Red Faction: Battlegrounds

Abandon all hope, ye Red Faction fans and look away; far, far away.

By Daavpuke, Posted 15 Apr 2011

Red Faction once boasted some of the first destructible environments; a true pioneer move. Since then, a lot of games have adapted this feature and this franchise itself has evolved far beyond one gimmick. Thus, in the stream of the new Red Faction: Armageddon, THQ offers to tide players over with a spin-off called Red Faction: Battlegrounds.

Barely tying anything together, Battlegrounds is a twin stick, racing shooter that is presented in a form of an isometric playing field. In the gritty and very murky environments, ranging from dustbowls to dull metallic constructions, an assortment of armed vehicles compete against each other in races and fights to the death. There’s a selection available of light cars, tanks and walker robots, which each offer their respective amount of armor and versatility. Tanks are slow and powerful, while buggies are fast but very weak and so forth. In reality however, really only the one Combat Walker offers any stability balanced well enough to actually also shoot with, in case anything needs to die.

NoobFeed Review - Red Faction: Battlegrounds
'Red' Faction: Battlegrounds couldn't get any more red. Are you sure that's enough red?

This loss of all control stems from inaccurate to plain swerving controls, which sway all over the place. Frankly, the overall handling of both driving and shooting is a complete mess and this affects the game greatly, as it basically makes up the entire experience. Driving alone is as elegant as some major franchise’s ice skating vehicles, but having to also accurately shoot down enemies during this drunken swagger is incredibly aggravating.

Making matters worse, the signature destructive environments from Red Faction get in the way more than being a helpful way to decimate opponents, resulting in many needless suicides. There are even multiple possibilities of spawning right before or during a large environmental disaster, resulting in instant death. And that’s when players are aware of where the game will spawn the vehicle, because most the times, it will be anybody’s guess until it’s too late. And given the overlapping terrain objects such as cliffs and bridges hiding vehicles from sight, Battlegrounds can become quite the annoying, exploding, guessing game.

NoobFeed Review - Red Faction: Battlegrounds
King of the Hill is a very dull and haphazard mode in Red Faction: Battlegrounds.

And don’t expect a lot of training in the traditional sense, since this mainly online game focuses on this interacting mode only and offers only very strange and basic Training Missions. While there are a ton of these missions, only the first instance of a game mode will actually feel like a tutorial and the rest will feel as a mere repetition. Additionally, there aren’t a whole lot of tips and hints to be explained; there’s only a drive stick, a shoot stick, a button for deployable weapons and a good luck pad on the back. There are medals one can obtain to show off and an experience rating which upgrades abilities and cars and whatnot, but none have a significant effect on playing. Therefore, we must look to how this mess of things holds up against opponents. If everyone is in the same boat, at least the playing field is leveled, right?

Unfortunately, that statement is only half correct as the game ultimately fails to hold up in this mode. Joining, creating or playing in itself is challenging enough, but once in-game this game finally loses its final shred of dignity. Vehicles disappear from the screen, pop up and collide into environments, forcing them across the screen, inexplicably explode, games grant random players points and attributes that isn’t coming to them and in some instances overpower certain players for no reason. The experience system adds in the online mode as well, but nothing is worth spending time in this completely broken setting where nothing works as it should.

NoobFeed Review - Red Faction: Battlegrounds
Yup, more red and brown and red-brown; not even kidding. the right level is awful.

There is a load of modes and tweaks that are available though and if it happens to work with no issues, it can be quite thrilling and maybe even a little entertaining. But given the horrible handling issues, only very specific parameters will offer a good time, while any other random mode will become either extremely dull or completely overpowered. Still, there’s a nice variety of racing, team play, flag capturing and around mayhem on a handful of ugly maps, but not nearly enough to save this game from itself.

With only one slight aspect going for it and everything else being frustrating, there’s nothing for players to enjoy in Red Faction: Battlegrounds. Even looking past the fact that the franchise name has been slapped on a random tie-over with no affiliation; the game itself is plagued with so many issues and frustrating basic concepts, that it’s just not worth playing. While it can be fun, it really can, it takes a special kind of man, with incredible determination, to find even a kernel of goodness in this darkish mess. Playstation Plus subscribers can count their lucky stars that this game comes to them free, because anyone paying for this product will instantly be stricken with incredible buyer’s remorse. Abandon all hope, ye Red Faction fans and look away; far, far away.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): THQ
Developer(s): THQ Digital Warrington
Genres: Shooter
Themes: Action, Racing
Release Date: 2011-04-05

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