So after a ten-year life-span Volition’s Red Faction series has been cancelled and won’t continue in any meaningful way, so why is THQ right in cancelling the series?
The Red Faction series began way back in 2001 with Red Faction, not at all surprising right? When it was released it was praised for it’s technology and gameplay, managing to get ratings of around 80%. The PlayStation 2 version faired far better in reviews than it’s PC port, this was probably due to the higher standard of First-Person shooters on the PC. Then in 2002 Red Faction II was released for the PlayStation 2 and in 2003 for the Xbox, Gamecube and PC. The ratings (on Metacritic) range from anywhere from 64 to 84 depending on what platform you choose to read the review for.
Next came a big leap for the series, third-person free-roaming where every building was destructible. This came in the form of Red Faction: Guerilla for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in 2009. This version faired much better in the reviews than any previous Red Faction entry with the console versions gaining a score of 85 each on Metacritic and the PC version has a score of 82. It was praised for it’s destructible environments, long single-player mode and it’s number of multiplayer modes. However the game was incredible repetitive and had a very weak story.
When Red Faction: Armageddon was announced I hoped that it would be a fix for these problems, but as with the last game it had a bland story and although the gameplay wasn’t repetitive the environments were. Oddly enough the Metacritic score for Armageddon on PC is actually higher than that of it’s console versions. The game scored 75 on PC, 72 on Xbox 360 and 71 on PlayStation 3. So even with a linear style of gameplay the story was still quite bad.
So was THQ right in cancelling the series that made destructible environments popular? Well, as with everything in the games industry, yes and no. The sales of the games were depleting and obviously the publisher needs to make money out of each game they publish. In addition to this the developer, Volition, has Saints Row and the newly announced inSANE to concentrate on.
But each series does take a while to get into it’s stride, maybe Volition should concentrate on getting the gameplay of Red Faction perfect and not worry so much about the story or being serious, it seemed to work for Saints Row. When I played Guerilla most of my time was spent messing around blowing stuff up and not actually playing the storyline. The reviews, though not amazing, were steady at around 70/80 which is not bad for a decade long series. Sales were obviously THQ’s only problem and with good reason.
So weighing in all the evidence THQ was right to cancel Red Faction. Although an interesting point to make is that THQ said the series won’t continue in any meaningful way so the series may live on but in a different way than we are used to seeing it.