Mars is oppressed and it’s your job to free the masses! No, this isn’t a sequel to the movie Total Recall (even though it totally could be), it is the third entry in the Red Faction series. Just as with its predecessors, the storyline is wrought with enough plot twists and complexity to make it fit for the SyFy channel or the bowels of G4TV programming. Gamers with either PS3s or Xbox 360s are treated to an explosive adventure with their hero who shall most assuredly whack and demolish his way through to the end.
This review assumes no prior knowledge of the series, though I will say that in the past, the series was in first person perspective and was marketed under the appeal that the environments were destructible with plenty of futuristic weapons present to bring that destruction to fruition. In this effort, however, the view has been changed to third person. This was reportedly done to allow the player to get a better feel for what is taking place.
To round out the experience, Red Faction: Guerilla allows for play in an open world realm. Using a variety of settler, military, and resistance-modded settler vehicles, the hero is be able to drive and crash through entire map at any time in the game.
Taking a page from the Mercenaries franchise, this game sends random patrols about as well as alert-level sensitive reinforcements to keep you on your toes and at times overwhelm you. Fans of the Mercenaries series will instantly fall in love with this game. Though one does not have the air support, weapon drops, and military vehicles to drive as in that series, Red Faction still keeps in the spirit of the open world destruction mantra that made Mercenaries so popular.
Thankfully, the player is not alone though in these missions to cause destruction. As they progress through each region of the map, they are given an EDF (bad buy) control meter as well as a morale meter. Completing tasks and missions in each sector will raise the resistance’s morale which will increase the amount of resistance fighters who will rally to support the player in any situation. On the control meter side of things, the goal in each region is to reduce EDF control to zero by completing mercenary missions (these you can choose from through icons on a map), destroying key emplacements (also shown on the map), destroying smaller buildings and outposts, completing randomized resistance request missions (thru radio alerts), and completing storyline driven missions (required to free each sector and beat the game). Trust me, as you go along through the missions and have success after success, the amount and difficulty of the resistance that the EDF will throw at you will reach levels where you’ll be begging for other resistance fighters to help you!
Also, in key spots of the storyline and the map of Mars you’ll be treated to the use of Mech’s to dole out your destruction. Using a construction mech to flip vehicles and crush soldiers is terribly satisfying after a long day’s work!
How much one will be drawn to this game is directly proportional to their appetite for destruction. Weapons like nano rifles (which disintegrate things), rocket launchers, demo charges, sledgehammers, and more do various levels of damage to buildings and structures. Watching a huge bridge or tower fall at the hands of well placed demo charges or rockets is extremely satisfying as rubble and people go flying. Even vehicles can cause the necessary damage to tear apart a building. The graphics do justice to the mayhem that the player causes, though there is a small bit of slowdown in the frame rate depending on the size of the destruction.
The models for the EDF soldiers and the landscape (thanks Mars) leaves a bit more to be desired however. Though it is understandable that Mars is nothing but rock, the graphics (outside of things blowing up) are still mediocre at best.
Control-wise the player won’t have too many troubles. Running, jumping, and crouching one's way through the different missions and the satisfying number of weapons is on par with other similar games such as Mercenaries 2.
As satisfying the weapon loadout is, you’ll find yourself wishing for easier access to the EDF weapons that are clearly superior to your own. Certain bombs and anti-personnel guns at first are not available until one clears certain missions. Once they are added to one's arsenal the player will spend a lot of time searching for salvage which is the substitute for money in this game. With this salvage, you’ll be able to upgrade the ammo amounts and effectiveness of most of the weapons you’ve access to.
Still, even with all the elaborate weapons you’ll find and use, your default grunt work sledgehammer and demo charges will always do the job just fine throughout the course of the game. Whether in single or multiplayer there is such joy in seeing one's opponent knocked through the air by a wicked looking sledgehammer!
Even after completing the storyline of the game, the player is allowed to continue going in order to get even closer to that 100 percent completion.
The multiplayer modes (Wrecking Crew multiplayer is available without connecting to an online service) are quite entertaining. Keeping the theme of the destructive environments in mind, the developers designed strategic maps and modes that highlight and even require destruction and at times reconstruction of buildings and structures to win. Your traditional deathmatch and capture the flag modes are here, but you are also given modes where each team has a dedicated destroyer must protect or kill the other sides destroyer before a point goal of destruction is reached. Also, conquest style games are played by building and destroying the “spawn point”. In another mode, one team is tasked with taking out a number of key structures while the other side must defend. In every mode, there are randomized or planned default weapon loadouts. In the maps, the additional weapons can be picked up and used. To add to the insanity, backpacks are added in each map providing different powers such as healing, jetpacks, camouflage, vision, and destructive charging. So much strategy can be used in every case that at times the learning curve when playing the vets online can be kind of steep. The action is fast and furious and not too many players will find themselves creeping about the map for kills.
This solid multiplayer mode also promises to have downloadable content to add to the initial build. With that said, the 20 or so hour single player experience along with all the rest of the games modes and capabilities adds up to quite the experience.
All in all, Red Faction: Guerilla is stuffed with plenty of modes, weapons, thrills, and fun to make it one of 2009’s top game releases.
Red Faction: Guerilla is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Strong Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3 and PC.