While the idea of being able to demolish everything in one’s path is, undoubtedly, a tantalising prospect for an excitable gamer like myself, the way in which it is implemented within a game will always go a long way to either making or breaking the overall experience. THQ’s Red Faction: Guerrilla is a title that boasts such capabilities in abundance, but the question is: Can it travel beyond what is quickly becoming its main selling point? This demo, treating us to an entire mission’s worth of game play, gives us a fair idea as to what we can expect when the game releases in June.
A cinematic preview trailer introduces us to both the protagonist and what is to be his/your role during the campaign. You are Alec Mason, a miner who travels to Mars to find that the place is under the dictatorship of The EDF (Earth Defence Force). It’s 2120, fifty years on from the original Red Faction, and the good guys from that game have now turned ugly. You are going to help bring freedom to those forced to work under the EDF’s strict, unbearable conditions.
As the mission begins you are looking over a large mountainous valley that is scattered with industrial structures, vehicles and civilians. Actually, at first it’s difficult to know who is a friendly civilian and who isn’t, but the temptation to smash through anything and everything with the huge hammer you have equipped is rather a large one nonetheless. The sheer amount of damage you can cause to the environment leaves you in a state of constant experimentation, the task at hand feeling like a waste of time when you can expose some metal framework in a brick wall with a few swings of your indestructible weapon.
When you do eventually come under attack from guards in futuristic – often Halo-esque – uniforms and realise who the bad guys are, you can’t help your urge to continue just smashing EVERYTHING up. It feels too much like you’re just having a laugh with it. “Perhaps the novelty will wear off after some time,” I think, knowing it’s very difficult to gauge how I’d approach the game a few hours/missions in. The problem being, however, that you are rewarded bonus points for destroying EDF (I can’t help but think of the UK energy provider and chuckle every time) property. You then collect pieces of shattered buildings – for what seems unclear during the demo.
Having said that, the destructible environments on offer are truly fantastic – Geo-Mod 2.0 is quite an invention. The very site of a building collapsing piece by piece or exploding into a ball of chemical green flames (who doesn’t like those?) more than justifies the idea of bringing as much carnage to the evil regime as possible. Of course, it seems unreasonable to be able to drive a Hummer through the wall of a building without the vehicle so much as flinching, but why let realism get in the way of mindless fun?
The gun play is excellent and, again, fun. The overall feel of the combat harks back to the likes of Duke Nukem, while taking inspiration from the more recent Gears Of War and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. You’ll learn to use the cover system more and more, realising the enemy are no walkovers, although standing too close to a building full of toxic materials can often result in a sudden, explosive death. Not good.
Spiralling further into the ridiculous, the level soon has you obliterating everything in your path from the safety of the industrial walker that you are sent to recapture (yes, there is a goal). And as you finish with a neat on-rails shooting section, you realise that its ability to produce an action-packed gaming experience that manages to mix the ridiculous with the downright cool and classic is so far the most fascinating thing about Red Faction: Guerrilla. It will be interesting to see just how much variation Volition will offer us come June. I’m now very eager to find out first hand.
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