Move Swiftly and
Carry a Big Hammer
May 14, 2009 – After a lengthy and heated exchange of gunfire, you find yourself chasing after your adversary. He’s been badly hurt now, so all that’s left is to land a few more well-placed shots to finish him off. Right as you are about to put your foe away, he ducks around a corner, giving himself cover from your fire as well as a strategic advantage.
While he may be hurt he could be standing anywhere on the other side of the wall that is now obscuring your view, safe in the knowledge that if you want to pursue, you must come around that very same corner. Wouldn’t it be great if you had more options than to either charge around the corner and get shot in the face or leave and find someone else to shoot? Thankfully, from what we’ve had a chance to play at a recent multiplayer event, players won’t be limited by this kind of situation in Red Faction Guerrilla (RFG).
The main reason that situations like this can be more easily and directly resolved comes in the form of the game’s new Geo-Mod 2.0 engine. Without getting technical, this engine allows anything found in RFG that appears to be manmade to be dismantled, decimated, and completely demolished. If you need to get somewhere in a hurry, just create a shortcut by punching holes through anything that stands between you and your desired destination using your trusty sledgehammer. When an enemy attempts to seek refuge from battle by ducking around a corner, attack them from whichever direction you wish by smashing through any of the surrounding walls. It was fairly easy to flank opponents during these multiplayer sessions although it still always felt fair and balanced, since every player could utilize the environmental destruction to their advantage.
Doing a sizeable amount of damage to structures can also result in some interesting strategies. The stairs on ramps can be knocked loose, leaving nothing for the opposition to climb to get to your position. Bridges, walkways, and tunnels can be completely destroyed, creating your own fairly well protected and inaccessible island for you to defend from your foes. Snipers who utilize buildings and structures to take advantage of their raised vantage points can also be more easily dealt with. One could take out the building’s supports with their sledgehammer, place some remote charges around its base, or just fire a rocket into it and watch the entire building crumble beneath its occupants. Collapsing buildings can even serve as a weapon themselves as they will likely kill anyone standing inside them at the time of their destruction.
The destruction and strategies found while playing RFG multiplayer were only further accentuated by what were being called backpacks. These packs are essentially wearable power ups that were scattered around every map in RFG’s multiplayer. Some good examples of these are the thrust, rhino, concussion, and fleet foot packs. With a quick tap of LB, thrust will briefly and rapidly send you skyward for a better vantage point to shoot from, rhino will send you destructively charging through anything and anyone standing roughly ten to twenty feet in front of you, concussion sends out a shockwave disabling and hurling nearby foes, and fleet foot can turn anyone into a track star.
There are ten different types of these packs in total, and each has its own recharge timer that helps to keep them from feeling unbalanced and overpowered. Some of the more useful packs will take longer to recharge than the ones that won’t necessarily turn the tides of a firefight. Still, each pack certainly has its uses and combining them with the right weapons, such as fleet foot and the sledgehammer or thrust with a rocket launcher, can have brutal results. The placement of these power ups throughout each map also seemed to create an interesting dynamic as well, since you will likely want to keep your adversary from being able to make use of the more devastating backpacks.
As far as modes go, RFG has the standards you might expect like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag as well as a few that seem like variations on other established standards. Damage Control has teams competing over communication dishes, trying to destroy the opposing team’s and then repair and gain control over them. Siege mode takes place in two parts with each team taking turns defending and attacking a set of structures, with the highest score determining the winner. The last mode is Demolition, which is a destruction-focused variation on VIP. Each team is assigned a destroyer who scores points by damaging/destroying structures, and killing the opposing team’s destroyer will also net you points.
Although we weren’t able to fully witness the finer points of exactly how it worked, the multiplayer in RFG earns players experience points (XP). Once certain amounts of XP are earned from playing online, certain things will unlock as a reward. Some of the unlocks mentioned at this event were different characters, playlists, badges, hammers, and bonus XP events, which help you to earn even more XP.
The mix of destruction and strategy found in RFG’s multiplayer was definitely satisfying during our limited time with the game. Figuring out which backpacks are best used with which weapons should prove a fun and interesting process once the game is released in early June. Of course, if you can’t wait to hop online and start sledging your friends in the face, there will be a multiplayer demo released for the game on May 21st on Xbox LIVE as well as PSN. While the demo will have limited options and features, expect the finished multiplayer to initially include twenty one maps, eighteen weapons, and ten backpacks with more being planned for addition through DLC although no specifics dates or details were being given yet.
Change Is in the Air
January 9, 2009 – Destruction and video games seem to go together like milk and cookies. It doesn’t take much for gamers to get excited about the prospect of waging guerilla war and a distant planet, taking out their aggression brick by brick, and having their actions truly affect the game world. In Volition’s Red Faction: Guerilla (RFG), players get to do just that.
