish your reason for multiplayer mayhem.

Looking good means a lot in this day and age for technology. While this shooter sequel doesn't disappoint on that area, the game is still not as beautiful as even some earlier games on the system. There is actually a lot going for the game, with its massive city surroundings: large buildings and all. Then you'll get a taste of inside some areas, having all sorts of technological happenings happening. One new featured trait of the game is its effect to bring rain or shine down upon outside surroundings, areas which feature rubble laying about, steaming manholes, caution posts, cracked and broken through walls, flaming machinery, and lots of other stuff that gives you the idea that this is no mere friendly future you're dealing with. And in the shadowy and light filled parts of these environments, you can catch a glimpse of peering up at the sky as a burning building sits still in the glare of the sun's setting, dim underground areas of pipes and rock terrain that light up with your night goggle vision to a whole new shade of green, and shadows that follow characters other than yourself realistically and naturally as they could.

Through some parts though, the game falls flat. The sewage water in one level leaves more to be desired, with the green liquid barely responsive as Alias wades through its entirety. Textures and character models blend together gorgeously, on the other hand. If you thought the first game had well developed personalities in people, wait until you see the sequel's difference! From guards that scatter off after tossing a grenade their way, enemies that duck for cover behind objects, enemies that run around aflame screaming and passing out when their life meter reaches zero, and you, with your two hands out the whole time locking and loading like a real resistance man would, the characteristics traceably never seem to falter any.

What's that sound? It's the sound of bullet fire hitting the enemy's body. What's that noise? It's the wall falling apart after you've turned it into Swiss cheese. And what the heck's that thing I'm hearing? That thing is just a futuristic airborne vehicle hovering and destroying everything in its path. There's definitely a lot to be heard in Red Faction 2's stream of audio, from the every day clinking of bullets falling to the ground, to your very own footsteps splishing and splashing and running across all playable areas to get to what you're after and hearing it actually happen. Music too emits an adventure-enabled tone made up of heavy thuds to light keyboard rhythms appropriate for your average killing spree.

Easily, voice acting was one of the more significant aspects that made the first game such a success. Doing it again, Red Faction 2 has a cast of famous faces making the game come to life, from Lance Henriksen (who coincidentally also does the voice of other game characters, including the part of Captain Nick Conner from this fall's horror release Run Like Hell) to Jason Statham of The One, Ghosts of Mars, and my personal favorite, Snatch. The game's many enemies have their own voices too, albeit that they're pretty generic, and only say the same thing most of the time from, "Grenade!" after throwing one to, "You signed up with the wrong team!" Basically, the voice acting is only as good as the story makes it, but other than that, there's not much involved in this particular area to praise the game enough for.

Bottom Line
I was hoping for a sequel I'd be proud to call "The Best First Person Shooter of 2002." Seriously. Red Faction today is still my favorite all-time First Person Shooter on any platform. It's got it all, from an original storyline, to innovative gameplay mechanics, and even a list of other realistic features you won't find anywhere else. But honestly, the sequel disappoints me somewhat, and it's a question I can't even find an answer to. The game is superb in many ways, and yet, it's hard to discern the main cause. Maybe it's the fact the story is weaker in comparison to the first game's, or maybe the first game didn't need to be changed all that much to make it so much better. Sometimes the only option you have is to do nothing to make something: a lesson Volition needs to learn in the long run.

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