Red Faction 2
Well, I would never have seen that coming. More social commentary. This time a blatant statement about the questionable nature of the Gulf War. Even going so far as to use an almost identical likeness of Saddam Hussein. Chancellor Sopot, as he is called here, is pegged as the big bad from the get-go. Only to be rapidly replaced by your own commanding officer. The symbolism couldn’t be any more in your face if his name was George. And because of this, it fails to have the same impact as the first game. Though this time, I did notice it on my initial playthrough, all those years ago.
Sadly, the symbolism isn’t the only area where the game falls short. Way short. The Geomod, which was truly astounding, even now, from the first game, was stripped down horrendously. And whilst the physics of destruction is a lot smoother, and does offer some interesting tactical options. The scale is so appallingly reduced, it ends up being nothing more than a cheap gimmick. And a way to exploit the significantly less intelligent AI. Watching them still try to hide behind a corner you already obliterated is, frankly, quite sad.
Even the visual fidelity is a downgrade. Which wouldn’t be too bad if the game offered larger environments. But, for the most part, it’s one narrow corridor after another, which makes the game extremely linear by comparison. And, considering the first game was also linear, that is not a good thing. Not at all. Nor is the significantly shorter, clichéd and contrived plot. Though at least the multiplayer still offers some fun. It just doesn’t live up to it’s predecessor. And it really comes as no surprise that the series was shelved for so long. Frankly, looking back on it now, I’m surprised it was ever revived.
The worst part of it all, is that Red Faction 2 isn’t even a bad game. It’s just so much wasted potential. With a plot that has only a minimal amount of influence from the first. And all that amounts to is nano machines. Which, admittedly, at least give an acceptable reason for why your health regenerates so rapidly. The long and the short of it is this, even were this not overshadowed by it’s vastly superior predecessor, it would still be a pretty dull game. Though the levels themselves are pretty, with some good use of colour for tone, as well as some impressive lighting. And, I suppose, the gunplay isn’t terrible. There just, really, isn’t anything that makes it stand out from the crowd....
Are you an angel?
Well, apart from Jason Statham that is. Who offers his so quintessential Southern English tones to the character of Shrike. And Lance ‘do the thing with the knife’ Henrikson as Molov. But they, frankly, are the only things that really leave any impact. Tearing great, steaming chunks of awesome out of the game. Unlike the rockets that I blasted into every wall I saw. I’m just glad Volition learned their lesson, and massively redeemed themselves with Guerrilla. But that, my friends, is a story for another time.