Mars Has No Law Enforcement
Stories like Red Faction always manage to put me off of the idea of space travel and colonization. Set in the year 2070, you play as Parker, a miner on Mars for the Ultor Corporation. Being so far away from Earth, Mars apparently has no government oversight whatsoever, because its officers make a daily ritual of beating, oppressing, and killing random workers. The game begins as your shift ends, where a guard inadvertently sparks a rebellion by killing a fellow miner, and takes up arms against the Ultor Corp.
Red Faction is a first person shooter to heart, and the game revolves around running, gunning, and flipping switches or turning valves. Where Volition sets themselves apart is in the Geographical Modification engine, allowing you to use explosives to deform the terrain and get where you need to go. The engine sounds great on paper, but has few practical uses given your limited explosive ammunition. One weapon that stood out to me was the flamethrower, which offers the best alternate fire I've seen in a long time: If you right click with the flamethrower equipped, Parker removes the bottle of fuel and throws it like a grenade. Gives more use when your tank runs low, and before you reload.
The story is alright, I guess. I like the idea of humans excavating other planets and the very real concept that corporations would take advantage of the vast difference to create their own laws and exploit the workers. After all, who has jurisdiction over Mars? Is this conduct even technically illegal? The problem with the story in Red Faction is that it seems to be playing itself, and tolerating your presence. You aren't Gordon Freeman, you're Parker, the one-name grunt who reports in for duty and follows the lead actor until the very end where he is unceremoniously shot and just as quickly forgotten by the audience. Even in the boss battle against Dr. Capek, I couldn't get him to pay attention to me.
But Red Faction is a game of an older age (2001) when most shooters still had yet to evolve out of a system of "you guy, have gun, go shoot those people." It was a time when a simple miner or, say, theoretical physicist could pick up an assault rifle and be able to put a bead on a trained soldier's head from 40 yards. And we were okay with that for a full price game.
Red Faction isn't a requirement to play any of the sequels, but ten years later is still worth a play if you never had a chance back in the day.