Red Faction II - PS2 - Review
The first Red Faction was a revolutionary game that implemented Geo-Mod technology (which allowed you to manipulate the game environment in real-time) into an action Sci-Fi setting. The result was one of the best FPS titles to hit the PS2. Now, about a year and half later, the folks at Volition and THQ kick out Red Faction II, the action packed sequel to last year’s hit. The game is set within the same universe as the first Red Faction (although not on Mars), but features a brand new list of characters and a plethora of new weapons. All in all, Red Faction II is a terrific action game that improves and expands on its predecessor.
The story of Red Faction II is typical of what you would find in a B movie from the 80’s. It takes place in the 22nd century on Earth. You are Alias, a member of an elite group of soldiers who have been altered with nano-technology to be stronger and more efficient killers. However, shortly after your enhancements, the evil dictator who ordered them also orders your execution. Then your persecuted group teams up with the revolutionary Red Faction and embarks on a mission to assassinate the dictator. The game is filled with anti-Red Faction propaganda, almost to the level of the film Starship Troopers, which adds a great deal to the feel of the game.
While Red Faction II’s story may not be terribly engaging or original, the gameplay will surely make you forget the inadequacy of the storyline. The game boasts a great deal more action than the original, as the action never stops from the first level until the very end. The game makes great use of vehicles as well, as you’ll be the gunner for both a tank and an airship. At one point, you even get to use Battle Armor, which is essentially like piloting a mech.
The game uses the Geo-Mod engine much more effectively than the original Red Faction. Its a bit more necessary to the progression of the game, and it’s use is evenly spread throughout the game. Also, not only will you have to blast through walls to proceed, your enemies will also blast through the walls in order to get to you.
The game’s weapons are a mix of the old and the new. The game features several “nano-tech” enhanced weapons, like a grenade launcher that can seek out your target, as well as a bevy of assault rifles, sniper rifles and submachine guns. A really cool part is how the control scheme utilizes paired weapons. The R1 and L1 buttons are used for primary and secondary fire, respectively. However, when you have guns akimbo, R1 controls the weapon in your right hand and L1 controls the weapon in your left. This helps when you’re in a big firefight and you have no time to reload; you can just fire off one gun and use the other one while the first gun is reloading.
Red Faction II’s graphics are a lot more polished than the original. While the frame rate is still not quite optimal, the character models and lighting effects are great. The animations are also a great deal more intricate than in Red Faction. They react realistically to your actions and move realistically. Also, the environments change with explosions, dents and dings a great deal more credibly then the original.
The soundtrack consists of the same kind of generic techno that you would find in a movie of similar subject matter. The gun sounds are pretty nice sounding and the enemy banter is pretty cool. However, after the forth time of “We were in juvenile detention together!” it does get a little old.
Red Faction II takes the best aspects of the original and amplifies them to make a terrific action game. The games' intense blend of flexible environments and blistering action make for a very entertaining experience. Any PS2 owning FPS fan needs to pick up a copy of this game ASAP.
Reviewer’s Scoring Details
From beginning to end, there is never a dull moment in Red Faction II. The game sports intense FPS action, great use of vehicles, and the Geo-Mod engine is put to even better use than the original.
The game’s graphics have been significantly improved from the first Red Faction’s. The character models have a much more realistic look to them, and the environments are generally impressive. However, some spots in the backgrounds are kind of muddy, and the frame rate isn’t quite what we’d want it to be.
The techno soundtrack is pretty average and much of the phrases said by enemies can get grating after a while. However, the gun and explosion sounds are nice, and the inclusion of Lance Henriksen (Bishop from Aliens) in the voice cast is definitely a plus.
The story is nothing that hasn’t been done before, and the game doesn’t feature any new concepts. However, it’s all great stuff and the game is engaging regardless.
The game boasts several four-player multiplayer modes, which are great. However, some online play would’ve been real nice.
Although not terribly original or revolutionary, Red Faction II is a terrific game with lots of action. With interesting levels, good graphics, and nice use of the Geo-Mod engine, Red Faction II is certainly one of the best titles of the year.