I’ve played some franchises in the past that at some point they changed a major aspect of the game. A lot of franchises do this, from Super Mario (look at Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy) to Castlevania (“linear side-scrolling” to “free-roam the castle”) to even Mega Man (“side-scrolling choose your own stage” to “full-blow RPGs”). The thing is these franchises did well in that transition. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are two of the best games for the Nintendo Wii, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is hands down one of the top games in the franchise, and fans today are foaming at the mouth for Mega Man Legends 3 on the Nintendo 3DS. However, not all franchises can make that kind of drastic change and come out the other end okay, and today’s review takes a look at one of those franchises. With that said, let’s dive into Red Faction: Battlegrounds.
For those not familiar with the franchise, Red Faction was a first person shooter initially released by THQ back in 2001 for the PC and PS2. The game takes place on Mars in the 21st century where you play as Parker, a miner who helps lead a rebellion against Ultor Corporation. While I never played the original game, I did pick up Red Faction 2 several years ago as a bargain bin game and loved it. Red Faction: Guerrilla was released a couple years ago and Red Faction: Armageddon, which Red Faction: Battlegrounds ties into, is set to release later this year. Whereas the other games are first person shooters, Red Faction: Battlegrounds is a top-down game that more resembles a demolition derby than a Red Faction game.
When you first fire up the game you have three game options: Training Missions, Local Multiplayer, and Xbox Live Multiplayer. Let’s cover Training Missions first. These serve as training for the different types of vehicles (six in all). At first only one is available but as you complete one the next unlocks, and after completing a few you’ll have two unlocked at once (so you can skip a troublesome mission and go to the next if you wish). There are four different types of training missions: Speed Trial, Shooting Range, Survival, and Annihilate. Speed Trial has you collecting flags and delivering them somewhere else on the map. By “collecting and delivering” I mean “run over a marked spot to pick up the flag and run over another marked spot to deliver it”. It’s not that bad and basically serves to help you learn the vehicles controls and speed for the smaller vehicles. Shooting Range has you destroying purple exploding mines as fast as you can, which can also serve for learning how the vehicles work. Survival has you taking down enemies and just trying to stay alive as long as possible. The longer you survive the better medal you can achieve. Finally, Annihilate has you destroying multiple waves of enemies (typically fifteen) as fast as possible.
Depending on your final time for the missions you can get a bronze, silver, or gold medal. For Speed Trial, Shooting Range, and Annihilate you can get a bronze, silver, or gold medal depending on how fast you complete your objective while the medal you get for Survival depends on how long you can survive. I’m not sure if you must medal to unlock the next mission or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you do, as there’s really no penalty for dying in three of the mission types. Aside from medals you can also gain ranks for completing missions and doing well in them. I don’t remember if the ranks actually do anything other than something to show off online, but completing some of the missions will actually help make the vehicles a bit better for use.
Speaking of which there are a total of six different vehicles you can use, ranging from the small Miner ATV to the EDF Medium Tank to a Light Walker that reminds me of the AT-STs in Star Wars. Ironically I only recall one mission that uses the Light Walker, but I digress. Each vehicle has its own unique traits to it. The Miner ATV and Rover Flatbed don’t have the greatest firepower but have excellent maneuverability while the heavier EDF Medium Tank and EDF MLRS sacrifice speed for power. Controlling each vehicle is relatively easy once you get used to it. Using the Left Stick moves and turns the vehicle to an extent. If you want to reverse you use LT to back up, which is useful if under heavy fire as your back armor is weaker than your front armor. Using the Right Stick rotates your vehicle’s turret and can also fire the turret depending on the settings. You can have it set to either fire using the Right Stick or RT. Since the turret can overheat if used too much at one time, using RT can help save firepower, but I prefer using the Right Stick to fire as that’s one less thing to have to worry about pressing. If you are worried about your turret overheating though, not to worry. The icon below your tank will change colors the more you use your turret, but it tends to cool down quickly.
There are several different types of items you can pick up on each map, including weapons and power-ups. For the weapons you have remote mines that you can deploy and will explode when you detonate it, proximity mines that will explode when an enemy draws near, and bombs that when detonated will suck up any vehicle near it like a black hole and destroy it (including your vehicle if you’re too close). These are all deployed using RB and detonated using LB. You can also find a few power-ups on each map to help you out, including yellow lightning bolts to increase your speed, a blue shield to protect you from damage for a short amount of time, and a green wrench to repair a good amount of damage done to you.
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