Now all of this sounds fine and dandy on paper, but the big question is “how does the execution hold up”? For the most part it’s not too bad, but leaves a bit to be desired. With the smaller vehicles like the Miner ATV and Rover Flatbed you may find yourself wanting to turn a corner and almost slide past it (or with me, I did keep sliding past it) as there’s really no breaks per-se. You can use LT to slow down, but within moments you’ll be moving backwards which will throw off your timing on your turn. The heavier vehicles tend to fire in bursts and while the firepower is better than their smaller counterparts you’ll be a sitting duck if you get trapped in a corner against vehicles with faster turrets than yours. I tend to prefer the somewhat speedy vehicles which is nice for getting away from incoming fire, but it would have been much better if they used one of the face buttons (that get no use during the main game) as a brake to help take turns a bit easier.
There may be a total of sixteen missions but you’re basically playing the same four mission types over and over again with different maps and vehicles and a slight change in difficulty for Survival and Annihilate. There are leaderboards so you can see where you rank amongst your friends or complete strangers, which is nice, but once I completed a mission (typically with no less than a bronze medal) I really had no inkling to go through the mission again, and that leads into a major problem in my eyes. These sixteen training missions are the entire single-player experience with Red Faction: Battlegrounds. Since there’s no real penalty for dying on three of the mission types other than a time penalty, I really felt no sense of accomplishment once I completed a mission. I felt plenty of frustration during the Survival missions (the one mission type where dying does cost you big time) but the others really didn’t make me get up and say “YEAH, TAKE THAT MARTIAN SCUM”. I just proceeded on and within an hour I was practically done with single player. If the game had more missions and made them seem like actual missions and not just training for online battles, it would have been a lot better in my eyes, or at least have certain penalties for dying on the missions present.
With that said, let’s take a look at multiplayer. Like most other Xbox Live games you can play Red Faction: Battlegrounds either locally or online, each with up to four players total. There are five different game types to choose from: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and Flag Frenzy. If you’re familiar with games like Halo and Unreal Tournament, then four of these should be all too familiar to you. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch has you fighting your opponents to see who can destroy the others more, King of the Hill pits players against each other to keep control of a certain part of the map, and Capture the Flag as teams trying to get the other team’s flag and take it back to their own base…or part of the map in this case. Flag Frenzy is essentially Speed Trial from the training missions, as it has players collecting and dropping off flags, with the most drop-offs winning. Given the size of each map some game types can’t be played on most maps. The two Deathmatch types can be played on all nine maps, while King of the Hill and Capture the Flag can be played on two maps each, and Flag Frenzy has four maps that players can contend on. Each match can be customized in several ways, including turret speed, and length of the match itself. On top of that, each player can pick one of the six types of vehicles and when destroyed they can hit X before respawning and choose another vehicle.
So I went through all of the training missions, I got myself familiar with all six vehicles, and I’m ready to take the fight online. There’s just one problem though: there seems to be absolutely no one playing this game online. Games like Halo or Super Street Fighter IV can typically have players in the United States online at any given hour, but not here. Granted I did try this at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning so your experience may vary. However, provided you can find some games open to join you can filter your search by game type or map and if any games are available you can jump in and begin annihilating your opponents. Can’t find an open game or wish to game with Xbox Live friends? Simply create your own game, chose the game type, invite your friends, and off you go.
In conclusion, I’m kind of mixed here. I did somewhat enjoy what I played, but without finding anyone online to play with most of my experience was with the single player “missions”, which only lasted about an hour or so. My main frustration with the missions is that while you’re driving around and completing your objective, you might wind up shooting some obstacles, and some of these obstacles can be destroyed. Thing is, these obstacles can also explode, and if you’re anywhere near them when they do, you’re taking some damage. This is a pain in the rear on Survival where you absolutely do not want to die. A lot of my damage came from something exploding that’s one and a half vehicle lengths away from me. Unless you have some friends who want to play the game with you or luck out and find people playing online, there doesn’t seem like much to do outside of getting better times on the missions, which to me is a huge let down.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Red Faction: Battlegrounds resembles a demolition derby more than a Red Faction game. The sixteen missions are basically there to prepare you for playing online and don’t really give much of a sense of accomplishment when completed. I really wanted to give Xbox Live a try on this but I couldn’t find anyone else playing. I refreshed the game list multiple times but to no avail. With only sixteen training missions that take only an hour to complete and an Xbox Live multiplayer mode that I can’t find anyone online to play with, this game leaves a lot to be desired, even for a $10 game.
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