In this retro review, we’ll take a look back at one of the more oft-overlooked first-person shooters, “Red Faction”. In essence you assume the role of a disgruntled Martian Miner, a person who was basically tricked into joining up to serve a few tours of duty as a laborer only to find out that (once you got there) the corporation running the show decided to change up the deal. Of course you and your fellow workers don’t remain permanently peeved for long, after organizing a rebellion a big push is made to overthrow Ultor and restore some sense of order and sanity. You really only have one choice – success, assuming you’re triumphant it might mean a passage back home, if you fail, you’ll become just another added feature to the natural landscape of Mars.
Needless to say, this little sci-fi game is a gem. Aside from providing a satisfying bit of first-person gameplay on the PS2 it also introduces the ability to destroy the surrounding environment. In other words, you can actually choose to blow up the rock surrounding a locked door in lieu of conventionally opening it. While this might sound like a dumb gimmick to some, it’s actually quite inventive and is something that very few (if any) modern games seem to integrate, making it truly one-of-a-kind.
In spite of the game’s destructive levels you still have to trek your way across the Martian terrain to try and escape the evil Ultor Corporation and its attempts to experiment on its employees. While this might come across as being somewhat generic (and it is, just a bit), Red Faction’s gameplay makes up for any perceived shortcomings in its plot. All in all, it’s a solid first-person shooter which takes perfect advantage of the emergent “geo-mod” technology which allows the player to tunnel into the map. Aside from the more conventional FPS trappings there are also some rather tense boss battles scattered throughout, although they tend to be rather anti-climatic at times.
Don’t think that it’s all just dusty Martian locales and stolid office buildings though, you’ll also traverse sections underwater and across other unique areas. It really is a game that pulls you in and absolutely demands that you take up arms against your oppressors and their wicked immoral ways.
In terms of overall feel, Red Faction plays a bit like half life, but that’s really an unfair comparison because they’re stemming from two entirely different mindsets. Regardless, this is a game that takes you on a journey and refuses to let go until you’ve had your revenge. The game’s developers did a great job of promoting a sense of urgency which seems to propel you forward when the action dies down.