Red Faction: Battlegrounds Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Apr 29, 2011

Red Faction goes retro with this top down racer/shooter. Heavily bent on multiplayer, the game features a tutorial-style single-player game, and several different game modes for four-way multiplayer.

The Pros
  • Looks good
  • Some fun game modes
  • Online and offline multiplayer support
The Cons
  • Exceedingly shallow gameplay
  • Overpriced
  • Multiplayer is convoluted and short-lived

Red Faction: Battlegrounds Review:

THQ is going full throttle in their hype machine for the next Red Faction game, with a SyFy Channel movie on the horizon and the downloadable Red Faction: Battlegrounds. This top-down racer/shooter is clearly rooted in classic isometric arcade racers, but the results are a seriously mixed bag. The game is conceptually sound for a downloadable distraction, but the execution is lacking.

Red Faction: Battlegrounds

Get Your Ass to Mars

Battlegrounds is a game that wears its multiplayer bent on its proverbial sleeve. The single-player game is actually just called training, and consists of 16 short levels across four different mission types. The speed trial is purely about hitting flags that appear on the map as quickly as possible. Survival mode tasks players with, unsurprisingly, surviving for as long as possible against endless waves of enemies. Annihilate is similar, but timed instead.

Finally, the shooting range game is a mix of racing and shooting, where you must race around the track to destroy land mines. The problem, particularly with the shooting-centric modes, is that the gameplay gets really repetitive, really fast. The survival and annihilate games suffer from this sense of boredom the most, though the action racing-based modes are fast-paced enough to be fairly entertaining.

Red Faction: Battlegrounds

Oddly, the multiplayer modes are confined to deathmatching, CTF, and King of the Hill. For a game so rooted in old school racing sensibilities, the lack of an actual multiplayer racing game just seems like a missed opportunity. The multiplayer matches are moderately entertaining, but have too many design flaws to really hold your attention for long. Deathmatches are a chaotic mess on the small maps. The CTF game suffers from a frustrating inability to hold onto the flag while under fire, and the king of the hill mode usually devolves into a clustered mess of vehicles all fighting over the same ground.

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Dual-Stick Mayhem

Controls are generally tight and responsive, but can be frustrating when you overshoot a turn, or have to radically change course. The right analog stick is used for aiming and firing. This too works well most of the time, but fine aiming is often a pain. This is especially the case when you barely miss a target and instead hit the huge explosives tanks that populate most of the levels.

Battlegrounds is a good looking game at least. The Martian landscapes are sharp and detailed, and there’s a fair amount of variety to the scenery. There are eight vehicles to choose from, ranging from mechanical walkers to buggies, armored cars, and tanks. The game supports 3D visuals on the PS3, but in a bizarre oversight the effect is always on—with no option yet to turn it off. 

Red Faction: Battlegrounds

Lost Ground

For $10, Red Faction: Battlegrounds feels overpriced for what it offers. The single-player game is moderately entertaining, but too short and repetitive. The multiplayer is just as limited, with some obvious game styles missing and serious flaws with the modes it does have. Battlegrounds isn’t awful, but it’s also not very good.