E3 2002Red Faction II hands-on

We went hands-on with a playable version of the sequel to Volition's Red Faction.

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THQ was showing off the sequel to Volition's Red Faction this year, which features a few innovative twists over the original game. Red Faction II continues the story begun in the first game, taking place five years after the Martian revolution. As a member of a crack team of revolutionaries, you will have to traverse 15 different levels while making use of 15 different weapons, and if so inclined, can then take your skills to various types of multiplayer competition.

Red Faction II's emphasis is less on individual action, and more on being part of a team--which is reflected in the AI controlled squad members who will accompany Alias, your character, through the game's levels. More of a run and gun shooter than a tactical squad-based combat game, each squad member will perform actions based on their surroundings and the situation they're in. They will shoot at hostiles, watch your back as you open doors, and even hack into security consoles while you keep a lookout. The decision was made by Volition to keep your teammates immune to friendly fire, although this may not stay the case in the final version of the game.

Red Faction II continues making use of the geo-mod feature, which allows you to destroy parts of the game's geometrical environment with your weaponry. Rocket launchers can blow holes through walls, doors, and other such obstructions, with very few limits as to what can be blown apart. Finer versions of this geo-mod feature are laden throughout Red Faction II, which are used more for visual effect than as a gameplay tool. For example, the first level we played took place in an office lobby that bore more than a passing resemblance to the lobby from the famous shootout sequence in The Matrix. As enemies streamed out of the elevator doors and took up defensive positions behind the columns, stray bullet fire from your own weapons and those of your teammate spray into the obstacles, sending dust and chunks of marble and plaster flying in every direction. Shooting at the balcony on the floor above, from which enemies begin to take up positions, will also let sparks fly, and scatter particles of concrete. Combined with the more direct geo-mod capability, where you can blow away entire columns with a well-placed rocket, this opening scene served well to show off the residual effects of weapons fire.

This same level showed off the next new feature of Red Faction II; intelligent AI usage of the geo-mod feature. Once enemy guards and soldiers are pouring through the woodworks, a detonation is heard, and bits of the roof topple to the floor. Looking up, you can see that the AI controlled opposing forces blew a hole in the ceiling, and are zipping down on cables, spraying sub-machine gun fire. Enemies throughout the game will make use of modifiable terrain strategically, giving the game a more realistic feel, where the player doesn't have such a significant tactical advantage.

More subtle additions were also made to the original Red Faction game in this sequel. Much as in Halo, players can throw grenades using a shoulder button, rather than switching out the primary weapon. Aside from the 15 levels of the single-player game, players will be able to compete in up to four-player head to head multiplayer matches, including capture the flag and deathmatch. We'll keep an eye out for more from Red Faction II as it approaches its scheduled October release date.

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