Red Faction Guerrilla

Red Faction Guerrilla (RFG) is the latest in a series of shooters involving the liberation of Mars from a bunch of jerks. This third entry into the series mixes the formula up a bit, though. The first change is that RFG is an “open world” game where you can freely run or drive around, tackling missions at your leisure and constantly checking the map to figure out where the heck you are. This works well, even if Mars is a pretty boring and sterile place relative to the venues of other open world games.

The other major change to the Red Faction formula involves what you do once you’re done running around pounding random people with sledgehammers and you decide to actually hear out one of your fellow revolutionaries and engage in some got guerrilla action. Like any good guerrilla fighter, your job here is most often to sneak/dash in and blow stuff up something important. Previous games in the series emphasized the game’s “geo mod” technology which let you use large explosive devices to slowly and pointlessly deform the game’s terrain. In RFG, on the other hand, the landscape is immutable but the buildings? Those can totally be blasted, knocked, and smashed into so many stray girders and rubble. In fact, I insist.

This is pretty much the hook that most of the game’s action is hung, and it REALLY works because reducing buildings what looks like Figure A in an IKEA assembly instruction manual is WAY more fun than you’d ever have guessed. The core mechanic also carries over to the game’s impressive online multiplayer where several modes challenge you to destroy/defend targets or just go nuts and cause more damage to ANY structure than your opponents can. All in all, the destruction mechanic is so great that it’s made me think about how much every other game sucks for not including it.

About my only substantial complaint about RFG is that I want a little more of certain things and less of others. For example, there are only a few missions related to the storyline that present you with new info, new experiences, and unique situations. These are all great missions, but there are just too few of them.

In between the good stuff the game will invite you to putz around on side missions it calls “guerrilla activities.” There are only a few different kinds of these, and once you’ve done each of them a couple of times there’s really no incentive to accept the constant invitations to do the same thing in a slightly different setting. And on top of that, some of them, like the ones where you try to blow stuff up from the turret of a moving vehicle or the ones where you have to drive a car halfway across the planet within an arbitrary time limit, are so difficult that they seem outright broken. The key to not rage quitting this game is to just avoid those missions entirely and have fun with the ones that let you blow stuff up.

Still, fantastic game and worth it alone for the smash and dash gameplay and the wonder you’ll get from the first time you detonate a half dozen remote charges and watch as your target building groans and teeters for a few seconds before finally tipping over into a cloud of twisted metal and concrete dust. It’s just great.

See the Wikipedia entry for more info and links to screenshots, etc.

Published by