June 10, 2001
Red Faction - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price

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Ahh... the soothing sight of red blood.
Although it didn't quite make it out in time for the Playstation 2 launch in Australia as earlier anticipated, Volition's Summoner was a solid, if slightly flawed, Role Playing Game. Fortunately, it is by no means Volition's best looking title. Their second Playstation 2 game, Red Faction, is so impressive that many believe that it will take over Half Life as the king of the First Person Shooters. Only time will tell if this turns out to be true, but early impressions are extremely positive with video footage steadily improving every month.

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Blowing up levels will be impressive.
Volition, the developers of Red Faction, were actually the creative minds behind the award-winning FreeSpace and Freespace 2 on PC several of years ago, but this is a totally different style game. This is a first person shooter that not only allows you to kill the enemies, but also destroy the walls and surrounding objects within the levels. Red Faction is comprised of 20 different levels and includes 15 different weapons including the standard pistol, shotgun, rail gun, rocket launcher and explosives among others. Unlike almost every other game the game world isn't rock solid, but totally destructible just like real life (all thanks to Volition's GeoMod technology - more on that later). Throw a grenade and windows and walls will shatter, fire a lone bullet from a pistol and you will only leave a small hole. It's never been attempted before, but if it succeeds it will usher in a new generation of FPS games.

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Red Faction includes many vehicles.
The storyline is fairly straightforward but interesting nonetheless. The player assumes the role of Parker, a worker toiling in mines run by the Ultor Corporation far beneath the surface of Mars. The miners are suffering from inhuman living conditions and a strange, deadly disease called the Plague that is suddenly sweeping through their ranks. The miners' anger and resentment are ready to boil over, and Parker provides the spark that starts a rebellion against Ultor. Your goal is to stay alive long enough to bring down Ultor and solve the mystery of the Plague. This journey takes him from gritty subterranean mines to Ultor's pristine science and nanotech labs to the surface of Mars and even onto satellites orbiting high above the planet.

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Infra-red will add a new dimension.
Graphically Red Faction is already highly advanced. Using Volition's Geo-Mod technology the entire game world is destructible. Volition have spent a lot of time developing this technology. A handgun will only put a bullet hole in the wall while the rocket launcher will destroy it, often leading to new paths and hidden areas. While early reports were that early builds of the game had some slowdown, apparently that has been completely removed in the final builds. The characters are also extremely detailed which adds to the realistic look of the game.

While the PC version of Red Faction will include support for up to 32 players through a LAN the Playstation 2 version will only support a 2 player split screen mode. Online gameplay has also been ruled out unfortunately, but this game is definitely targeted at a single player experience. If the single player mode is anywhere near as good as Half Life we are in for something special, and my money is on Volition to take the FPS to the next level.

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Carnage has never looked this good.
Red Faction also includes some impressive features to enhance the gameplay. The game includes an advanced physics simulation for the falling geometry, as well as particle and liquid simulation. Volition has used real-time skeletal deformation and interpolation for silky smooth animations. Other neat touches include the ability to use an enemy's gun turret if you kill the person manning it, and the ability to drive five different vehicles such as an APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) and use the onboard weapons to cause more destruction.

After seeing this game in action it's no wonder THQ decided to buy out Volition. Will Red Faction be better then Half Life or Unreal Tournament? That remains to be seen, but Volition are certainly heading in the right direction to better those titles. With a release date of June 22 here in Australia there is plenty of time to polish this game nicely. Fortunately, Volition aren't on tight deadlines to complete the game as they were with Summoner and the result should be worth it. There can be no denying that this will be one of the hottest titles available this year. Incoming!