Red Faction: Battlegrounds
Price: 800 MS Points
Red Faction: Battlegrounds is a top-down, vehicle-based shoot 'em up, in a demolition derby setting. The title was released purely as a tie-in for the upcoming Red Faction: Armageddon, and for good reason, because this game is nothing more than a rushed mess to make a quick buck by THQ. The game is centred around multi-player action, although the game does feature 'training missions' to get the general feel for the gameplay. There is also a ranking system that, unfortunately, rewards those who play more than others, thus dampening the online experience. Quantity > quality is often an unfair system, I find.
Battlegrounds is chock-full of generic rock tracks that just try too hard to be hardcore than it actually is. On the plus side, the general feel of the game isn't that bad. The controls are highly responsive, albeit difficult to properly master, and the twin-stick shooting mechanic, again, proves to be a winner. The graphics are above-par, as you would expect for 800MB worth of game, but this is just a fine example of the superfluity of polished visuals when gameplay just isn't living up to expectations.
The flaws with Battlegrounds is a long list, and would probably be more time-efficient to list what it did right. Firstly, the range game modes are uninventive and narrow. You'll have plenty of fun with stock modes such as 'survival' and 'race'. It's not like they haven't been done before. While Battlegrounds do offer a generous array of unlockable vehicles and weapon upgrades, they are far too repetitive and tedious. The powerups that can be collected during a regular match are just too confusing. You have to press X to activate Y while holding down Z, etc... What I'm getting at is that you get the general idea of the game in the first half hour of playing it.
The Final Verdict
With no hint of story, and only 'training missions' to work with, it is highly recommended that you purchase this title with the full intent of either bringing your game online, or have some friends handy. Battlegrounds just tries too hard to be a testosterone-fuelled experience, which may seem a bit harsh to criticise it about, but it only adds to the disappointment of the whole experience. How many times have you seen a top-down shooter with massive explosions with bad rock music? Too. Many. Times. If Battlegrounds is anything to go by, then Armageddon might have a very suggestive irony to it.
By Dermot Di Cocco
We say: STAY AWAY