Retro Respawn – Red Faction

As games like Tekken 8 loom on the horizon, I find my resolve to not blow a bunch of money on a PS5 when I should be saving it for things like energy, mortgage and food, etc. waning more and more. One thing that has kept me from shelling out the money and sticking with my PS4 is Sony’s excellent PlayStation Plus Premium subscription service, which not only includes the ability to download PS4 games as part of its fee, but it also allows you to play games from the PS1, PS2 and PS3 back catalogues as well. I can safely say that I will never have enough time to play all of these games, so at the moment it’s tiding me over just fine, with Red Faction being the most recent game that I’ve given the old playtest.

Developed by Voliton and published by THQ in 2001, Red Faction received a reasonable amount of hype from the PS2 magazines of the day, although its sequel won far more plaudits. Red Faction is a first-person shooter that sees you playing as a space miner called Parker who, along with his fellow miners, gets thoroughly sick of his treatment at the hands of the Ultor Corporation and decides to get a bit shooty and explody about it as consequence. Ultor not only sends the miners into dangerous parts of the planet Mars to do their bidding, but they also regularly have the guards brutalise the miners and also seem to have developed some kind of plague that is ravaging the workforce. At points I had to stop myself and ponder if this was just a science fiction plot or rather the living fantasy of a conservative MP from the 1980s.

The opening level of the game sees Parker witness a brutal murder of a fellow miner at the hands of a security guard, which leads to all heck breaking loose as he has to then try and escape the mines and meet up with his fellow rebelling miners. Often though, you’ll end up showing up far too late in order to do any good, finding a slew of dead miners whilst guards attack you with an increasingly nasty array of weaponry, ranging from futuristic cattle prods all the way up to assault rifles and mounted machine guns. Thankfully, you rarely need to worry about running out of ammo in combat, or at least I didn’t because I played Red Faction on easy mode like the cowardly chump I am. I still died a few times, but that was often due to fall damage as Red Faction insists on including first-person platforming sections, which are usually a disaster in any first-person shooter that isn’t called Titanfall 2.

One of the big selling points for Red Faction was the “GeoMod” tech found within, which would allow you to destroy some of the scenery. It’s mostly saved for particular sections of the game, such as when you find a locked door in a cavern and you have to blow up the surrounding rock around it so that you get to the other side. It can trip you up in firefights sometimes though, especially if guards or their robot colleagues do something like blast a hole in a walkway that you’re using. The GeoMod thing is a tad bit gimmicky, but for 2001, it works surprisingly well, and I believe it was built on a bit more for the sequel. You can certainly sense that it’s the beginning of a potentially good idea, and I certainly didn’t feel like it detracted from the experience, although I wouldn’t have worked out the door scenario myself if my radio buddy hadn’t suggested it to me.

Red Faction runs very smoothly on the PS4, with load times moving along swiftly enough, and the ability to save at any time being much appreciated considering that the game doesn’t have any real “levels” as such. I can’t say how it compares to playing the game on original hardware, although I think I did own either Red Faction or its sequel back in the day. Clearly, Red Faction didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time after I purchased it from a bargain bin, but going back to play it now, I enjoyed it well enough. I did eventually get stuck on a stealth level I couldn’t do, which is on par for me, but that was very much a “me” problem and not the game’s fault.

In some ways, Red Faction is actually quite an ambitious game for its time, with it not just being a shoot-a-thon but also a game that requires you to problem solve and even pilot some vehicles. For a game that essentially came free with a subscription service I’m already paying for, Red Faction was a perfectly digestible diversion for the time I spent on it. I wouldn’t class it as a classic game that you HAVE to play, but with a physical copy looking to set you back somewhere between £5-8 and it being easily accessible if you want to play it digitally, it’s something you may enjoy and a decent attempt from Voliton at an early sixth gen game. Just don’t linger when you’re piloting your submarine, or you may end up being freaky Martian fish food!

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