by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Better Red than Dead
Last generation Volition introduced us to the Red Faction, an organized resistance movement of workers and miners who fought for their survival against the oppressing Ultor mining company. Players fought throughout the innards of Mars and, in desperation, called for help from the Earth Defense Force (EDF) to help eliminate the Ultor threat. The second game in the series took us away from Mars to show us the rise to power of the EDF but for this title we are back on the red planet, fifty years after the events of the first game. Much has changed in the last half century. Mars has been terraformed, providing oxygen for everyone to breathe and the foundation for vegetation to grow on the planet’s once barren surface. The Ultor Corporation has all but been destroyed after the events of the previous two games and, logically, the citizens of Mars couldn’t be happier.
Well, logic didn’t win the day on Red Faction: Guerrilla. With the economy of Earth having all but collapsed, the military might of the EDF has been deployed to Mars to take over the mining operations there and help bolster things back home. With the deployment has come oppression far worse that anything the Ultor corporation had done; workers are being kidnapped in the night, arrests and indefinite detentions are handed out left and right. Any resistance to the EDF regime leads only to bloodshed. In response, the Red Faction has been reorganized to help rid Mars of the EDF threat. Enter Alec Mason, a newly arrived miner to Mars whose brother, a member of the Red Faction, is killed the same day. Out of revenge, Mason joins up with the fledgling resistance and plays a key role in the destruction of the EDF, all the while exploring Mars and discovering what has happened in the last fifty years.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it seems that this is more information than you get in the game itself. While the story has the potential to deliver an epic sci-fi adventure. But what is given to us is a series of pre-rendered cutscenes and heavy-handed dialogue that tell you very little about the world around you. Many potentially interesting plot points, like the ultimate fate of the Ultor Corporation after their downfall, remain unexplored. None of the secondary missions expand the plot and even an entire third faction remains un-explored until the very end of the game. Guerrilla could be so much more if they had delivered an interesting plot but as it stands they might as well not have had a story at all.
Life as a Human Wreaking Ball
The previous Red Faction games were known more for their technology than the rest of the game themselves. Utilizing a custom engine designed around environmental deformation, the previous games allowed players to carve their way throughout levels using whatever they saw fit. Dubbed the Geo-Mod engine, it helped make Volition’s first FPS game a smash hit and also served up untold numbers of hours of multiplayer action for me. Red Faction 2 didn’t impress me nearly as much as it did most of the review sites, mostly given the fact that there was just less stuff to blow up compared to the first game.
The elephant in the room clearly is the new Geo-Mod engine. Despite having reached “2.0” status the engine is pretty much entirely different from what we remember it to be as; instead of terrain being destructible, buildings are the object of focus. Terrain is completely indestructible so don’t waste your time trying to dig a tunnel through a hillside. The story of the engine’s development is an interesting read for those who want to learn about it, but let me sum up the experience of the Geo-Mod engine in a little story.
No Pros and Cons at this time