Saturday, February 16, 2013

Workers Of The Outer Worlds, Unite!

The original Red Faction did not only break new ground and bring a number of innovations to the FPS genre - but it was also great fun to play. It was the first game, if I remember correctly, that incorporated damage to the environments that was not just for effect but played quite an important role in the story. Now, its sequels... well, succession in times of revolution is never easy.

Like any revolution, Red Faction (III): Guerrilla, strives to overcome but falls victim to harsh realities - and some bad decisions. But there are also a lot of sparks coming out from under this hammer.

First off, this game tries to be too many things at the same time. It has missions and you get to augment your weapons - but it is clearly not a cRPG. And you get to explore and shoot - but, even if you will find yourself in some hairy situations, the moments of adrenaline rush and intensity are rare. Early on the weapons get too powerful and the importance of explosions overtake the gameplay. Do not get me wrong, I love the smell of a singularity bomb in the morning as much as the next guy - but you can have too many explosions.
Oh, and how come one can blow up building and vehicles sky high but the surrounding rocks remain intact? And while I am poking plot holes: where is all the oxygen coming from since Mars seem as barren as a red desert?

Now, unless the hero were to wear armor we would love to see, why was there a need to go from an FPS to a Third-Person Shooter perspective? There have been TPS games that work great (the excellent Max Payne series spring to mind) but more often than not, the over the shoulder camera ruins the immersion - not to mention your aim.

Finally, there is the issue of graphics. I have an 2 years old system at home (i7 920, nVIDIA GTX480, 3GB of RAM, WinXP SP3), yet, even when all parameters were all maxed out, the graphics were not crisper than Half Life 2 (a 6 year old game). I understand that there are way more particles on the screen and the physics of their explosion would make the game unplayable in 2-3 year old systems but I expected more effort on that department.

On the other hand, driving is great fun! A-la GTA, you can hijack almost anything: from personal vehicles to huge utility tracks. And then there are walkers you can augment. And you can drive them almost over or through everything. The most sturdy of them will take quite a beating before dying on you so I really enjoyed walking or driving through walls and demolishing buildings. Who needs a map if you can plow a path straight towards your destination?!

Did I mention explosions? True, they are a bit excessive, yet there is no denying their fun factor! And what I found particularly impressive is how the choice and design of weapons stay within the story of miners revolting on Mars.

Another piece of good news: the game may not be DRM-free (it is protected by Impulse and WindowsLIVE online saves) but it has neither any malicious form of SecuROM nor does it require any type of activation.

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