Red Faction: Guerrilla

September 10, 2009

Rarely has a game that focuses so completely on a single design aspect been as much fun to play as Red Faction: Guerrilla. Volition takes the mayhem and destruction that is central to the Red Faction series and ratchets it up to a whole new level in Red faction: Guerrilla. The destruction is realistic, ever-present, and changes the game from just another open world action game into an extremely enjoyable venture into the world of a Martian revolutionary.

In Red Faction: Guerrilla, you play as Alec Mason, a new arrival to Mars with a grudge to settle. You start off with a short tutorial that ends with your brother Daniel Mason being killed by the Earth Defense Force, or EDF. Your brother was a member of Red Faction, a resistance group dedicated to freeing Mars from the tyrannical rule of the EDF. Now, because of your relation to him, you’ve been branded a terrorist as well. From this point, Red Faction becomes an open world sandbox of destruction. You can accept missions that will advance the game’s storyline, perform guerrilla actions, or simply drive around and destroy stuff to your heart’s content.

The storyline of Red Faction is somewhat bland and really doesn’t develop past the standard formula for this type of game, but the missions you’ll undertake to advance the game are varied and interesting. From setting ambushes for EDF forces to stealing large walkers to destroying communications towers, there’s plenty to destroy and plenty to enjoy in the missions. However, you won’t liberate Mars simply by going through the missions. Mars is divided into six sectors: Parker, Dust, Oasis, the Badlands, the Free Fire Zone, and Eos. You haven’t won until you’ve pushed the EDF out of all six zones. Each sector has its own set of gauges that track how much control EDF has over that sector and the morale of the people residing in them.

In order to liberate a sector you must lower EDF’s control to zero in addition to completing all the missions. Lowering their control can be done in a few ways: destroying key buildings, each of which will impact control by different amounts; killing lots of EDF troops; and performing the aforementioned guerrilla actions. Guerrilla actions can be one of eight different types ranging from rescuing hostages, to intercepting convoys, to destroying buildings as fast as you can. All of them are entertaining, although they will usually all devolve into a massive, death-laden firefight with EDF troops.

It isn’t a shock to find that destruction is the key to this game. You can destroy anything and everything in Red Faction: Guerrilla and it is every bit as satisfying as you would hope. Everything crumbles realistically, and thanks to your trusty sledgehammer, you can destroy everything by hand if you desire, no explosives needed. Of course, necessary or not, explosives are a blast and destroying buildings with them is even better. Since destruction is realistic, you do not have to destroy the entire base of a building to bring it down, merely the main supports for it. This can mean precision destruction, but it can also mean some surprising demolitions. I was taking down a three story building by driving a bulldozer through it, but it didn’t come down so I went inside to lay some explosives on the remaining support struts. While I was inside laying the explosives, it collapsed on top of me. I had, without realizing it, taken out every single important support for the building and then gone back in while it was in the process of falling in on itself. Needless to say, the roof did what the EDF couldn’t and killed me.

Beyond the single player game, Volition has included a robust and unique multiplayer experience. Red Faction: Guerrilla has six different multiplayer modes: Anarchy, Team Anarchy, Capture the Flag, Damage Control, Demolition, and Siege. Anarchy and Team Anarchy are the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, but with the twist you’d expect of Red Faction: Guerilla. Everything on the map can be destroyed and damaged- meaning camping is impossible, and sniping from heights does not mean you are safe. A new weapon called the Reconstruction Gun is included in the rest of the modes and, just as it sounds, it reconstructs damaged buildings. Damage Control pits two teams against each other in an attempt to control three towers. In order to control it, you must construct it, and the other team is attempting to do the same thing. This leads to a frenetic variation of king of the hill, where you construct one of the three towers, and attempt to defend it while the other team attempts to destroy it. Demolition is loosely similar to the VIP mode in Halo 3, as each team is assigned a Destructor-a role whose job is to destroy buildings. Your team gets points for damage done by your destructor, with more points awarded for bigger buildings, and by killing the other team’s destructor. Finally, Siege places one team in defense of a bunch of buildings while the other team attempts to demolish them. At the end of the round, the teams switch places and mayhem ensues again. The matches are lag free, and there is no problem finding people to play against in any mode. In all, the multiplayer modes are varied and take advantage of all the strengths of Red Faction: Guerrilla.

There is no soundtrack to speak of in Red Faction: Guerrilla, but that’s really more of a plus than a negative. Any kind of music would really detract from the atmosphere and feeling of being on Mars. The sound effects are top notch. Every weapon sounds powerful and accurate, especially the sledgehammer. Every swing of the sledgehammer sounds and feels authentic and satisfying. Graphically, everything looks impressive. The terrain and character models are detailed, the cutscenes look fantastic, and the color palette is authentic.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is an excellent game, but it does have its flaws. A few times, upon finishing a guerrilla action, my character froze in place and I had to load my most recent save in order to continue playing. Also, while the controls for vehicles are tight and responsive, the physics feel off when driving a vehicle as they turn over very easily.

While it does have its minor flaws, Red Faction: Guerrilla’s thrilling multiplayer and vast single player campaign are pure fun. Whether you are a fan of open world games or of destroying stuff, this is definitely a game you should get, as it is a highly enjoyable experience you’ll want to play over and over again.

Pros: Destruction, destruction, and more destruction; sledgehammer is the new wrench; multiplayer is unique and fun

Cons: Random, rare game freezes; vehicle physics feel off; storyline is lackluster and cookie cutter

Plays Like: The Mercenaries series

ESRB: Rated Mature for Blood, Violence, and Strong Language

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.