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Matt Keller
10 Jun, 2003

Red Faction II Review

Xbox Review | You say you want a revolution?
Red Faction is proof that a little bit of hype can go a long way when the console you are launching on is in the middle of a drought. The original game was released for the Playstation 2 in June of 2001 and went on to sell more than a million copies worldwide, as well as being inducted into the Platinum Range. Success of that magnitude virtually ensures that a sequel is on the way, and a sequel is exactly what we have received. Red Faction II made its first appearance for the Playstation 2 last Christmas, but now it’s time to experience the joy all over again on superior hardware.

All who oppose the Commonwealth shall perish!

For 15 years, Chancellor Victor Sopot has oppressed the people of the Commonwealth. His corrupt rule and a relentless war of unification with the United Republic has left the Commonwealth bloodied and impoverished. As distant battles rage, sewage taints Sopot City's rivers, pollution smudges the sky, and wretched citizens huddle in crumbling ruins. The Public Information Building, built by the dictator as a tribute to himself, broadcasts lies about Sopot's bravery and the Commonwealth's military victories. Condemned to death by Chancellor Sopot, six super-soldiers unite to save their country, vowing to overthrow Sopot using the unique powers that nano-technology has given them. You play as Alias, the team’s demolition expert, and fight along side Quill (Sniper), Tangier (Stealth), Repta (Heavy Weapons), Shrike (Vehicles) and Molov (Leader). Join forces with the Red Faction and put an end to Sopot’s tyranny.

Break down the wall... with a grenade!

Red Faction II boasts all sorts of new gameplay enhancements, such as a revamped Geo-Mod engine; Volition’s real time geometry modification system (i.e. Blow holes through walls with rockets), new weapons, new gadgets and new vehicles. Due to the fact that Red Faction II is based on Earth (original was based on Mars), level design, geometry and physics have changed substantially – the environment doesn’t seem as destructible as it was in the previous incarnation. AI seems to be improved, though its actions tend to be highly predictable, and the enemies don’t pose too much of a threat until they’re in large groups. One major new improvement to the gameplay system and plot is the implementation of a karma system (measured by the Heroics meter in the pause menu), which changes the outcome of the story based on the way you act during the game. Shoot too many innocents and it’ll be bad, protect the innocent and your team-mates and it’ll be good. FMV cutscenes have been added to the mix to further the story along, but the same message could have been conveyed using real time cutscenes, and could possibly have saved a bit of disc space.

Weapons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are several main types – your usual bullet weapons such as pistols and sub-machine guns, plasma weapons, explosives, grenades, rocket launchers and some unconventional weapons such as the rail driver, which allows you to detect and shoot people through walls. Akimbo weapons are also fairy nifty, as you use the left hand trigger to fire the left hand gun, and the right trigger to fire the right gun. As you progress through the game and defeat the bosses, you’ll be able to use the weapons they leave behind as well. There is a series of vehicles on top of the weaponry that you will be required to pilot or act as gunner on including a Mech suit, tank, hoverplane and submarine.

Multiplayer modes have seen a lot of extra attention in the sequel, with the inclusion of fully customisable bots as well as new game types such as Capture the Flag, Bagman, Regime and Arena. You can set the bots’ skins, favourite weapons, playing style and a whole bunch of other attributes. There are now more than 60 maps to play on across the different modes. Unfortunately, not all is blissful, as there is no online play over Xbox Live, nor is there an option for system link, so multiplayer is restricted to 4 players on the one system on the one screen, which can become too cramped for some people’s tastes.

Another stumbling point for Red Faction II is its overall length and difficulty. Due to the fact that the AI is utterly hopeless unless in large numbers, you’ll find that the only real sticking points in the game are the puzzles, which are very few in number. Given the fact that there are only 11 levels, you can expect the single player quest to be over relatively quickly. There are alternative endings based on your heroics, but I’d say this one will probably only last you 10 hours tops in single player. There’s enough content in the multiplayer to ensure that it will see some significant playing time, but that depends on whether you and your friends can handle playing on a split screen.

Re-decorate with a rocket launcher

Red Faction II has seen minor enhancements on its way from the Playstation 2 to the Xbox. The most significant of these is the boost in frame rate, as Red Faction II now runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, as opposed to the stuttery 30 frames we experienced on the Playstation 2 last Christmas. In comparison to other titles from the Xbox line up, Red Faction II begins to look rather pale. Textures aren’t of the greatest quality, environments are relatively barren and lifeless, and character models are less than impressive. Explosions and death animations can be somewhat impressive, however.

Some of the vocal work in Red Faction II has been provided by Hollywood actors including Lance Henriksen (The Terminator, Aliens) and Jason Statham (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The One). Voice work appears mainly through the game's cutscenes, though you will occasionally get contacted through your radio. Music seems to come second fiddle to the main sound effects, but without any significant surround sound support, the entire audio experience begins to suffer. Custom soundtracks are available during multiplayer, should you want to play your favourite songs about revolutions (Revolution 1, Talking About a Revolution, etc.).

Red friction

Red Faction II is a somewhat decent port, let down by the fact that it can’t really keep up with other games on the system when it comes to presentation. The main game is also very short, though the multiplayer component makes up for that, and at an RRP of $69.95, it’s well worth it if you and your mates need something to get by on until the release of Halo 2. If you want to play the best version of Red Faction II, then pick this up by all means – better control and a much smoother frame rate make it a much more enjoyable experience than the Playstation 2 version last year.
The Score
Easily the best version of Red Faction II available on the market. A solid first person shooter, but just a little easy and short on the single player side. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  THQ
Developer:
  Volition Inc.
Players:
  1-4
Memory Blocks:
  Hard Drive Save

Extra:
Analog Control
Vibration

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