Humans are, by and large, emotionally messy beings, which is possibly why we like clean endings. Whether it's the end of a book, movie, relationship, game or TV series, we crave closure. This is why many of us at Pocket Gamer towers were so phenomenally frustrated when the first series of Lost came to such an unsatisfying end. After devoting so many hours of our lives to following the survivors' adventures, we wanted answers; instead, we got more questions. Grrrrr!
We've a similar problem with Red Faction II, a futuristic action-adventure game that places you in the grimy boots of a miner who's trying to escape from an exploitative evil corporation.
The exact nature of this evilness is rather glossed over as you're flung headlong into the opening level. Indeed the precise motivations for most of your actions remain a little hazy throughout despite the radio briefings of a mysterious woman who seems to be co-ordinating the miner's efforts (sort of a space-age Arthur Scargill then).
What is clear however is that you have to roam about some sizable environments, collecting keys, unlocking doors and shooting every battle droid or security guard that stands in your way (yes apparently pistols are standard issue to disgruntled miners in the far-flung future) before you can progress to the next level.
Simple puzzles crop up every now and again, often of the moving-platform, search for the key, which-way-is-out variety, and these serve to both break up the mindless shooting and introduce a welcome element of variety.
Add to this a good range of weaponry (including a natty rail gun that fires depleted uranium shells) and some sharp presentation and everything seems to be ticking along rather nicely for the first half hour or so.
Sadly that's where it ends. No, literally. Unless you're of a similarly simple unquestioning mind as our dear hero you'll have completed the entire challenge on easy or normal level within a couple of average bus journeys and 'hard' won't add much more replay time. Even for a mobile game costing under a fiver that's poor value.
What makes it worse however is that the story, what little there is of it, is then wrapped up in the most frustrating manner possible: you get a couple of lines of text about how, after you've gone to all the trouble of making your escape, your spaceship explodes, putting an end to your character's "nightmare" of a life. No reason is given; it's 'kabloom' and good night.
Quite frankly we'd have preferred the discovery of an underground lair or another tribe of disgruntled miners on the same planet. As it stands it's a cheap and lazy ending and we've no qualms about revealing it here, because you shouldn't really be buying this. Yes, there's fun to be had, but there's simply not enough of it, especially compared to the other shooters competing for your cash (The Chaos Engine springs immediately to mind). We'd recommend tying up your loose ends elsewhere as Red Faction simply isn't the game you want to be stuck with in a traffic jam (or on a desert island).