Red Faction: Battlegrounds Review

Red Faction: Battlegrounds

THQ has released Red Faction: Battlegrounds as a tie-in game for the upcoming Red Faction: Armageddon. This top-down, dual-stick shooter features vehicular combat, plenty of explosions, and online multiplayer. All of that sounds great for a downloadable title, but ultimately the game fails to execute on quite a few levels. A lack of meaningful content, repetitive combat, and troublesome controls are just a few of the issues that end up plaguing Red Faction: Battlegrounds.

Like most dual-stick shooters, Red Faction: Battlegrounds comes off as an easy game to pick up and play. Controls are simple, power-ups such as proximity mines are easy to grasp, and spotting enemies isn’t a problem. On the negative side, the controls aren’t always the most effective. Shooting with the analog stick can often feel noticeably slow, and movement also feels rather clunky at times.

It’s a shame that those mechanics have to be carried over into such a multiplayer-centric title. The only single-player play comes in the form of 16 training missions across four different categories: annihilate, shooting range, speed trial, and survival. Most people will start off playing those missions, which unfortunately leave a disappointing first impression. Anyone should be able to finish them all in 30 or 40 minutes, leveling up as a reward, but just a few short moments with these repetitive missions will have you wanting to move on to the multiplayer.

Red Faction: Battlegrounds

Things do pick up a bit once you start facing other human opponents. Both online and local multiplayer are included, in addition to the option of bringing your local friends online with you, which is always welcome. There are lots of options to toggle, such as the time limit and power-up frequency. Playing against others also earns player experience points that unlock new vehicles and stat bonuses. Once you actually start playing against someone, the early moments of a match can be fun. Then you realize that things can get chaotic — a little too chaotic. It almost seems like the game doesn’t reward skill. Instead it’s all about being in the right place at the right time, which doesn’t make for compelling competition. In the end, the multiplayer also ends up feeling repetitive.

It doesn’t help that the content included is quite limited. There are only five multiplayer modes — deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, flag frenzy, and king of the hill — all of which are rudimentary game types you’d find in any modern-day multiplayer game, and none of them stand out. This lack of content even extends to the environments you’ll battle in, as each map feels almost exactly the same as the last. Another problem is that they are very small maps, so the camera has a tough time of keeping everything on screen at once.

Things aren’t quite as bad in terms of the audio and visuals. The sound effects are decent, the music is fitting, and the game looks solid for a downloadable title, especially considering the large amount of activity that occurs during a match. On the other hand, there are plenty of other, more vissually impressive downloadable games out there, so don’t go in expecting anything particularly noteworthy.

At the end of the day it’s hard to understand why THQ decided to release this game. It seems obvious that this is a cash-in leading up to the release of Red Faction: Armageddon, but even if that’s the case, a lot more effort could have been put into making Red Faction: Battlegrounds a better game. The framework for a solid dual-stick shooter is there, but the severe lack of single-player content and repetitive gameplay really hold it back. This isn’t an outright bad game, but considering its $10 price tag, there are plenty of better ways to spend your money.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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