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Red Faction 2 Preview (PS2)
game: Red Faction 2
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: THQ
developer: Volition
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu Jun 6th, 2002
last revision: 04:38 PM Thu Nov 3rd, 2005

It is the twenty-second century, five years after the miner rebellion on Mars. Another planet is in need of your help. This time it\'s Earth. For fifteen years a tyrannical despot named Victor Sopot has corrupted the Commonwealth with lies, and torn it asunder with war. The time has come to free the impoverished people from his reign of terror.

Welcome again to the bleak, oppressive, future landscape of Red Faction. The first title, released about this time last year, was the first story-driven FPS on the tournament/frag-fest laden PS2, and it was welcomed by fans with open arms. It also introduced gamers to a little thing called Geo-Mod, a game engine that allows real-time destruction of the game environment. With Red Faction 2, THQ and Volition are giving us exactly what we want from a sequel. Keeping the tone of the first game, they have taken the story, Geo-Mod engine, gameplay and graphics to the next level, while addressing various complaints fans had last time around.

Along with the changes of venue and villain comes an interesting change in lead character, or should I say characters. This time, rather than leaping into the shoes of a comically outmatched everyman-turned-revolutionary hero, you belong to a squad of six elite super-soldiers. Your character, Alias, is an expert in demolitions-trained in combat, enhanced by nano-technology. Improved AI allows the other members of your squad to function independently alongside of you, and each character\'s unique skills will aid in completing your missions. Squad-based gameplay is nothing new-we see it all the time in RPG\'s, third-person action titles, and Star Wars shooters. It is rarely used in console FPS games, however, and it is a welcome addition to an already innovative franchise.

The game, as presented at E3 2002, was a little over 30% complete, so not all of the Geo-Mod capabilities were intact. However, even at this early stage in development, two improvements were obvious. First, it has been better integrated into the action of the game. In Red Faction, Geo-Mod mostly allowed you to tunnel around in cave walls, bypass some doors and the like. Occasionally, you would use it to take out a bridge, and there were moments where you would use it on the fly, blowing through a wall to make an escape, or dropping a stalactite onto an unsuspecting foe, but these times were few and far between. This is not the case in Red Faction 2. One level we were able to play involves a firefight in an office filled with cubicles. The problem, other than the guys shooting at you, is that the main hallway is guarded by a turret. The best way to engage the enemies, and make your way around the turret is to blow your way through the cubicle walls one by one. Once you reach the turret, you can simply sneak around behind it and turn it off. Second, and this is really cool, the enemies are now able to use Geo-Mod to their advantage, too. No longer will your enemy merely be the victim of your unique ability to deform your surroundings. They will be using it against you as well.

Like its predecessor, Red Faction 2 will feature several different vehicles, including a tank, a hover jet, and submarine. As you would expect, several new weapons have been added. Some of the coolest include dual pistols and machine guns that can be fired independently using both the R1 and L1 triggers. Grenades and bombs can also be used in tandem with other weapons, making it possible to fire a machine gun while holding and throwing a grenade, which is a pretty formidable combination, especially when you throw Geo-Mod into the mix.

The graphics in Red Faction 2 have improved tremendously, and those of the first game were pretty darn good. In general, all of the detail and articulation are back and better than ever. Specifically, there are some lighting, weather, and special effects that are breathtaking. A portion of the playable demo at E3 took you outside into a rainstorm. The rain falls in different directions and changes with the wind. Those who have played Metal Gear Solid 2 know what I am talking about when I say something as simple as rain can make a huge difference. Also, the lighting effects on the muzzle flashes and explosions are more dynamic.

The developers have not shied away from addressing key complaints from fans of the last game, either. For one, Red Faction 2 will support a keyboard and mouse for those who can\'t do without. Most importantly, however, the multiplayer mode has been vastly improved. Geo-Mod adds to the multiplayer experience tremendously, but it soon became apparent that it alone could not carry the game. The 2-player limit, along with a small selection of characters, bots, and almost no customization made the first title\'s multiplayer wear out fast. The multiplayer mode in Red Faction 2 supports up to 4 players with the multitap, includes a bot creator, and promises more customizable game play. It is still undecided if there will be games other than deathmatch, but what was available to play at E3 worked very well.

Talking to the developers, they assured me that the story retains a lot of the humor, little nods, and in-jokes that added so much to the previous game. Things like the constant ridicule of your character from co-conspirators for being so oblivious gave a self-referential wink to the necessity for games to point out your objectives. And the last piece of advice from Eos when Parker asks her what he is supposed to do now that it\'s all over: \"you\'re a hero now...go home, find a job, get a girlfriend.\" It\'s as if she was speaking directly to pasty faced gamers everywhere.

Red Faction 2 is certainly one of the most anticipated games coming to the PS2 in 2002. The THQ booth at E3 was one of my first stops specifically to see this game. As a fan, I must say that it is shaping up quite well. THQ and Volition are taking their time, making it right, and showing love to the fans.

You\'ll get your chance to take down tyranny in Red Faction 2, coming to the PS2 in Winter 2002.