Bring Mars to Victory!
How do you stop a force that has an entire world backing it up? Well, this is a question that Martian colonists ask themselves every day. The answer is, “let’s blow stuff up.” If you like the idea of exploding things on an alien planet and in a sandbox environment, then you will love Volition and THQ’s Red Faction: Guerrilla.
This is the third installment in the series, employing a third-person perspective; unlike the previous two titles, which were first-person shooters. Volition made the switch to third-person because they thought it would make it easier to see the environment as the player destroys it. Destruction is the game’s main purpose, so in my opinion this is a great and welcome change to the franchise. Red Faction: Guerrilla offers a lengthy campaign, a robust multiplayer, and big enough explosions to satisfy anyone’s appetite.
Red Faction: Guerrilla takes place in 2125 where the Earth Defense Force (EDF) has forced Martian society into a state of un-free labor. As a consequence of the EDF’s oppression of Martian society, the colonists formed the Red Faction Resistance to rebel against the Earth Defense Force, expel them from Mars, and negotiate for a less oppressive regime with Earth’s leaders.
Players will take control of Alec Mason. He arrives on Mars to reunite with his brother, Daniel. His brother fills him in on the EDF and the Red Faction, but Mason is reluctant to join the resistance until his brother is gunned down by an EDF assault team. Mason swears revenge on the EDF and joins the Red Faction.
Guerrilla’s gameplay is similar to other sandbox games. The character has the ability to jump, run, use different weapons, and hijack vehicles. In the single-player there are six zones that must be liberated. Within each zone there are different side and story missions that players must complete in order to earn salvage and reduce EDF control. Players will not have access to the entire map right away. First, you must liberate each zone before you can transverse the entire map. In order to free a zone from the EDF, players must drop the control rating in that area. This can be accomplished by completing story missions, destroying propaganda, and by destroying EDF property; all these objectives are marked on the map.
The gameplay is very clever, because none of the side missions or collecting the salvage ever feels forced. For example, while completing a mission to take control from the EDF, players will collect salvage as well as raise the morale of the sector. Better morale will cause other colonists to join you during fire fights against the EDF assault teams. Not only will they make your life easier, but they will net you more salvage after completing your mission. Most of the story-based missions consist of fending off the EDF, rescue attempts, destroying facilities, and escape sequences. Side missions are just as fun and consist of assault sequences where you have to defeat a certain number of EDF troops. There are also destruction missions that have you destroy a structure within a limited amount of time with limited ammunition. You will complete most of the story and side missions until you break the EDF’s control on the zone. Once you do this, you will unlock the final mission in that area. Once you complete it, you will unlock the next zone.
Salvage is the game’s currency. You will use it to purchase weapons, upgrades, and armor. There are many different types of weapons such as rockets, mines, sledgehammers, and later on you will even be able to buy a jet pack; all of which are upgradeable. Destroying structures and objects will also earn you salvage. The single-player is fun, but after the first couple zones, the gameplay will start to feel a little stale and repetitive.
The game’s best feature is the environment’s destructibility. Almost every structure and building on the surface can be reduced to rubble. You can destroy them by running a vehicle into the structure, shoot a rocket, use a mine, or even a sledgehammer. If you want to be creative, you can rig a vehicle with a mine and run it into a building, jump out, and blow everything up. It’s a really fun aspect of the game, and it will keep you coming back for more time after time.
Red Faction controls very well and feels very natural; the weapons are mapped to the face buttons, you’ll navigate the character with left analog stick, and then control the camera with the right stick. The right trigger is used to fire your weapon, and the left one is used for a melee attack. LB/L1 is used to sprint or for special items such as the jetpack. RB/R1 is used in conjunction with the face buttons to select a specific weapon, or it can be used alone to cycle through the weapons. Back/Select button is used to pull up the map. I really like the controls, as they are very easy to use. You can also switch weapons quickly which is great during action sequences, especially while playing multiplayer.
The multiplayer is great. There are six games you can play: Anarchy (Deathmatch), Team Anarchy (Team Deathmatch), Capture the Flag, Siege (attack and defend key structures), Damage Control (fight for control over targets), and Demolition (protect your destroyer while they destroy everything). These games can be modified extensively. Some settings include respawn delay, regeneration, health, movement speed, and much more. Most of these modes are not in any way different than what you will find in other online shooters, but the way Red Faction separates itself is through its destructibility.
The destruction adds a new dimension to the gameplay that does not exist in other online shooters. What I mean is, you will be able to create new methods of attack and new ways of escape, so if the entry way is blocked off, you can just blow a hole in a wall and escape. Another great feature is the backpacks. You can find these scattered around the maps. Some will be jetpacks and others like the trembler can emit sonic waves that can bring down an entire building. These features are what separate Red Faction’s multiplayer from the likes of Call of Duty and Halo. Volition has created a very fresh and exciting multiplayer and has somehow managed to bring something new to Deathmatch, which has not been done in quite some time.
The presentation of Red Faction is a mixed bag. The explosions and the buildings look great, but the world is barren. You will often feel alone when traveling from one point to another. There are a number of low resolution textures throughout the world, and the art style is very boring. The character models are not very memorable, and the EDF characters are not very well done; they are generic. The voice acting is average, but the environmental effects are good. The background music is fine and the chatter from the colonists is funny and well done. Their conversations change with their morale, so if you destroy an EDF building, they’ll become more upbeat. If you die or if they die, they will become hopeless, and this will be conveyed in their dialogue.
Red Faction: Guerrilla is a great game. Volition did many things right, but they came up short in some areas such as the subpar story, mediocre visuals, and the less than memorable characters. Even though Red Faction has plenty of flaws, most are over shadowed by a good and lengthy single-player experience, great multiplayer options, and the environment’s destructibility. Summers are usually slow in the gaming business, but once in a while we get a great game. Red Faction: Guerrilla is one of those games, so don’t miss your chance to stay inside and enjoy your summer!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
The environment’s destructibility is great, but everything else is lacking and plain. 4.5 Control
The controls are great. They are very easy to use, especially when the action gets hectic. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound is very average, but the chatter between the colonists is well done. 4.0 Play Value
The game is a lot of fun-especially the multiplayer. The single-player is also lengthy. 4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.