Proud to Be a Martian
As I recall the hype building up to the 2001 release of the original Red Faction, I am met with fond memories. Volition was flexing their might on a new franchise. From my perspective at the time, that could only lead to good things. Volition, a spin-off of staff from the lauded Descent series' Parallax software, seemed to take the top talent, while their twin Outrage, was ill-fated. Volitions tenure included the well received Summoner, and a game series that remains one of my all-time favorite to this very day: Freespace. Volition seemed capable of no wrong. After the unpaid royalty debacle with Interplay (which also affected the likes of RPG legend Bioware,) Volition fled to then-fledgling publisher THQ, and, sadly, was unable to continue work on its existing game series or build on its existing work. The intellectual properties belonged to Interplay, though now that Interplay is beginning a slow, painful resuscitation, some of us can hold on to the hope that not all is lost for these classic franchises. But in the mean-time, all hope lay with Volition's new franchise: Red Faction. With the hype of "GeoMod" flooding the gaming press, a level destruction engine for virtually any terrain in the game, we all braced for "the next big thing" to explode. When release date came, it sure exploded all right. In our faces.
GeoMod worked. And worked well at that. But it was of limited use in the campaign. You can read more on the legacy of Red Faction in our review of the original game, but the summarized version is that the game was fun, but not truly special. The story was generic, and loosely held together, the graphics were clearly designed around the PS2's limitations, even on the PC version, and ammo was all too scarce for the really fun weapons. It wasn't the new Volition IP that many of us had hoped for. The original game was not met without some commercial or long-term success however. While the campaign and graphics notably suffered, a very rich multiplayer culture developed around the title and is still popular even now. The GeoMod engine that failed to impress in the campaign, it turned out, became immensely useful in 3rd party mods.
Shortly after, there was Red Faction 2. It was almost an expansion pack more than it was a sequel, and in honesty it was a game that was forgettable at best. At worst, was a shame. Without fail, it didn't come close to living up to the Volition legacy. Nearly seven years later, the moment many have waited for, a true sequel to Red Faction has actually arrived. Volition, now an exclusively open-world studio, has thrown its hat in the ring again with a re-imagining of the Martian world years after the previous events. Mars, now a breathable atmosphere outside the tunnels is a vast dust bowl in which the Earth Defense Force that saved the day in the conclusion of the first installment has become a new brutal fascist oppression force. A new Red Faction has arisen to fight the menace, and, as you may have guessed GeoMod is back and dressed up for the occasion!
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