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Red Faction Guerrilla

Developer: Voilition | Publisher: THQ
Players: 1 to 16 Player Game | Release Date: 06/02/09 | Genre: Action

Most console gamers probably aren’t familiar with the Red Faction franchise that made its debut on the PC in 2001. But even those who played the original FPS game will find few similarities in Red Faction: Guerrilla, an open world action game by the same folks who brought us Saints Row 1 and 2. Like those titles, Guerrilla is further proof that the team at Volition can make some of the best open world games on the market.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is set on Mars 50 years after the events of the original game, where a paramilitary organization known as the EDF (Earth Defence Force) is horribly repressing the population of colonists. It’s a land ripe for revolution, and it’s up to recent Mars immigrant Alec Mason to...yada yada yada. I’ll stop short with the story because honestly it takes a back seat to the gameplay. There are a few cutscenes scattered throughout the campaign but Guerrilla’s plot is incredibly weak. The good thing is that players will hardly be aware of the story, thanks to some fantastic action and the best destruction mechanic I’ve seen since Mercenaries.

The landscape of Mars is divided into a number of sections that must be liberated one at a time by lowering EDF control and raising the population’s morale. This is accomplished by completing missions and, of course, blowing the living hell out of everything in sight. Most of the missions will involve property remodelling of the explosive persuasion, and it couldn’t be more fun. Players get equipped for the job with rocket launchers, remote mines, and the very sleek nano rifle that completely dissolves any object.

Since Guerrilla is an open world game, there’s a ton of freedom when it comes to completing objectives and destroying buildings. Mech suits or heavy vehicles can be commandeered to smash through structures, or you can get creative and attach remote mines to a moving truck before sending it hurdling towards a group of EDF soldiers. Even the hammer can be used to create a quick get-away by punching a hole through a wall, allowing the player to sneak to safety.

It’s impossible not to have fun when doing battle in this sandbox warzone, and watching tall buildings come realistically crashing down feels very rewarding. Rather than sending a set number of missiles into a building before it explodes like in other games, Guerrilla demands that each one be scientifically taken apart by blowing away the support structures.

Along with the main missions there are a number of side tasks that earn more support for the fighters of Mars and also net you salvage, which can then be used to purchase new weapons and upgrades. Players can take part in guerrilla raids on EDF bases, rescue supporters of the cause, and race a number of vehicles across the Mars landscape. There are also the demolition challenges. These add a puzzle element to the game, where the player is given a small selection of weaponry and a building to destroy in a limited amount of time.

One of my major requirements for open world games is how easy getting from place to place is, and thankfully Guerrilla handles this well. A waypoint system that creates a glowing path in real time is a nifty feature, and later a teleportation system is unlocked to make getting across the wide map pretty easy. It would have been nice if the vehicle types were a bit more varied, with most being industrial jeeps and trucks. The one problem with Guerrilla’s campaign is the difficulty progression. Now I’m not whining that the game gets too hard, but instead of coming up with creative challenges Guerrilla just gets more aggressive. It makes the same mistake a lot of open world games do by throwing more and more enemies at the player until things get quite chaotic. It doesn’t ruin the game, but I would have liked to see some more ingenuity in the later missions than simply ramping up the enemy count.

In the end Guerrilla’s campaign is still a very lengthy one, with the main missions taking several hours, and the side objectives adding more gameplay. To make Guerrilla even more well-rounded, there’s also a great multiplayer component that is a beast of its own. This is thanks to the fact that there are no vehicles in the multiplayer, which may seem like a bummer, but there is the addition of ten backpacks that each provide a different power- up.  They range from increased firepower to shockwave blasts that knock enemies off their feet. Plus, in each match the starting weapon and backpack is never the same, mixing up the gameplay a lot. One frantic setup I’d recommend is jet packs and rocket launchers.

Up to 16 players can compete across 15 maps, and like any good online shooter a party system is available. There are the standard game modes but many are built around Guerrilla’s destruction mechanic. One example is Siege, where teams must destroy the enemy’s structures whilst defending their own. The environmental destruction works just as well in the multiplayer. There’s nothing better than taking a rocket launcher and eradicating a tower that an enemy is camping on. Snipers beware!

Getting a planet like Mars to look beautiful is no easy task, and despite Volition’s efforts to make each area different, things can get a little bland. That isn’t so bad though since the constant explosions and vehicle crashes are all very smooth. I want to comment on the sound but it’s hard to name anything specific, which usually means it didn’t impress me. With the exception of the whacky insurgent Jenkins that you accompany on gunning missions- not many characters held my attention. If Red Faction: Guerrilla were a movie it would be a bad one due to its one-dimensional plot. However, this is a videogame we’re talking about, and in this regard the game delivers tremendously because it’s just so much fun to play.

Guerrilla is on the forefront of environmental destruction in videogames, and the beefy campaign and multiplayer modes make it a worthy purchase for any action fan. I think Volition knows what we all want in the next chapter of this resurrected franchise: more destruction. Sure I feel greedy asking for more, but Guerrilla has got me hooked.

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Real Life Reviews Red Faction: Guerrilla is rated M for mature. Its violence might be on the cartoonish side but there still is plenty of blood. EDF soldiers have the expected filthy sailor’s mouth, so be aware of that. Guerrilla is over the top, but still ruthless enough to make its +17 rating well-deserved.

By Mark Melnychuk - 08/12/09
ESRB Details: Blood, Strong Language, Violence
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Screenshots for Red Faction Guerrilla

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