Red Faction 2 Review

Sequels often pale in comparison to the original, but sometimes they match or surpass the original as in The Godfather 2 and The Empire Strikes Back.  This is the case with Red Faction.  Red Faction was a pretty good shooter.  Red Faction 2 is a very good shooter.  Great graphics, strong AI, and excellent level design make Red Faction 2 a must-have for shooter fans.

Red Faction 2 moves the action from Mars back down to Earth.  The oppressive dictator Sopot has used nanotechnology to turn his elite soldiers into super-soldiers.  However, he soon began to have misgivings and came to fear his creations, ordering them to be hunted down and killed.  Six of these warriors survived the traitorous purge and are now allied with the rebel Red Faction.  Their objective is simple; the elimination of Sopot and the liberation of the people under his rule.

Eat lead!

You take on the role of one of the six, demolitions expert and all-around hero Alias.  Each of the other five members of your squad has their own specialty and include a stealthy hacker, a vehicle jockey, a heavy weapons expert, a sniper, and the team leader who is a jack of all trades.  These squad members will sometimes fight by your side, and at others go about other tasks offscreen.  Even when they're not around, they'll keep in touch by radio communication so you'll feel like you are just a part of a larger operation instead of a solo warrior taking on the world. 

In many games AI teammates are at the best cannon fodder and far too often a major liability.  Not so in Red Faction 2; when the other warriors are with you they are actually helpful.  They can find their way through rooms and corridors without getting lost, and expertly help you fend off enemies.

The AI for the enemies in the game is just as strong.  They use cover effectively and coordinate their attacks from multiple directions.  Later in the game you'll face enemies enhanced with nanotechnology that prefer a more head-on attack, but this seems to be more the character of these fearless warriors than due to flawed AI.  If there is a knock against the game's enemies it is that they are hard to kill.  They seem to be able to take a lot more damage than you can take yourself.  The only sure way to take them out quickly is to blow them up with a heavy weapon or grenade.

The people appearing in the game also exhibit almost human qualities through their speech.  At one point in the game an enemy soldier screamed at me, "you just killed my cousin!"  At another point, you will pass through a television center where an excited but nervous reporter will report your actions over a live broadcast.  Incidents like these are a really nice touch that go a long way towards making the game a more immersive experience.

So why not just blow away the reporter and the other civilians who cower in fear and beg for their lives as you pass?  Because if you do it will have a negative effect on your Hero Meter.  The Hero Meter is a measure of how well you play the game.  Complete hidden objectives and your Hero Meter increases.  Kill civilians and it will have a negative impact on your Hero Meter.  At the end of the game the Hero Meter is used to determine which ending you get to see.