Red Faction: Guerrilla Review
Red Faction Guerrilla implements some amazing destruction to make an open world action game set on Mars pretty enjoyable.
Red Faction Guerrilla brings the war back to Mars only this time it takes on a much different form from its predecessors. This new version is an open world, high action, high speed third person shooter contrasting strongly to its prequels featuring corridor first person shooting. The story briefly involves Mars is being terraformed and this time the Earth Defense Force (EDF) are causing hassles to the friendly miners attempting to acquire resources. Enter your character, Alec Mason, who through the death of his brother becomes involved in the Red Faction resistance group and aids them in order to destroy the EDF.
Guerrilla features some vehicle combat and heavy ground assaults but it’s most recognised by its extreme destruction. In a similar vein to the Red Faction’s Geomod tech only this time the buildings, not the ground, is destroyed. All the buildings can be completely demolished and your very task throughout the game is usually to do just that, using vehicles, rockets, nanites and explosives and your trusty hammer. As the name implies your task is to harass the EDF and take out primary bases, propaganda and other crucial buildings in the regions of Mars. You will progress through these regions doing some side missions as the story unfolds and liberate the people of Mars from the oppressors.
Mars is much different in this iteration of Red Faction, the game is much more like Grand Theft Auto - just replace buildings with the Martian rock surface, remove the pedestrians and increase destruction a tenfold and you are getting the idea. Your character will start life on Mars with a basic weapon and some explosives, with these items you are told to take down some crucial targets in order to eliminate EDF in the region. The third person shooting elements work pretty well here, you can use some cover although I tended to just take on enemies without it, and your health will recharge. You will be given access to vehicles from safe houses and can fall back to these locations if the alert level is high because this brings the alert back to green instantly.
Aside from these main EDF locations additional guerrilla missions involve things like taking a vehicle to a safe house, rescuing trapped Red Faction members, performing mini-demolishing challenges or defending a location from attack. Performing these side missions will increase morale and will also net you a nice amount of scrap metal. This scrap metal is used as money and will allow you to purchase upgrades or additional weapons. You are only permitted to carry 4 items at any one time but can change them around at safe houses, ammo caches or just by picking up dropped weapons from enemies. There are quite a large variety of weapons too which all have their unique talents to either destruction or killing. The melee weapon you get to start with is a very powerful signature hammer; it can be used to demolish buildings and EDF enemies and later can be further upgraded. The big feature that set the originals above the pack was destruction and it returns with improvements.
Destruction is the key to the game; it relies quite heavily on it from start to finish. Walls will crumble away leaving structural steel members and finally once weakened sufficiently will creak and then fall to the ground leaving salvage to collect. It’s a satisfying addition to get into a base and cause some real observable damage. Unfortunately in very heavy action sequences when a building is falling apart the CPU will show some real strains, there are just so many objects and particles flying about that it doesn’t have time to think about them all when it’s doing some AI calculations as well. Most times the framerate is fairly good, smaller buildings, vehicles or objects won’t cause these kinds of slowdowns. There is quite a good ragdoll system to work alongside this destruction, characters knocked over via explosions or vehicles will get back up ready to fight, so these large explosions can be good at stunning the enemy forces. If you happen to be caught inside a building as it crumbles it’s not usually instant death, you will simply loose a bit of health and momentarily fall to the ground if you aren’t under attack your health will regenerate.
Most destruction missions will rely on you getting in, getting to the target, destroying it and then getting away. If you remain in the same position for too long reinforces will just overwhelm you until you die. Although it can be enjoyable to just sit back for a little bit and take out a few groups you will soon learn the hard way that you have to make a choice to get out of the danger zone or you won’t progress quickly. An annoyance with all this destruction is your player’s inability to get over some small pieces of debris during the escape, sometimes causing unnecessary death. Destruction plays a heavy role in the main story missions and many of the optional side quests.
Although the game centres on the destruction technology there is some variety to the side and campaign missions. Some of these missions will randomly happen and you can chose to accept them or go about your business. Convoy missions allow some ambush tactics, a series of transport vehicles will be headed for one destination along a known route, you can setup anywhere along that route and make your stand, wiping out the convoy or capturing a vehicle. Transport missions require getting a vehicle – often behind enemy lines and returning it safely in quick time to a safe house. Transporting missions will often place roadblocks or spawn in EDF vehicles to add to the chase. Shotgun missions are those where you sit at the back of a vehicle with rocket launcher in hand picking off moving and stationary targets to rack up a certain amount of damage.
It would be fair to say that there is very little about the game that isn’t destruction orientated. The mini-demolition missions were fairly good on their own too, taking down a building using a variety of limited resources or in a short time span. There isn’t a strong stealth element, although you can go around the back of bases and make your own entry through a wall you won’t be crawling around behind enemies. This is partly due to the AI knowing where you are in bases and the fact they just keep sending support. You have big guns, you have explosives and generally you want to use them. The great thing about many of these side missions is that if you die, or fail a timer you can instantly repeat them without needing to reload a save game or travel from a safe house to that location. You can even repeat them if you complete them successfully, wanting a better time of higher score, although incentive isn’t very high. The side missions often will reset the world, your current destruction will repair itself because it might be crucial for these side missions.
The game speed flows with the alert level, once it hits Red you will be constantly bombarded with EDF reinforcements. Of course if the morale in the region is high enough you get some Red Faction members to help you out and they will stop by the road – get out and fight. In some cases if you are in the middle of nowhere they will just appear out of thin air – same with EDF forces. Sadly your team is quite inept; they rarely do much damage, often get in the way and die quite quickly. Whether this was to demonstrate your strength level or was used so the NPCs weren’t doing much of the damage is unclear. When you are trying to blow up a building and they get stuck around the bombs it can be a little frustrating – you lose morale points if a friendly dies, more if you kill them. In many cases though they die quickly or you aren’t going to be hanging around long enough to be worried about them. In general they serve as a meat shield to take enemy bullets and cause additional distraction so the EDF isn’t just focused on you.
Later missions civilians can get in your way making sledgehammer takedowns damaging to morale. In the third zone, Badlands, Marauders will come and attack both you and the EDF as you engage in battle which can be quite funny the first time it happens. As mentioned the EDF on the roads will take chase, most cases it’s fairly short lived however in some chase missions the road action can get quite frantic and Mad Max like, watching vehicles fly into the air as you fire a rocket into them mid flight is satisfying. Some wheeled vehicles will have mounted guns, you can fire them but can’t aim them while driving which may reduce some of the fun. In combination with the alert level the game difficulty hits a fairly good sweet spot as long as you don’t rush for the story missions.