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Review: Red Faction Guerrilla
by Tyson Breen

Looking back at the history of mankind, one thing can be traced as the highlight of all of our existence; destruction. No game captures this essence greater that Red Faction Guerrilla. Developed by Volition Inc. (the team behind the Saints Row series) and using the "Geo-Mod 2.0" destruction engine, Red Faction successfully gives the player a feeling of pure destructive bliss. However, the other aspects of the game wrapped around the carnage don't quite impress the way the demolition of buildings does.

In Red Faction Guerrilla you take the role of Alec Mason, a worker who relocated from Earth to Mars looking for work. Upon his arrival on the red planet, Alex meets up with his brother (a member of the rebellion group "Red Faction") who is soon gunned down by the Earth Defense Force before you even start to play the game. To make things worse, after the gruesome murder of your brother, the EDF associates you with the rebellion and attempts to take you out. You are promptly saved by members of the Red Faction and, with one thing leading to another, you're soon a full fledged member of an organization supporting the liberation of Mars. Not that any of this really matters though, because the games cutscenes are few and far between. Apart from the intro, ending, and a few story highlights through the game, the story is told entirely though radio transmissions. This causes the games story to come of as uninteresting, anti-climactic, and in some cases, practically non-existent.

Although the story comes off as throwaway, it really isn't the highlight of the game. As mentioned before, the most entertaining aspects of the game come from destroying the buildings on Mars. The game starts you off with a hammer and some remote explosives to take care of destroying architecture. These two items will be your companions for most of the game, but a few other tools are introduced later in the game, such as a rocket launcher and a rifle that's ammunition melts anything on contact. The thing that makes the destruction in this game so pleasing is how realistically the buildings break apart. Explaining the destruction, or even watching it in a trailer, really doesn't do it any justice, it's something that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate. The first time you take you hammer to the side of a building and it slowly crumbles to the group is extremely satisfying. That being said, the disintegrating architecture of Red Faction isn't perfect either. On numerous occasions I found buildings being supported by single pieces of metal. Another annoyance that I encountered several times was ramming into a building with a vehicle in hopes of destroying a good portion of it, only to be stopped dead in my tracks by an indestructible object.

Mars is portrayed fairly accurately in Red Faction, all of the rocks and environments being red. However, this isn't as visually pleasing due to nearly every inch of the games world looking identical. This is even furtherly emphasized by all of the games buildings are quite similar in design, and most of the structures are repeated all across the map. Although the design of Mars in Red Faction isn't so creative, it is partially forgiven by that fact that the game is very visually pleasing. Using the Havok engine, the games visuals are very polished, and though they arn't the greatest graphics, Red Faction is a good looking game. My only complaint regarding the games graphics is there is constant texture popping as the games far off objects appear from the foreground.

Red Faction Guerrilla is an open world game. This means that it falls victim to many of the genres problems. For starters, you will constantly be navigating the games world using your minimap rather than the actual game screen. The games developers attempted to avoid this by placing a navigation line in front of you when walking or driving toward an objective, but I still found myself staring at the bottom left corner of the screen way too much. Another pitfall that the game encounters is the plethora of side quests. Now this can be considered good or bad depending on how much you enjoy the game, but there are only 9 types of side missions and most of them are not very amusing. However, I did find some of the games side missions, such as destroying a building as fast as possible, and maning the turret of a vehicle to destroy as much as possible, to be quite fun.

I find it necessary to bring the games AI up. It proved to be excessively annoying at times. It seems thoroughly unnecessary that as soon as I so much as touch a building that suddenly and entire army appears to take me down. The game constantly throws more enemies than required at you, all of them blessed with pin-point accuracy. This makes for some frustrating moments in the game, especially when long, checkpointless missions have to be restarted several times. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you teammates are never much help at all, that is if they even show up. From missing most of there shots, to would-be rescued hostages not being able to get into your vehicle, your teammates are the only thing more aggravating than you enemies.

Red Faction Guerrilla's multiplayer offering is fairly standard. It consists of two modes: wrecking crew and online. Wrecking crew is a pass-the-controller, local-only destruction fest. It involves two to four players taking turns to see who is able to achieve the most points given different rule sets. This mode is quite entertaining as it eliminates some of the frustrations of the single player campaign and allows players to enjoy ripping down buildings without any distractions. The other multiplayer component of the game is online. This mode is exactly what it sounds like; travel into the world of Xbox Live or Playstation Network and put your skills to the test against other players. The online modes are fairly generic, consisting of the usual suspects of deathmatch (called anarchy), team deathmatch, and capture the flag. Some other modes, such as damage control and demolition, bring the destruction factor into the mix for a more unique flavor. The main difference to the way the game is played in the multiplayer is the addition of backpacks. Stations are set up across the maps that distribute power-ups in the form of backpacks. From being able to run faster to healing yourself and teammates to making yourself invisible, there's a backpack for nearly every situation. The online multiplayer in Red Faction can be hectic at times, and some of the weapons don't work as good against thinking opponents, but it's a fun if your looking to kill a bit of time. Aside from the addition of the backpacks, the multiplayer comes off as an afterthought in the development in the game, and it's hard to see the game keeping a solid number of players other than a dedicated few.

All in all I enjoyed my time with Red Faction Guerrilla. The campaign drags on a little more than it needs too, and the story is quite forgettable, but the game's emphasis on destruction is truly entertaining. The games missions and environments are not especially varied, but the graphics and fun factor more that make up for these shortcomings. The games multiplayer is enjoyable if you want to get a little more out of the game, but it's hard to recommend to anyone looking for a strong, long-term multiplayer experience. If you are looking for an open world experience, or just a fun time in the summer games drought, Red Faction Guerrilla is a great game that can easily be recommended if you can get past its flaws.

7/10 - Worth a rental for fans of the series/genre


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- Tyson Breen

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