Is an enemy military faction member shooting you in the face? Smash him with a hammer! Is a wall between you and your objective? Smash it with a hammer! Do you know how to make a somewhat bland third-person shooter above average? I’m sure you get the point.
Colonization of another planet has always been one of the key themes of science fiction throughout the history of the genre. The interpretation of living on a colonized Mars is a unique one, completely ignoring the fact that oxygen is required to live elsewhere. If you’re willing to put that one major inconsistency aside, you’re in for an awesome ride.
Like many other humans, you’ve come to Mars looking for work in construction and/or demolition. After being cleared to enter the planet by the incendiary Earth Defence Force you find your brother, Dan Mason, waiting for you with open arms. Shortly after finding a place to live, your first mission begins. Although Alec Mason, the protagonist of the story doesn’t know it, his brother belongs to the “terrorist” organization known as Red Faction. Any good guerrilla knows that salvage is their best friend, so they head off to an old rundown warehouse to demolish it and collect what they can.
A devastating turn of events takes place, which leaves Alec no choice but to join the Red Faction and fight the heartless EDF, if only to avenge the death of his brother. You see, the Earth Defence Force began as a peacekeeping organization to keep the settlers of Mars safe from those with less than helpful intentions. However their trust of the EDF was their downfall, because they became a regime set on ruling Mars simply for the amount of money that could be made back on Earth. Thus, the story begins…
As I began my trek through this world and its storylines, one of the first things I noticed was the interesting vehicle design. It hearkened me back the old days of building a model for the Lunar Rover. Obviously any vehicle that is built for traversing new gravity standards, and rough terrain must be different than anything driven here on Earth. Although there are a large number of vehicle types, their colors and design remain mostly the same for each model. They look different, and you can tell that research and care was taken in designing something that looked martian.
These vehicles are your main mode of transportation throughout the entire game, due to that fact you’ll quickly want to find the fastest and most durable car with the best firepower available. You’re going to do a lot of driving through open enemy gunfire and plasma cannons. Don’t think of this as something to be concerned with, as it comes naturally with time in the world and those high intensity driving parts are some of the best in the game. You’ll be given basic tutorials using your Guerrilla Handbook, a staple of any Red Faction member on mars, and it does give you a basic introduction to how the game works. You’ll drive to various missions, taking out key targets, protecting supplies, and my favorite part: destroying buildings.
When you begin the game you have nothing but a hammer, and you can potentially play the entire game using nothing but it, explosives, and a special gun you’re given later on in the story. The Havok engine is in place here, and Volition Inc. has done an above excellent job utilizing it. Part of your quest to destroy the Earth Defence Force includes knocking down almost all of their buildings. There is an extreme feeling of satisfaction as you slam your hammer through their walls until the building absolutely falls to rubble. What’s even better is if you’ve got a group of ten enemies inside when you drop it, and they all get crushed. But don’t be skeptical, as you’ll be doing more than smashing just buildings! There are monuments, vehicles, gas lines, and propaganda billboards that will feel the wrath of your mighty mallet!
One of the difficult things to know how to approach is the third-person shooter aspect that Red Faction does handle quite well. Most of the time you’ll just be smashing through things with your hammer, but every once in a while you’ll switch to your gun to off the annoying sniper, or spray bullets into a group of enemies. If you’re anything like the hardcore terrorist members of the Faction, your hammer and your explosives will be all you need to get the job done.
If you like guns, this game does have some unique weaponry for you to call your own, including the electric “Arc Weilder” and a very special gun I don’t want to spoil: it’s a dream of any demolition specialist, I’ll tell you that much. There are also Rocket Launchers, Buzz Saw Launchers, and many more weapons that your friend Samanya will be glad to put together for you.
In addition to the normal happenings on the world map, you’ll encounter hostage situations, tracking down rogue members of Red Faction., and hunting down specific EDF leaders. All of this will be achieved with your hammer, explosives, and guns. The question is, how is the game tied together? Honestly? I’ve been avoiding this part because it is the least exciting. Mars is an open world for you to explore, but it is pretty boring just driving from place to place. You have a “terrorist” alert level, so from time to time you’ll be chased by EDF personal in their tanks, helicopters, and jeeps. It’s pretty easy to outrun them, and go hide in one of the Red Faction safe houses. Does this detract from the great gameplay, cool effects, and weapons? Not so much, but it doesn’t add much of a fun factor, either.
On the flip side, Mars is a beautiful place to live. The red rocks, deserts, and snow-capped mountains are beautiful to look at, even though the design is simple. As you drive from city to city, liberating it from the EDF, you’ll even find blue pastures and expensive homes built right in the side of this martian terrain. All of these elements are tied together with a very simple, but workable story.
As far as the story goes, don’t think too much: you’re out to drive the EDF off Mars, and that’s it. If you take the time to complete all of the missions, side quests, and collectibles you’re looking at over forty hours of quality gameplay time. Even just doing the basic missions and a few important side quests will net you over twenty-five hours of martian mayhem, and that doesn’t even include the stellar multiplayer mode.
Using inspiration from the gameplay, Volition Inc. has developed a very complete, and very enjoyable multiplayer mode for Red Faction. Using the well-built third-person shooter mechanics, you’ll have an opportunity to play death match, capture the flag, or “destroy” mode, where you, of course, destroy the enemy bases. Each of these modes come with team, and free-for-all options.
Each of the maps offer a unique location and obstacles that are in a perfect fit with the scenes and scenarios of the single-player campaign. You’ll find yourself battling it out on locations as diverse as snow-capped mountains surrounded by military installations to marauder camps. Each of them make you feel at home as you lay to waste your enemies and their objectives.
In the end, I was surprised by Red Faction: Guerrilla. As I went through the first few moments of the game, I thought I was in for a mediocre experience, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Red Faction is one of the best third-person shooters out on the market right now.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
In a perfect world, the open environment would've seemed a bit more alive, but this does not distract from the experience as a whole. The Graphics are kind of simple, but not in a bad way.
|How does our scoring system work?|
There's nothing more satisfying than shooting, smashing, and driving through blockades of enemies with this glorious physics system.
The voice acting is quality, and the soundtrack fits the scenes, but it isn't outstanding.
The longevity of Red Faction is near perfect, with over forty hours of gameplay and a great multiplayer mode.
I'm convinced this is one of the best third-person shooter experiences since Gears of War 2.