Red Faction: A Retrospective Do game nights still exist?

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Today was a sad day for gaming – THQ announced that they would finally be laying the long running Red Faction series to rest after poor sales with the latest release Red Faction: Armageddon. Let’s take a look at a series that made the transition from a groundbreaking first-person shooter to a 3rd person combat title.

Red Faction (2001)

Red Faction was released on the PC, Mac and PS2 platforms to critical praise. This futuristic first-person shooter set players off on an adventure as Parker, a miner who leads a rebellion against the Ultor Corportation on Mars. Based upon popular science-fiction novels and movies, most notably Total Recall, the shooter was renowned for it’s geo-mod technology. Geo-mod allowed users to completely destroy the environment, meaning there was always a second solution to a problem. Can’t open a door? Why not make your own. For the time, Red Faction was a fantastic feat of gameplay and technology, and is still regarded as an innovate title amongst gamers today.

Red Faction 2 (2005)

Red Faction 2 was released a few years later on the PC, PS2, Xbox and GameCube with the same hard-hitting action that made the first title so great. It featured improved graphics, a deeper story and offline multiplayer with bots which would lead some publications to speak out against it, citing that online multiplayer really needed to be implemented. Other criticisms were that the campaign was a little short, but regardless it still offered a great experience. Players filled the shoes of Alias, a spec-ops soldier who was sent in to recover some important research. After all hell breaks loose Alias and his team are forced underground and they began fighting alongside the Red Faction. It was fast paced, it was action packed and it was a lot of fun.

Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009)

After four years of silence Red Faction: Guerrilla surfaced as a very different experience for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The game brought with it a new third-person perspective, along with open-world gameplay elements similar to tiles like Saints Row or Crackdown. Gamers filled the role of Alec Mason, a miner who assists the Red Faction in their quest to overthrow the oppressive Earth Defence Force. Guerrilla pushed the boundaries of the G-Mod technology to the max, allowing the player to obliterate every single structure with the help of vehicles, weapons or a trusty sledgehammer. It also introduced a deep and rewarding online component that was well received, a first for the series. However the critics were quick to pan out the weak story and repetitiveness of the missions, however the ultimate accolade was the depth and amount of destruction on offer.

Red Faction: Armageddon (2011)

What would be the final instalment of the Red Faction series was released just a few months ago for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and OnLive platforms. Red Faction: Armageddon carried over many of the gameplay mechanics from Guerrilla however provided a far more focused store and more interesting world. Dropping the competitive multiplayer elements in favour of “horde” type gameplay, the title offered players the chance to face off against aliens, along with devastating destructive force. It was met with mixed reviews from critics – some loved it and others simply hated it. Sales for the title were disappointing, and as a result the series has been cancelled.

What started out as a leading FPS made a rather successful transition to third-person territory before failing at the hands of low sales. One thing is for certain – Red Faction will be remembered for years to come for offering some of the best in-game destructive mechanics in the history of gaming,

Do kids, in particular, still invite their mates over to play games?

Back when I was a youngling, before the inevitable rebellious streak and freedom only afforded by the combination of a driver’s license and death-trap of a car, we used to have game nights.

Be it two, three or four, we used to have a grand old time hanging out on a Saturday night with the intention of playing as many games as possible, while consuming copious amounts of soft drink and Doritos, as to make sleep impossible.

That was necessarily, too, as you didn’t want to let down the team by caving and falling asleep too early. Chores awaited on a boring Sunday afternoon when you were sent home, so this precious gaming time had to be cherished. For a while there my Mum even banned games during the week – as if I had heaps of homework in year 8 – but surprisingly relaxed this rule moving further into high school.

The games night was the equivalent of whatever girls did during sleepovers (read: slumber party) – which, as concluded in early high school, definitely must have been underwear tickle fights – with far less sleeping and more raging.

The general consensus in the forums is that split-screen is dead. Not only is it included in fewer games, but even when it’s there, hardly anyone seems to use it on a regular basis.

I suppose the modern equivalent is LANs, but these require a great deal of organisation and are more for older teenagers and adults. Most of my valued gaming memories came between the ages of 10 and 16. There’s no way I would have been attending anything even remotely like a LAN during those early years. Small-scale console LANs in a bedroom, if you want to call them that, are perhaps more reasonable, but it’s still an ordeal to take your console and TV to a mate’s house – especially if Mum’s in a hurry.

What happened to the days of bringing a controller and perhaps a game? When playing on the same TV was the norm?

Having your own setup is cool, but split-screen racing and FPS games are an entirely different ball game when you’re playing on the same screen. Nothing replicates the experience of being flanked by an ally and enemy on the same couch.

Then there are games like Super Smash Bros., which thrive with offline multiplayer that is designed for a single screen set-up. Brawl may have begun the transition to online, but it’s not even comparable to everyone huddling around a retro TV set.

The ability to play games online against your mates from the comfort of your own home is a wonderful thing. As is the ability to take your kit to a mate’s house and play next to them with your own private set-up.

However, it’s not the same as the split-screen game nights that were a massive part of my gaming childhood. Perhaps kids still do it, but from what I gather, it’s a dying art, and one gaming will sorely miss.

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