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Publisher: GraphSim Entertainment    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 130 MB    Hard Disk: 1200 MB    24x CD-ROM    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit

Red Faction
December 18, 2001 | Chris Barylick

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Iíve wasted my life, or at least a significant portion of it. All this time that Iíve spent studying English, getting into grad school and collecting seasonal canned goods for the orphans, I was really meant to be a revolutionary miner rising up against an evil corporation on a distant planet. Under the bed tends to be a good place to hide from your own internal shame, even if the delivery people kind of throw the pizza at you, wait for your claw-like hand to snag it, grab the money and run as you munch happily on your grease-laden feast.

Red Faction has arrived for the Mac just in time for the holidays and it might just be one of the coolest titles to occupy a rather large stocking this Christmas. Developed by Volition and produced for the Mac by GraphSim, the game arrives about a year after its initial release for the PS2 and several months after the successful PC conversion.

The game follows the exploits of a young miner by the name of Parker who decides to spend a year in the Ultor mines only to find that the treatment of his fellow miners can only be described as brutal. The miners are cramped eight to a room, made to work 10-hour shifts in horrific environmental suits and beaten regularly. Add a mysterious virus that seems to be killing off miners left and right and things have become intolerable. A resistance movement led by a mysterious figure named Eos has formed, but nothing seems to have come of it, even though fellow miners are muttering their support. As the game opens, a guard has shot a miner who resisted a beating, leaving you to grab whatever weapons you can come across as you try to escape the Ultor minesÖ

Walk, Then Run
And so begins one of the better first-person shooter games Iíve had a chance to play in quite a while. Red Faction is set in an entirely first-person perspective and uses the typical mouse and keyboard control combination. The mouse moves the camera around while the keyboard moves the character, everything being as customizable as one might expect.

Red Faction both is and isnít your typical first-person shooter, depending on your perspective. Yes, the typical operating theme of running around shooting bad guys and solving small puzzles remains the same, but Volition has thrown in some clever touches. Red Faction is the first video game to use whatís called the Geo Mod engine, a game engine that allows for almost all of the gameís terrain (especially its floors and walls) to be destroyed to a certain extent.

Fire a rocket into a wall and you have yourself an instant homemade door. Place a remote charge or two on the ground and you can make a nice little crater to take cover from enemy fire. Activate a drilling vehicle and charge a platform to grind it to pieces. Everything is destructible; something that makes for some very cool changes to what might otherwise be a standard first-person shooter.

Volition has used this to its advantage. While the game generally centers around the same kind of puzzles you might find in first-person shooters like Quake, Unreal or Sin where the player has to find the right switch to open a door or locate an obscure exit to a room, the Geo Mod engine allows for some interesting twists such as the need to blow through layers of walls and floor to reach your goal. The overall effect of this new engine even applies to puzzles where the solution isnít to blow everything to hell, but to think of a three-dimensional environment in terms of layers. Ok, youíre trapped in a dead-end, but whatís up with that grate youíre standing on and can it be lifted to access a new area? The environments and the way you approach them become less static.

Run, Then Get a Driverís License
A first-person shooter rarely stands on its own without a few cool tricks, something Red Faction has in spades. The game includes an impressive array of vehicles your character can capture and use throughout the game, if only for relatively short segments of the overall adventure.

The first vehicle players will run across is the basic driller, an ungainly slug of a machine with no additional weapons to its basic drill. This is discovered within the first 10 minutes of the game and picks up the pace a little. Simply climb in, pick a direction and proceed to drill everything in your path to bits, including guards, obstacles and the surrounding scenery.

The All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is the next land vehicle and works as a basic jeep with a heavy machine gun mounted on the back. One person drives, the other serves as the gunner, although Iím not sure if this is used in multiplayer mode a la Halo or Tribes 2 where several people split the duties involved. The basic drive function is fairly straight forward, the player climbing behind the wheel, squashing anything in their path, taking damage only when an enemy unit is able to shoot beyond the windshield and hit the driver directly. Players can also drive to locations with several guards, hop in the back and switch over to the heavy machine gun, which mows down everything and leads to nothing less than cathartic glee.

The submarine is pretty basic but extremely fun, providing access to underwater locations where the water pressure would crush the player to death (nice touch). As expected, this bad boy comes with a cool torpedo heat-seeking system that blows surrounding fish, enemy units and scenery to tiny little bits and is pretty maneuverable in the long run.

The Aesir Fighter is probably the most fun of all the vehicles offered within the game. Equipped with both heat-seeking missiles and a bad-ass chain gun, players can use its incredible agility to pick targets off from any angle or position (to say nothing of its firepower, which allowed me to mow down snipers and their guard towers with a few well-placed missiles.)

Last but not least is the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), which, while not quite as fast as the ATV, allows players to squash the unwary like warmed-over gummy bears. The firepower of the APC makes it one of the gameís more fun vehicles, players being able to use both a mortar cannon and a heavy chain gun to their own ends.


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