For all those who adored Red Faction: Guerrilla's destructive gameplay and simply can’t wait for its sequel to arrive, THQ has just the thing: Red Faction: Battlegrounds, a vehicle-based combat game that offers the series trademark destruction in a bite-size, affordable package.
Battlegrounds is designed for fast and easy gameplay. Depending on the type of game you choose – there are both single and multiplayer modes – a match can be completed in just a few minutes, allowing players to get in, have fun, and then try something different. Of course, in this context “different” means new ways of blowing stuff up, As long as you have a powerful lust for explosions, Battlegrounds has more than enough volatile substances to hold your attention: from rockets, to mines, to my personal favourite, singularity bombs. Eight unique vehicles allow players to unleash their explosive powers. Mechs, tanks, ATVs, and walkers are just a few of the choices, and all are satisfying to control.
However, while Battlegrounds distils the fundamental appeal of Red Faction down to a pure form, in doing so it loses the sense that your actions are tied to the events of the series. Story is very much in the background; usually a good thing in a downloadable game, but here the experience would be improved by a little more context. In some ways Battlegrounds reminded me of Halo Wars: both games are set in the same universe as their namesake, but otherwise they don't have much in common.
Battlegrounds has a few other minor issues: the maps lack variety and are somewhat monochromatic, so they soon all start to look the same; the camera also occasionally pans out during multiplayer matches, making vehicles hard to see and control; the menus are also too busy and cluttered. These are small annoyances, but they are distracting nonetheless.
Oddly enough, gamers who are still unfamiliar with the series may get more enjoyment from Battlegrounds than Red Faction fans. The wide range of gameplay types and the single-player training missions are sure to keep gamers busy for a long time. Red Faction vets, however, will stop playing Battlegrounds on the day Armageddon is released.