Red Faction (Sniper)
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Monkeystone Games
Publisher: THQ

For this title, Monkeystone decided to license the X-Forge 3d engine, created by Fathammer Ltd. The results remind me a great deal of running Unreal in software mode; Red Faction uses 3d models for everything, coronas, reasonably high resolution textures, and some simple fogging effects. The game's framerates do vary, but never drop below 15 or so fps, and the game is always playable. The game isn't much of an aesthetic showcase, but is a good illustration of the fact that the N-Gage is a technological generation past the GBA.

For the first time ever, we have a handheld that does full digital audio throughout each game for both music and sound effects. Red Faction takes full advantage of this, featuring clear voice samples and sound effects, as well as a high quality, digital sound track. In terms of production values, the music is catchy and atmospheric both, but some of the songs are too short and can get old. As well, the gun sounds and explosions are good, but are also typical of the genre.

The control scheme in Red Faction is outstanding, and allows you to corner and circle strafe, look up and down while navigating the maps, and accurately aim with the help of "crosshair locking" mechanism. The shortcomings? Bizarre engine quirks; when moving around a left corner, you can hit enemies without them even seeing you, but when moving around a right corner, the baddies have that same advantage. Also, the enemies do far too much damage and are too accurate; if you're caught in a room with an unexpected baddie, you probably will die. This is a gameplay balance issue that could have been easily remedied with the addition of difficulty levels.

The first time through, Red Faction is frustrating; I replayed one level 18 times consecutively before I beat it. Once you learn to take advantage of the peculiar "corner trick" mentioned above, and learn how to effectively use each weapon, the game is highly enjoyable. In addition, the game features a solid plot, a couple of levels with driveable vehicles, and deathmatch support via Bluetooth. If Red Faction had variable difficulty settings, I would rank it higher, as some gamers will probably get frustrated and quit before they get the hang of the gameplay.

Sniper's verdict: