Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: December 2, 2002
Some time has passed since the original uprising that placed players in the role of Parker, a miner turned rebel and figurehead of the corporation-busting Red Faction. Fast forward to the sequel and we see that the series’ hook is still there in full force: GeoMod coding for the walls and floors that allows you to deform the landscape with your weapons. Knowing full well that we can dig our way out if we get lost, let’s head back into the mines and see what’s become of the Faction in the past year.
Ironically, the battle has moved home to Earth this time around, and we see the forces of the Red Faction up against the Chancellor of the Earth’s Commonwealth, Victor Sopot. Rather than focusing on Ultor, the ruthless mega-corporation from the first game, the sequel focuses on one of their developments, nanotechnology. Stolen from Ultor and ferried to Earth, Sopot uses the technology to forge an army of smarter, stronger, enhanced soldiers, a good 70 percent of whom undergo some sort of personality shift after modification.
Pulling a Victor Frankenstein, Sopot suddenly becomes afraid of his master creations, realizing that they may be simply too powerful to control. His other elite squads, who seriously outnumber the enhanced soldiers, begin a sweep that nearly wipes out the Nano-augmented warriors. Only a few are left, and they’ve joined with the Red Faction to fight back against Sopot. The game truly gets under way with this premise, as you launch your final assault on Sopot while he’s broadcasting the equivalent of a state of the union address.
True to its roots, Red Faction 2 barely pauses for breath, and you’ll spend very little time hunting keys or worrying about access codes. Instead, you’ll be attacked by waves of enemies, and treated to in-game events similar to the triggered events in Half-Life. You’ll get the chance to work with other team members on occasion, or to take part in supporting Faction forces during large-scale attacks. There are even a few vehicle levels designed to let you simply act as gunner rather than having to fill both roles as you would have in the previous title, although some of the pilotable vehicles – like the mini sub – make a return as well.
As noted above, also returning from the previous game is the GeoMod system. For those who missed the first rebellion, the principle is simple: larger weapons will do damage to the environment by blowing chunks out of it. This means that hiding behind a wall may stop one incoming missile, but chances are that the explosion will destroy a large portion of your cover. This adds a new tactical dimension as well, since you can affect things the same way. If a turret is mounted on a wall, blasting the brick above it will most likely dislodge it, saving ammo over shooting back at its armored shell. Similarly, there are many areas where you can collapse platforms that harbor snipers or simply blow through a wall to get at secrets or other rooms.