Red Faction: Guerrilla Review
|Genre:||Third Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||June 5th, 2009 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
The Red Faction games have a fine pedigree. Starting years ago with the first game, Volition and THQ produced a pair of decent, if linear, shooters with a pretty cool story, interesting weapons and, of course, the ability to damage and destroy parts of the environment in real time- a system known as GEOMod.
So we come to Red Faction Guerilla, the third game in the series, and a bit different to its predecessors. Set on Mars 50 years after the events of the first Red Faction, the Earth Defence Force (EDF), once the liberators of the red planet from the grip of the evil Ultor mining corporation, have now become the hated oppressors of the workers, dealing death and injustice wherever they go.
Into this melee comes Alec Mason, a demolition engineer summoned to Mars by his brother Dan who promptly gets killed by EDF forces after being caught stealing from a demolished mining outpost. Mason, now slightly peeved by his situation, joins the re-formed Red Faction resistance movement and is given one objective- liberate Mars- and how is he to achieve this?
By blowing up anything end everything that gets in his path. Simply put, Red Faction Guerilla is all about demolition - it delights in explosions, mayhem and the sounds of buildings collapsing under their own weight, it gives the player just about every weapon you could ever want to demolish the EDF forces and most of all- it's just so much fun.
The game's story is built entirely around liberating Mars sector by sector, starting out in the miner-held town of Parker, before fighting through 5 other zones and ending up in the modern metropolis of Eos (sound familiar?)
Along the way Mason can complete many side missions including rescuing miners from house arrest, intercepting convoys and couriers, special demolition missions which challenge you to find the quickest way to level a building and blowing up EDF buildings, all of which lower the EDF's control over the sector.
As the Red Faction gains more control, miners will join the battle with Mason and boxes full of ammo start popping up, which is very handy as Mason can't carry much ammo for his four selected weapons.
Once the level of EDF control has been lowered to a comfortable level, a liberation mission is unlocked which allows the faction to push the EDF out of the sector and into the next one, until the final climactic battle in the streets of Eos.
While the story is pretty predictable, the side missions, subtle hints to Ultor's demise, discovering the origin of the sinister Marauder raiders in the Badlands and a few surprises from the previous games make the game a joy to play and varied enough to keep you going for hours, which is lucky as Mars is pretty damn big.
But now on to the meat of the game: the re-vamped GEOMod engine. Now dubbed GEOMod 2, the engine is a fantastic addition to the game, allowing the player to demolish every single building, bridge and wind turbine on the surface of Mars- but not to damage the ground itself.
Every building has been programmed into the game as if an architect actually designed each structure- load-bearing struts form the core of the building, with the outer shell adding support and protection from the harsh conditions of the planet- but not from the harsh conditions of a sledgehammer.
Weapons-wise, Mason starts off with the usual selection of pistols and machine guns, before moving on to heavy missile launchers, a bladed weapon called the grinder, explosive charges and my personal favourite, the nano-rifle- a weapon which literally melts the building it hits- ideal for that massive bridge which a convoy is rolling across.
Speaking of vehicles, while the planet has its fair share of trucks and jeeps, also included are guerilla-modified tanks, EDF assault walkers, gunships and huge mining walkers which can flatten tower blocks just by walking through them. Aside from the story missions, hundreds of EDF-controlled buildings are also dotted around Mars' massive open-world surface, classified into low, medium or high importance targets.
Attacking and destroying a high risk target lowers the EDF control over a sector considerably, but requires a lot of thought to make sure that Mason can blast into the compound, demolish the building with explosives or sledgehammer then get out without being ripped to shreds by the EDF 'drones'.
Planning an assault on these targets is tricky in itself- do you walk up and then unleash hell in a surprise attack or attach mining charges to the side of an APC then drive through the building's wall and let the GEOMod engine do the rest?
The engine even makes the normally-tedious interception missions fun- I once found that a convoy was going to cross a bridge in about 5 minutes. Parking my dusty truck, I planted charges on the bridge's strong points and waited until the convoy was halfway across, then blew the charges and sent the five vehicles into the depths of a Martian crater. I then realised that since the damage done to the surface of Mars is permanent, I was stuck on one side of the bridge and had to find another way back- nice.
Graphically the game is pretty good looking. There is very little pop-up and the draw distance is excellent, mostly because the terraformed surface of Mars is pretty bare, coming in a variety of greys and browns, other than the green fields of the Oasis sector and the chrome and glass of Eos. Luckily, you are likely to be so busy blowing stuff up you won't notice the fairly boring expanse of Mars, so it's of little consequence.
Enemy AI is also pretty reasonable. The EDF drones and Marauders take cover and return fire, and will try to flank Mason- they will even start running away when he pulls out his sledgehammer, which is a good idea as one blow with the hefty tool is enough to turn a man to paste. Constant adaptation is the real meat of the game, as Mason will be faced with trial after trial to free the miners.
This go-anywhere, demolish anything gameplay translates nicely to the multiplayer, where a variety of modes keeps the gameplay at a high pace and demands constant improvisation. As well as the usual deathmatch modes, the game also features two modes centred around the destruction/defence of targets and a brilliant offline demolition-derby style game, suited to pass-the-controller play- ideal for parties.
The multiplayer also mixes things up a bit with the inclusion of "backpacks", which grant the user special abilities- the Rhino pack allows the player to run through walls, the Concussion pack knocks players to the ground and the Thrust pack propels the player to the top of a building in seconds, for example.
The GEOMod engine serves the multiplayer perfectly, with very little slow-down or lag- which is surprising, considering how fast a building can be reduced to rubble with a few careful shots from the nano-rifle. It certainly changes a game of capture the flag when the bridge the flag-carrier is running over dissolves in a haze of girders and masonry.
All in all, Red Faction Guerilla is a blast, pure and simple. While the story is a little weak, the various activities dotted about the Martian surface offer hours of explosion-filled fun and the GEOMod engine makes the careful demolition of a massive building a challenge in itself. Coupled with fun and fast-paced multiplayer modes both online and offline, the game is sure to offer hours of enjoyment- so go grab a sledgehammer.
Viva la Revolucion!
- Loads of things to do
- GEOMod engine is amazing
- Lots and lots of explosions and mayhem
Not so good stuff
- Slightly weak storyline