Saturday, April 23, 2011

Red Faction Battlegrounds

Red Faction Battlegrounds is a mainly-multiplayer-focused dual-stick shooter in which you jump into a buggy, mech, armored vehicle or tank and move around an arena-type enclosed area. Depending on the given mission structure, your objective will be different from match to match. The offerings consist of Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. I really tried hard to like this game, but it seems like it’s not firing on all cylinders. And while I’m not the biggest Red Faction fan on the planet, even I can tell that the relation that this game has with its full-blown disc-based brethren is flimsy at best.

Beyond the multiplayer aspects, there are also a limited number of “training” courses, basically set up in order to give the player the ability to hone their skills somewhat before jumping online. Usually these training missions will have a specific goal, like simply surviving an endless onslaught of enemies, killing a certain number of baddies within a time limit, etc. The player then gets judged with a three medal rating (bronze, silver, gold) and that’s that. I could see some people REALLY wanting to get all golds for the training missions, but there’s not really much meat to that aspect.

he controls make sense, and anyone who has played a dual-stick shooter before will be able to jump right into the action. Included in the control scheme is a secondary-fire button (RB), which will deploy either a “suck you into a black hole” bomb or a couple different kinds of land mines. Movement of the vehicles differs too, which is a nice thing to see. At least the developers made sure you could pull a U-turn more quickly in a little dune buggy than a huge tank.

Graphically the game is pretty good - the models look nice, but you rarely get a chance to look at them even remotely up-close, since the camera is super-pulled back to ensure you can see all the action happening on the screen at the same time. The audio design is nothing to write home about, but it’s really nothing spectacular either.
Strategy isn’t the name of the game as far as multiplayer goes, even in non-deathmatch modes. A combination of the aforementioned pulled-back view of the screen, thus having a hard time getting a good handle on the action, plus the explosive containers riddled throughout the arena, make for kind of a cluster of activity. There is likely to be the most strategy employed for the King of the Hill mode, but even there the action can get confusing and frustrating.

All in all the game simply does not do much to impress me. It doesn’t stand out in the field of XBLA games that are vying for your hard-earned MS Points. It’s not a terribly-made game, there just not anything... exceptional to it. For the money you’d spend picking this title up you’d be better off picking up any of a number of other Arcade games which provide a unique and engaging experience.




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