I really like Red Faction, but it’s kind of an acquired taste. Some people will love it immediately, while others will never reach the end due either to a lack of patience or frustration over the game’s many eccentricities.
It really does have many of its own weird little issues. The most obvious and annoying problem with the game has to do with the constant and unrealistic enemy strafing that makes actually hitting anyone a serious pain, especially since you there’s an element of randomness to where bullets actually hit. You can easily find yourself wasting an entire clip just trying to bring down a single enemy because they started frantically strafing side to side the moment they saw you. They have no momentum, either, so it can be far too difficult to gauge exactly where they’ll be standing when you fire off a few rounds.
The variance in where bullets hit is also quite annoying; it’s possible to line up a perfect headshot with the silenced pistol and miss for no reason other than a natural randomness in where the bullets land. Of course, this makes shooting seem a bit more realistic, but the whole thing becomes a bit much when combined with the constant strafing.
All that being said, this is a far better shooter than the Soldier of Fortune games. In those games, it’s possible to die while standing behind a solid object because the game forgets that bullets don’t magically go through steel boxes. Red Faction is far fairer and more balanced than most older shooters in this respect, because deaths usually end up being your own fault. There are some weird instances of deaths that make absolutely no sense, mind you, but these are rare and usually hilarious, such as when my character was randomly killed by a potted plant:
Red Faction uses a Geo-Mod engine that allows you to destroy the terrain with explosives. This is required less frequently than you’d expect given how many explosives you get (hint: it’s a lot), but it’s always fun to use them to circumvent a locked door:
You have quite the arsenal by the end of the game. In fact, it seems like all of the best stuff in the game is toward the end; to call the beginning of the game uninspired is really to understate the obvious, because Mars is a very boring place. All the rooms look very same-ish toward the beginning, and it’s not until later that you actually end up in interesting areas with interesting weapons. That’s not to say that the later parts of the game are flawless, however—one of the weapons you gain late in the game is so annoyingly overpowered that the enemies who have them can one-shot you even when you’re at full health. Quite a few enemies have them later on, which makes constant saving more or less necessary.
Keeping that in mind, it’s fairly obvious that Red Faction was designed to be a quick save/quick load kind of game where you save every room and redo small chunks of the game whenever you waste a ton of ammo or accidentally walk into a barrage of gunfire. Constant, borderline-obsessive saving is not only recommended, but actually a requirement for enjoying the game.
Okay, all of that probably sounds pretty harsh, but the game is actually pretty fun once you get used to it. It may not be anything particularly special, but it’s still a lot of fun, especially for an older shooter. There are vehicle sections that occasionally help to keep things feeling fresh, and there’s even a stealth section that actually works (no psychic guards!). For all its flaws, it’s one of those games that sticks with you if you stick with it all the way to the end.
Red Faction’s graphics are relatively average, though they’re actually surprisingly memorable; I found that I remembered many of the areas and weapon models by heart even after several years. The animations can be awkward, especially in the case of facial animations, but the models themselves are decent enough. Once you’re past the beginning, you’ll find all kinds of white, purple, blue, and orange lights that lend a certain prettiness to the game, even if its graphics aren’t anywhere near impressive by modern standards.
The music ranges from “meh” atmospheric stuff that you won’t really notice to “whoa, this is actually really cool” electronic stuff. The latter isn’t the kind of thing that gets stuck in your head, but it’s interesting and vaguely 80’s-sounding. Definitely the kind of thing you might save and close the game to search for on youtube:
Here’s what you should do: