Red Faction: A Retrospective
Today was a sad day for gaming - THQ announced that they would finally be laying the long running Red Faction series to rest after poor sales with the latest release Red Faction: Armageddon. Let's take a look at a series that made the transition from a groundbreaking first-person shooter to a 3rd person combat title.
Red Faction (2001)
Red Faction was released on the PC, Mac and PS2 platforms to critical praise. This futuristic first-person shooter set players off on an adventure as Parker, a miner who leads a rebellion against the Ultor Corportation on Mars. Based upon popular science-fiction novels and movies, most notably Total Recall, the shooter was renowned for it's geo-mod technology. Geo-mod allowed users to completely destroy the environment, meaning there was always a second solution to a problem. Can't open a door? Why not make your own. For the time, Red Faction was a fantastic feat of gameplay and technology, and is still regarded as an innovate title amongst gamers today.
Red Faction 2 (2005)
Red Faction 2 was released a few years later on the PC, PS2, Xbox and GameCube with the same hard-hitting action that made the first title so great. It featured improved graphics, a deeper story and offline multiplayer with bots which would lead some publications to speak out against it, citing that online multiplayer really needed to be implemented. Other criticisms were that the campaign was a little short, but regardless it still offered a great experience. Players filled the shoes of Alias, a spec-ops soldier who was sent in to recover some important research. After all hell breaks loose Alias and his team are forced underground and they began fighting alongside the Red Faction. It was fast paced, it was action packed and it was a lot of fun.
Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009)
After four years of silence Red Faction: Guerrilla surfaced as a very different experience for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The game brought with it a new third-person perspective, along with open-world gameplay elements similar to tiles like Saints Row or Crackdown. Gamers filled the role of Alec Mason, a miner who assists the Red Faction in their quest to overthrow the oppressive Earth Defence Force. Guerrilla pushed the boundaries of the G-Mod technology to the max, allowing the player to obliterate every single structure with the help of vehicles, weapons or a trusty sledgehammer. It also introduced a deep and rewarding online component that was well received, a first for the series. However the critics were quick to pan out the weak story and repetitiveness of the missions, however the ultimate accolade was the depth and amount of destruction on offer.
Red Faction: Armageddon (2011)
What would be the final instalment of the Red Faction series was released just a few months ago for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and OnLive platforms. Red Faction: Armageddon carried over many of the gameplay mechanics from Guerrilla however provided a far more focused store and more interesting world. Dropping the competitive multiplayer elements in favour of "horde" type gameplay, the title offered players the chance to face off against aliens, along with devastating destructive force. It was met with mixed reviews from critics - some loved it and others simply hated it. Sales for the title were disappointing, and as a result the series has been cancelled.
What started out as a leading FPS made a rather successful transition to third-person territory before failing at the hands of low sales. One thing is for certain - Red Faction will be remembered for years to come for offering some of the best in-game destructive mechanics in the history of gaming,
By Stephen Heller