reviews\ Apr 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Red Faction: Battlegrounds Review


Close your eyes and remember back to when the original Xbox was released and the game MechAssault was in its heyday. Those were glorious times, but what made MechAssault work and grab the hearts of gamers? Giant innovative mechs, intense weaponry, massive explosions--and how did it always end up? Absolute multiplayer mayhem.

Fast forward to present day. Open your eyes, turn on your Xbox 360 and load up Red Faction: Battlegrounds. If you are looking for a revamped, cheaper version of your nostalgic memories of MechAssault, you’ll have to wait. Red Faction Battlegrounds is a bad downloadable game with a recognizable franchise name slapped on it.

Red Faction: Battlegrounds is an over-the-top dual stick shooter whose simple controls and graphics will remind you of some old school Vigilante 8 or Twisted Metal action with a little MechAssault added in. The dual stick controls are relatively easy to use. The right stick can drive your mech, tank or car of choice. Pointing the left stick in any direction will fire your weapon. Controls are about as simple as it gets and won't be hard to pick up even for the younger gamers out there.

Before revving up your engine or hunkering down in your tank, you'll notice that Red Faction: Battlegrounds gives you a number of options, such as a single-player, goal orientated mode, local multiplayer and online play. The single-player throws you into different types of situations that you’ll also see in online play. Your commander gives you certain goals to attain, and by achieving them, you unlock more and more levels. It's a good option to have before jumping onto Live and seeing what’s available, but in all honesty, it’s technically a drawn out and disguised tutorial.

To put it simply, the game offers an array of vehicles, from mechs to tanks to cars with weaponry attached to the trunk, each with different advantages/disadvantages to help you combat enemies. You can enjoy the destruction and havoc with up to four players in a variety of modes, including survival, deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill.

Each mode creates a different challenge to the player, but the basic premise is to survive as long as you can and take out others. Sure, you may occasionally capture a flag or be crowned king of the hill, but creating explosions and blowing up your opponents is the way to victory.

Of course, this is what we’ve been waiting for. You can’t pass up on an XBLA title that offers this much chaos for such a small price. Does that sound sarcastic?

Well, it is. Red Faction: Battlegrounds won’t appeal to even the most casual of gamers. First off, it’s a game that has been done time and again, and it doesn’t offer anything new to the player. Yes, it incorporates Red Faction: Armageddon and offers different power-ups that can be transferred over, which is a nice extra, but these incentives aren’t enough to make you forget about all the shenanigans this game tries to pull.

First off, your vehicle always has a mind of its own. The tanks and mechs are easy to control, but the vehicles will frustrate you more than trying to parallel park on a busy street while blindfolded. When maneuvering around turns, your vehicle always seems to overcompensate. The game lags a bit when it comes to pushing the button on your controller and seeing the action done on screen. This shortcoming, coupled with the already troubled car handling, makes for frustrating gameplay and possibly a broken heart after you miss your goal of capturing all the flags by five seconds.

The vehicles aren’t the only thing with a mind of their own. The camera is worse. Everybody, meet Red Faction: Battleground’s camera: judge, jury and executioner. It decides who lives and who dies. Why? The camera zooms in and out at random, leaving some enemies off the screen and camouflaged from you. We all know battling invisible enemies that have a clear and open shot is detrimental to your health and will lead to miserable and painful failure, whether you are playing the multiplayer or single-player mode.

These two problems alone will have you wishing you spent your 800 Microsoft points on something else. Red Faction: Battlegrounds does bring a little taste of the Red Faction world to the Xbox Live community, but unfortunately (and especially for true Red Faction fans), the title disappoints and is the farthest you can get from the good Red Faction formula.


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