It is the twenty-second
century, five years after the miner rebellion on Mars. Another planet is in need of your
help. This time its Earth. For fifteen years a tyrannical despot named Victor Sopot
has corrupted the Commonwealth with lies, and torn it asunder with war. The time has come
to free the impoverished people from his reign of terror.
Welcome again to the bleak,
oppressive, future landscape of Red Faction. The first title, released about this time
last year, was the first story-driven FPS on the tournament/frag-fest laden PS2, and it
was welcomed by fans with open arms. It also introduced gamers to a little thing called
Geo-Mod, a game engine that allows real-time destruction of the game environment. With Red
Faction 2, THQ and Volition are giving us exactly what we want from a sequel. Keeping the
tone of the first game, they have taken the story, Geo-Mod engine, gameplay and graphics
to the next level, while addressing various complaints fans had last time around.
with the changes of venue and villain comes an interesting change in lead character, or
should I say characters. This time, rather than leaping into the shoes of a
comically outmatched everyman-turned-revolutionary hero, you belong to a squad of six
elite super-soldiers. Your character, Alias, is an expert in demolitionstrained in
combat, enhanced by nano-technology. Improved AI allows the other members of your squad to
function independently alongside of you, and each characters unique skills will aid
in completing your missions. Squad-based gameplay is nothing newwe see it all the
time in RPGs, third-person action titles, and Star Wars shooters. It is rarely used
in console FPS games, however, and it is a welcome addition to an already innovative
game, as presented at E3 2002, was a little over 30% complete, so not all of the Geo-Mod
capabilities were intact. However, even at this early stage in development, two
improvements were obvious. First, it has been better integrated into the action of the
game. In Red Faction, Geo-Mod mostly allowed you to tunnel around in cave walls, bypass
some doors and the like. Occasionally, you would use it to take out a bridge, and there
were moments where you would use it on the fly, blowing through a wall to make an escape,
or dropping a stalactite onto an unsuspecting foe, but these times were few and far
between. This is not the case in Red Faction 2. One level we were able to play involves a
firefight in an office filled with cubicles. The problem, other than the guys shooting at
you, is that the main hallway is guarded by a turret. The best way to engage the enemies,
and make your way around the turret is to blow your way through the cubicle walls one by
one. Once you reach the turret, you can simply sneak around behind it and turn it off.
Second, and this is really cool, the enemies are now able to use Geo-Mod to their
advantage, too. No longer will your enemy merely be the victim of your unique ability to
deform your surroundings. They will be using it against you as well.
predecessor, Red Faction 2 will feature several different vehicles, including a tank, a
hover jet, and submarine. As you would expect, several new weapons have been added. Some
of the coolest include dual pistols and machine guns that can be fired independently using
both the R1 and L1 triggers. Grenades and bombs can also be used in tandem with other
weapons, making it possible to fire a machine gun while holding and throwing a grenade,
which is a pretty formidable combination, especially when you throw Geo-Mod into the mix.
graphics in Red Faction 2 have improved tremendously, and those of the first game were
pretty darn good. In general, all of the detail and articulation are back and better than
ever. Specifically, there are some lighting, weather, and special effects that are
breathtaking. A portion of the playable demo at E3 took you outside into a rainstorm. The
rain falls in different directions and changes with the wind. Those who have played Metal
Gear Solid 2 know what I am talking about when I say something as simple as rain can make
a huge difference. Also, the lighting effects on the muzzle flashes and explosions are
developers have not shied away from addressing key complaints from fans of the last game,
either. For one, Red Faction 2 will support a keyboard and mouse for those who cant
do without. Most importantly, however, the multiplayer mode has been vastly improved.
Geo-Mod adds to the multiplayer experience tremendously, but it soon became apparent that
it alone could not carry the game. The 2-player limit, along with a small selection of
characters, bots, and almost no customization made the first titles multiplayer wear
out fast. The multiplayer mode in Red Faction 2 supports up to 4 players with the
multitap, includes a bot creator, and promises more customizable game play. It is still
undecided if there will be games other than deathmatch, but what was available to play at
E3 worked very well.
to the developers, they assured me that the story retains a lot of the humor, little nods,
and in-jokes that added so much to the previous game. Things like the constant ridicule of
your character from co-conspirators for being so oblivious gave a self-referential wink to
the necessity for games to point out your objectives. And the last piece of advice from
Eos when Parker asks her what he is supposed to do now that its all over:
"youre a hero now
go home, find a job, get a girlfriend." Its
as if she was speaking directly to pasty faced gamers everywhere.
Faction 2 is certainly one of the most anticipated games coming to the PS2 in 2002. The
THQ booth at E3 was one of my first stops specifically to see this game. As a fan, I must
say that it is shaping up quite well. THQ and Volition are taking their time, making it
right, and showing love to the fans.
Youll get your chance to take down tyranny in Red Faction 2, coming to the PS2 in