Red Faction Guerrilla
AMD Radeon HD 3850
Red Faction Guerrilla is a game that almost nobody thought would be made. A full six years after Red Faction 2 almost ran the franchise completely into the ground, it faced heavy fire right from the outset - especially after the announcement that it was switching to a third person perspective. But Volition persevered and stuck to their guns. Did it work? Or is this a dead franchise that should stay dead? Let’s find out.
Fifty years have passed since the mining revolt and Parker has been well nigh deified. The people even going so far as to name one of the sectors after him. The bastion of the still fighting Red Faction, and the last pillar of resistance against the new threat. The Earth Defense Force. Initially heralded as the liberators and peace bringers, the people of Mars soon realised the ugly truth. Ultor was despotic. But the EDF is a brutal dictatorship.
Into this theatre of oppression steps a new hero. Coming to Mars to join his brother, Alec Mason rapidly finds himself caught up in the ongoing struggle for freedom. All he really wanted was to make a little money then fade into obscurity. Fate, however, has other plans. His brother dying almost immediately after his arrival, leaves his only chance, to follow in his footsteps andfight for the Red Faction himself.
The price of freedom.
As with previous games, there is an undertone of social commentary. But where the first was direct and the second was overpowering, this game is much more subtle. Dropping much of the symbolism in favour of a more understated examination of what freedom means, it spins a rather powerful tale of revolution, revenge and ultimate redemption. And it does so extremely well.
Sadly, the Geomod engine, again, is not as forthright as the initial game. However, what it lacks in scale, it mostly compensates with application. Buildings have real weight to them, taking more than wild flailing to bring tumbling down. The physics have received some criticism, due to gutted towers remaining standing on only a handful of pillars. But this was not, as many believe, a lazy coding by the development staff. It reflects attempts to find a balance between realism, and fun. And remember, the gravity on Mars is around a third less than Earth. And the atmospheric pressure is not quite so punishing.
The third person perspective, I feel, was a good choice in this case. It allows for a new dynamic to the game, which Volition have utilised expertly. Taking heavy, and quite obvious, influence from the Grand Theft Auto series. There are roads, and petrol stations, and roving EDF patrols. This has lead to, some people, dubbing the game Grad Theft Auto Mars. And it’s a name that fits in many ways. But, I must note, as many similarities as there are, there are just as many differences. It’s a classic example of taking an idea and adding your own spin.
Controls are pretty slick, simple and responsive. And boy oh boy, that hammer you have...never has hitting things been this gratifying. In a matter of only a few seconds, some well placed whacks can bring a guard tower tumbling down right on top of the nearby barracks. Or a few remote mines lining a bridge, sending a passing EDF convoy tumbling into a ravine. I still pine, somewhat, for the Geomod of old, yes. But this is an acceptable substitute. And speaking of that hammer. Just wait until you swing it overhead, bringing it crashing down on an EDF soldiers head, watch him bounce off the ground with the force of the blow, and tell me that isn’t satisfying.
Gunplay is equally slick, with a modest, but extremely varied, collection of firearms to choose from. From the obligatory pulse rifle, to the series favourite rail driver, to the nanite powered Nano Forge, and many layers in between. Each has a distinct feel and clearly show their strengths in different environments, though you will probably find yourself favouring the pulse rifle and nano forge. The first is a good, all around assault weapon and, dude, the nano forge eats anything. And I mean that literally. The nanites eat anything they touch. Nice!
- Great sound design: Eerie and ever so slightly off, but in all the right ways
- Open World: Even many areas that should be off limits are accessible. It just isn’t a good idea to go there
- Side missions: A wide variety of static and random sub missions, most of which can be repeated, adding a great deal more playtime than previous games
- Slick gameplay: Firefights feel panicked and intense, buildings groan under pressure and vehicles respond mostly how you would expect
- Solid plot: A more personal tale, that really focuses on the Human element and the nature of oppression
- Games for Windows Live: Doesn’t honestly bother me, but a lot of people dislike it immensely
- Obvious console port: Textures are a bit meh, but not terrible