+ True sandbox game, open ended with full freedom
+ Excellent physics engine
+ Very few scripted events
+ Very high fun factor
- Open-ended sandbox games require a player that are willing and able to figure things out, others may find the game too hard or confusing.
- Shallow characters and very simple/unengaging storyline.
- Activities and missions may get repetitive if you just "play to win". Besides destruction there isn't much else to do.
- I'd like to see an even wider range of weapons and upgrades.
- No coop-mode.
* * *
THIS IS NOT GTA!
Many reviewers call this game a "GTA on Mars", but in my opinion that is a label that does not fit.
The *only* thing Red Faction and GTA have in common is that they are both open-ended sandbox games. From there on, the differences are greater than the similarities.
The GTA games are far more complex in almost every aspect, with their storylines, mini-games/sidemissions, playground/environment and scripted events.
Red Faction on the other hand, is a simple, straight forward sandbox action game - and excels at that. It could be called "Mercenaries 2 on Mars", except that its much, much better than Merc2.
THE BEST SANDBOX SO FAR!
This is the most complete "sandbox" experience I've had. The gameplay is completely without artificial/scripted limitations. The storyline and missions form the basic framework to play within, the weaponry being your tools. From there on you are free to play the way you want to.
The main story takes you through all the areas of the map but there are no "locked zones". However the resistance is tougher the further you go, so following the storyline (and upgrading your skills and equipment along the way) as you explore the land becomes the natural thing to do.
It's the same kind of "natural flow" to the way you solve the missions. If you want to be a lone wolf and brute force through an enemy base, you are free to do so - it's doable but it's tough, as it should be. Or you may want to be more of a teamplayer and inspire the local population. The higher the fighting spirit is amongst the civilians in the area, the more people join and support you when you fight the enemy.
And this is one of this game strongest feature: The freedom of choosing your play style. There's no "one way" to solve the missions, no way you are "supposed" to do it, no scripted outcome. If your idea makes sense with your given tools it's probably a plausible solution.
The AI is pretty good with enemies seeking cover, trying different routes and generally is doing a fair job in giving you a hard time. No God-like abilities like seeing through walls and knowing where you are or see into the future and (scripted) have an army waiting at the very place you run for cover - no matter where you run.
THE BEST PHYSICS ENGINE SO FAR
The physics engine in itself is worth buying the game. Destruction has never felt so real, so logical and so FUN. And the larger the constructions, the more impressive the engine. To see a large building slowly start to crumble under its own weight never gets old. Especially if you were able to time the collapse and direction so that passing enemy units get crushed underneath.
If only this game had a coop feature. This game would be *perfect* for a storyline two-player coop...