Developed by Volition and published by THQ for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, Red Faction showed off a gameplay feature that was foreign to many gamers. Red Faction was famous for its realistic structures and walls taking damage. Explosions caused massive holes in the walls and pillars to fall to pieces. It was a huge deal back then but now has become commonplace in video games. Did Red Faction offer anything else besides new gameplay?
First off, our protagonist sounds stupid. Parker has traveled to Mars in hopes of starting a new life after being lured away from Earth by the promises of a mega-corporation called Ultor who controls the mines on Mars. That sounds like that last thing I’d ever do if I wanted to start a new life. No way would I leave Earth to dig holes on a foreign planet. Sounds dangerous and miserable.
Well, that’s actually what it is! The condition of the mines suck, the miners are hounded by guards who continue to abuse them, and the pay is terrible. A disease starts to work its way through the miners causing them to grow violently sick and die, coupled with the abuse of the miners from the guards an uprising occurs with Parker caught in the middle of it. Oh, you’re probably wondering what year it is. It’s 2075. There, now back to the plot.
Parker joins the rebellion and starts fighting his way out of the mines against the guards. He receives communications from Hendrix, an Ultor technician who wants to help the miners and Eos, a female that started the rebellion. For the majority of the game, Parker is by himself as he goes through Ultor offices, disables Ultor weapons and systems, and is a one-man fighting machine. Parker confronts Dr. Capek, an evil scientist who knows how to cure the mysterious disease that is killing the miners. Dr. Capek is killed and Parker continues on the run.
He soon meets up with Hendrix who is killed by mercenaries led by the mercenary leader, a woman named Masaka. Parker works his way through the mercenary base and kills Masaka before reuniting with Eos who has the cure for the plague. Parker quickly disables a massive bomb and the pair are rescued by Earth Defense Forces who received their messages for help. With the miners now in safe hands, Parker and Eos’ busy day is done. Roll credits.
As I mentioned in the preview, Red Faction is famous for environmental damage in the game, especially the walls and buildings. At the beginning of the game, you are taught that you can attach explosives to walls and blow holes through them to reach the other side or find secrets. It was neat to see this and the first half of the game you’ll be blasting your way through walls. Is there a door locked? Don’t worry, plant an explosive on the wall next to the door and blow a hole around it to advance. I did this a few times including entering a locked guard shack to find some nice weapons and health.
Speaking of health, you’ll have both armor and medical supplies to refuel your health bar. The game is generous at first with these but the further you go, especially in the mercenary base the fewer supplies you’ll find. I ended the game with only nine percent of my health left and zero armor. There weren’t many boss fights in the game, I counted three but they each were difficult for various reasons. The first boss you had to lure into a giant incinerator pit which was a cool strategy.
The voice acting was pretty solid in this game and there were even good jokes in the game which can be hard to pull off. For instance, Parker misses a shuttle in the beginning and Hendrix is ripping him for being too slow. The shuttle gets blasted a few seconds later and Hendrix says “Well, maybe being slow isn’t a bad thing”, it’s not what he said but how he said it that makes it funny. There were a few other conversations like that.
Something I hated was the loading bars. There are no levels in this game so when you cross a certain section in the game the game pauses for a few seconds and loads. It happens probably once every ten minutes and it can be very annoying. You’ll be in a random room and once you cross the halfway point of the room it will pause and load. It was weird and at first, I thought the game was freezing but soon realized that’s just part of the game.
You’ll fight your way through the guards and mercenaries with a variety of weapons. Anything from pistols, submachines, shotguns, railguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, and grenades will help you along your way. I used almost everything as most guns were very useful. You’ll need to master the weapons because the end of the game is pretty difficult. The mercenary base I thought I’d never get through. You can save the game whenever you want so I had to save every few seconds to beat the base. Masaka was difficult because I had such low health at the end but after about ten attempts I beat her. It helped my frustration that I could load the game only a few seconds before I started fighting her.
If you are under the age of 25 in the year 2020, chances are you won’t remember these but back in the 90s and early 2000s large stores like Walmart, Toys R Us, and in Michigan, our big grocery store chain Meijer had video game consoles hooked up to televisions to play demos on in the game department. There’s probably some still around in stores like GameStop but I remember my dad would drop me off in the game department while he’d shop around and come back a half-hour later and pick me up. I didn’t mind and I loved trying out the new games.
One particular trip to Meijer had me playing Red Faction. I thought it was pretty cool how I blew holes in walls or saw chunks of pillars drop onto the ground. Later, I remember seeing a lot of hype about this game either in a magazine or on commercials. I never played the game until this review but I’m glad I did.
Red Faction probably has a cult following and I can see why. It’s a good shooter that has some length to it and a decent amount of difficulty. The breakable environments and walls add to the fun and the characters and plot aren’t half bad. Red Faction spawned a few sequels but I’m not sure they are as good as the original.
Red Faction scores an 8.4 out of 10.
Do you remember when Red Faction first came out? Did the physics of the walls exploding blow you away? Did you have a favorite weapon? Was there a section of the game where you were stuck? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Red Faction, you can purchase a used copy of it for PlayStation 2 from eBay for around $10.