RFG follows the exploits of Alec Mason, an Earthling looking to improve his life by leaving his shadowy past behind him. With this as his motivation, Mason goes to live with his brother Dan on Mars. While on the red planet, he plans on settling down as a common miner. Little does he know, his brother is the honcho of a group of local freedom fighters known as the Red Faction. This clandestine army is waging a war against the EDF (Earth Defense Force). Fans of the series will recognize the EDF as the heroes from the first installment in the series. According to Lord Acton, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, after ascending to power, the EDF has become tyrannous. Shortly after arriving on Mars, players will take up the mantle of guerilla fighter, trying to inflict a massive toll in blood and treasure on the EDF, while securing the hearts and minds of the oppressed locals. This sets the stage for the destructive, sand box-style, third-person shooter gameplay of Red Faction: Guerilla.
As the developer of both Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Volition is no stranger to open worlds. In that light, players will have complete freedom to make their way through a terra-formed Mars in any way they wish, causing massive destruction to enemy installations while achieving mission objectives. Missions include taking out key enemy buildings, decreasing their influence, and establishing your own zone of control. In our hands-on time with RFG, it became clear that players will participate in a mix of roaming, mini-confrontations, clandestine operations, a propaganda war, and wider, pitched battles. As the Red Faction begins to establish itself in an area due to your persistent meddling, the local populace will begin to flock to your cause and help you oust the remnants of the former ruling bloc.
As cool as it is to freely roam through the large world, it’s even a whole lot better reaping destruction across the landscape. Virtually every edifice can be taken apart via explosives, heavy weapons, small arms fire, and even a common sledgehammer. That’s because RFG employs a hyper-realistic physics engine and a persistent destruction mechanic that makes strategic demolition one of the most important aspects of the game.
In other words, buildings and structures are constantly changing. Damage done by players will have lasting consequences on gameplay and level design. For example, while tooling around in the game, I took out a bridge, killing a bunch of guys standing on and below the span. Needless to say, using the environment to rain death upon my adversaries was great fun. However, to my surprise, a subsequent mission was somewhat frustrated by the inability to cross to the other side. This means there are real consequences to your actions, and it makes for a more engaging and interactive experience.
As such, becoming familiar with your surroundings and planning beforehand will be crucial. Setting remote charges in frequently used buildings and creating choke points for ambushes is all part and parcel of the game. If successful, players will be able to use a lot of strategy to trap their enemies in their designs. If their plans fail, they may find themselves hemmed in by their own stupidity and lack of forethought. Of course, cracking skulls with your back against a wall is also quite fun. The ability to be as brutal or as stealthy as you like should give the game a rather wide appeal.
Players will have access to both mundane and fantastic weaponry. In addition to common small and heavy arms, players will be delighted to know that weapons such as the electric arc welder, nano rifle, and singularity bomb will cause major problems to the EDF rank and file as well as enemy installations. On the other hand, players can rest easy knowing that the simplicity and uncomplicated pleasure of swinging a brutal sledgehammer into the face of a combatant or the side of a burning building is not lost amongst the list of futuristic armaments.
What’s more, there seems to be a good deal of variety available in terms gameplay. For instance, players will be able to ride around in vehicles spewing out fiery death with mounted boom-sticks. I had a lot of fun just cruising through the world taking out EDF propaganda signs and then dealing with the repercussions. The play-as-you-may aspect of RFG will definitely prove to be an important facet.
In total, there will be 22 “meta-level” missions and a ton of side missions spread across four distinct environments of Mars. Because Mars has been terra-formed, players will enjoy taking on the EDF in interesting areas that are nicely fleshed out and marked by their differences. Buildings and complexes abound, so regardless of where you are, expect to wreak havoc. Explosions look nice, buildings topple realistically, and the world is pretty. However, I would like to see a few more details in both the environments and death sequences; we like realistic textures and blood splatters. Although, keeping the gore to a minimum won’t substantially detract from the experience and may keep the game to a Teen rating.
Rounding out the game’s package are a host of multiplayer features. Volition has promised fully realized online multiplayer features that could revolutionize online shooters. Because of the game’s persistent destruction mechanic, players that like to camp out behind cover or snipe from distance will find their tactics thwarted by an ever-changing battlefield. That means players will have to shoot-and-scoot rather than perch-and-plink if they expect to dominate. Unfortunately, no hard details have been released concerning the available multiplayer modes, and we have not been given the opportunity to play in a developer-hosted session. This leaves us to believe that bugs are still prevalent, but we are expecting such glitches to be ironed out by the time the game is released in summer 2009.