RF Preview from PC Gamer

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NOTE: This preview was originally posted on or about 9 Apr 2001 on PC Gamer.

Volition are in the business of technical innovation. Their latest shooter, Red Faction, should present us gun-toting frag merchants with a world more realistic and exciting than virtually anything we've seen so far. Seems odd doesn't it, when you look at these screenshots? They don't immediately look any more graphically wondrous than anything powered by the Quake III engine. But that isn't the point. Volition are making a world where things react to your high-velocity projectiles in an outstandingly realistic way.

Your rocket launcher doesn't just blacken the surface it hits, it throws up a cloud of dust and debris, leaving a crater. Blast a wall, and you make yourself a quick entrance to a building, killing the soldier laying in wait on the other side. It's even possible to tunnel into a wall with explosives, providing yourself with a hiding place or breaking through to several new previously unavailable sections of the game.

A gas pipe in a corridor can only be punctured if you hit it at the right angle. If you merely scrape the pipe, the bullet ricochets off, leaving a trace of lead that tells you which way it came from. You can even riddle the pipe with holes if you so desire, filling the corridor with jets of steam. Effects such as wind are introduced too. If you throw a grenade, the air-current will catch it and blow it off course. Air movement is well illustrated by the, frankly stunning, dynamic particle effects, with lava and water free-flowing through the scenery, reacting to explosions or any other changes in the environment.

And there's more. This time we see glass that shatters realistically; it cracks and falls to the ground as it might in real-life. If you shoot through the top corner of a window, that's where it will shatter from. It'll be this realism which makes Red Faction stand out from the crowd. The little details that make you smile. Like the moment you realise that rockets fired into the sky don't disappear, but come raining back down with the utmost realism. All this technical excellence is going to make events in Red Faction take a course that other games simply haven't been able to manage. One scene sees you under fire from a fixed gun emplacement. You can't hide from it and it continues blasting away at your cover, making clever sniping or a foolhardy charge the only available options.

Vehicles make an entrance too. There's a Descent-inspired flying pod, an APC, a Total Recall-style mining machine, and even a submarine. Each vehicle is involved in its own fantastic set piece, and the graphical effects are accordingly gorgeous. Indeed, the implosion effect of the dying subs is so good, you'll be dragging people in off the street to share the moment with.

Volition are unlocking so much potential with this new engine. We just hope Red Faction will eventually be able to walk the walk that it so spectacularly talks.