Red Faction 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
THQ
Developer
Volition
Genre
First Person Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Improved Graphics
• Good voice work
• Improved Geo-Mod

The Bad

• Over too fast
• Still not using full potential of Geo-Mod technology

 
Grade
B+

Red Faction II picks up roughly 5 years after Red Faction, with the miner revolt on Mars over, but a new revolution starting right here on Earth. The government is led by the dictator-like Chancellor Sopot, who has decreed that all nano-enhanced soldiers must be destroyed. He succeeds in his goal, save for 6 soldiers, which include your character, Alias, and his squad mates, Repta, Quill, Tangier, Shrike and Molov. With the help of the newly founded Earth-based Red Faction, you set out on a mission to overthrow Chancellor Sopot and end his fanatical regime, helping the Red Faction retake control of the government and give freedom back to the people.

Graphically, this game is quite a bit better than it's predecessor. Instead of the red, dimly lit corridors of the mines and industrial complex on Mars, you get to play in city streets, subways, office buildings, military bases, sewers and a massive cityscape. Weapon and character models have been improved, and there are a better variety of enemies to kill this time around. There are no draw distance problems, even when flying through the city's skyline or driving down the freeway in a tank. Weapons have distinct firing bursts, and bullet holes rip through walls while rockets and grenades take huge chunks out of them.

Speaking of vehicles, Red Faction II includes 4 vehicles to destroy things with, although you only get to drive 2 of them. The tank and fighter jet are driven by your partner Shrike, while you serve as the gunner. The submarine functions almost exactly the same as it did in Red Faction, with only one level devoted to it. By far the most interesting (and fun) vehicle in Red Faction II is the battle armor. While in the armor, your jump and crouch buttons serve as missile and grenade triggers, while your primary and secondary attacks fire mini-guns. This is surprisingly satisfying, running down a hallway or street firing all 4 weapons at a time results in some impressive carnage. Unfortunately, with the exception of a single level in the fighter jet, the other vehicle levels are pretty boring, as you are forced down a specific path, and the entire level is pre-scripted.

Audio in Red Faction II isn't particularly spectacular, but it gets the job done. The weapons all have distinct firing sounds, and the main characters are well voiced, with Lance Henrickson as Molov and Jason Statham as Shrike, and the basic enemies and civilians sound quite good as well. The music is fairly standard; nothing amazing but nothing that distracts from the game either. The only problem comes with some of the weapons; many sound the same, and some sound pretty weak compared to what their models look like.

The main draw of the Red Faction series has been the Geo-Mod technology, and while Red Faction II makes better use of it than Red Faction, it still doesn't feel like Volition has utilized the full potential of their creation. You can destroy many more walls and structures this time around, but there is almost no reason to, as they rarely lead to anything worthwhile. Also, certain objects are indestructible due to level design, you often times will blow through a concrete wall or two, then find a flimsy wooden door that won't budge, no matter how many rockets you pump into it. There are only a few levels that make you use the Geo-Mod feature to progress, and it's always obvious what you need to destroy to move on.

Multiplayer is improved in this sequel, with more levels and game types than before. Some of the levels from Red Faction make a return, with some new levels clearly inspired by Quake and Unreal Tournament. The bots are as intelligent as you want them to be; set them to the lowest level and you will walk over them, on the highest setting you will get your ass handed to you constantly. The game supports up to 4 human controlled players at a time, with a max of 6 players in a match. This keeps the game running smoothly, and the frame rate only drops on the rare occasion that all characters are in the same area, firing explosive weapons.

Control is a breeze in Red Faction II. The analog sticks are used to aim and move, while the shoulder buttons control your firing, jumping and crouching. Most weapons have a primary and secondary fire attack, and a few weapons can be used 2-handed, with primary fire controlling the right gun and secondary fire the left. This comes in handy in certain situations; you can be firing at the enemy with one gun while reloading the second, causing a constant stream of fire on your opponent. Or you can unleash both guns at the same time, pumping your target full of lead and ensuring he stays down.

Unfortunately, not everything about the game is good. While there is a larger selection of weapons this time around, not many of them are worth using; you find yourself using the same 3-4 weapons throughout the entire game. As mentioned before, with the exception of the battle armor, the vehicles aren't very well implemented, and the submarine level is frustrating. Geo-Mod technology still hasn't seen it's full potential, and the music isn't anything to write home about. Finally, the game is quite short, on normal difficulty the average player should be able to finish the game in about 8-10 hours, with little incentive to play through again.

Overall though, Red Faction II improves enough over Red Faction that it's worth your time. The levels are solid, and the enemy AI provides a fair challenge, ramping up in difficulty as you progress through the game. While Geo-Mod still could be used better, the places you do use it in the game are quite fun, and it's great to jump in the battle armor and lay waste to everything on screen. Fans of the first Red Faction will enjoy this game, and those who never played it will find plenty to like as well.

- - Darken Rahl

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