Ranking the Red Faction Series
Not too long ago, I finished my 13 month stint of playing through all of the Red Faction titles. However, not everyone has time to sift through 30 hours worth of my rambling, so I decided that I would do an official ranking.
For those who don’t know, basically the Red Faction franchise focusses on a group of underdogs taking on a bigger, more powerful foe. The first three are rebelling against the ones in power, whereas the last game… Well, I’ll get into that in a minute. It’s a series held in high regard due to its use of the GeoMod engine, which made environments destructible in ways unseen in games of the era, or at least the first two were.
Now, without further ado, here’s the list from worst to best:
4: Red Faction 2
By far the least enjoyable of the series, RF2 saw you as a super soldier fighting against the ruler of the country. What country? Who knows - who cares?! Shoot the soldiers!
Alias is a genetically enhanced super soldier who, along with his squad, must join up with the Red Faction to overthrow the dictatorship, “The Commonwealth”.
RF2 did have you rebelling, but it just didn’t have the same feel as the original, since they took their design cues from Halo but practically ignored the story. The destructible terrain amounted to the occasional wall in a building, as it took place on Earth rather than Mars. Really, the only similarities to the original game were the title and some vague nanotech story angle.
3: Red Faction Armageddon
The sequel which ended the franchise, RFA wasn’t very well received by fans, though it was technically enjoyable. There was no rebellion angle, which didn’t help things, and it was more based around the horde combat of Gears of War.
When Darius Mason fails to stop a terrorist’s plans, he has to take on the alien hordes as they seek to destroy all human life on Mars.
Since most of the game takes place underground, you would think that a return to the original game’s mechanic would be in order. However, the only things you can destroy are structures, which is boring when none of them are over two floors tall. There were some interesting new mechanics, but it was a definite step back.
2: Red Faction
The original GeoMod engine was used to great effect, as you sought to survive against the evil Ultor Corporation. It was a true rebellion, with the term “miner uprising” being used constantly, organised by the titular Red Faction.
Parker is a miner who came to Mars seeking a better life away from Earth. He joins the Red Faction when he finds that the Ultor Corporation abuses the workers and forces them to endure hazardous living conditions even while a plague spreads.
Although it is strictly level-based, it rarely feels like it’s forcing you from A to B to C, much like Half-Life manages. You’re not a soldier, or a one-man army, you’re just a guy who has the misfortune of watching everyone you meet die whilst tragically fighting for their freedom. It may not have been the definitive FPS experience, but the GeoMod was groundbreaking -- literally.
1: Red Faction Guerilla
True, it was almost a retreading of the original game’s plot, but the change to an open world (inspired by Saints Row) was a really welcome change from the two previous titles. The switch from first person to third person was unexpected, but made sense.
Alec Mason is a miner who moves to Mars just before his brother’s death at the hands of the Earth Defense Force (EDF), forcing him to join the Red Faction. Trying to meet Earth's high demand for resources, the EDF has forced Martian society into a permanent state of unfree labour, which the newly reformed Red Faction plans to rebel against.
With vehicles to drive, a giant hammer to smash things with, and even a jetpack, it’s pretty obvious why people felt that Armageddon didn’t meet expectations. True, unlike the previous two games the terrain wasn’t deformable, but every structure could be taken down in any number of ways. There were even challenges that sought to teach you new ways to take them down, albeit unconventional ones. Honestly, nothing can compare to Guerilla for variety, gameplay and personality.