When it first released in 2001, Red Faction looked to change the way first-person shooters played. Volition did this by allowing the player to destroy anything in the environment and use that to their advantage. Fast forward to the present; Red Faction: Guerrilla has changed the series altogether. Instead of being an FPS, the game is now an open world third person action game. In fact, the only thing that is similar between the originals and Guerrilla are the destructible environments. RF: Guerrilla, however, takes the destruction one step further: everything is destructible and this can come in handy in many ways. Nevertheless, there is much more to Red Faction: Guerrilla than just making a mess out of Mars.
In the year 2075, the Earth Defense Force received a distress signal from a small mining facility on the surface of Mars. A group of rebels who called themselves the Red Faction had overthrown the ruthless Ultor Corporation after years of oppression. In response, the EDF launched a fleet of warships to Mars to free the miners, bring Ultor to justice, and to restore order to the Martian colonies. In order to ensure safety and security for the newly liberated colonists, the EDF set up command posts and bases across the planet. Initially, under the EDF’s rule, the people of Mars prospered: colonists established homesteads, built towns and independent mining operations, and began to stake their claims on Mars.
Much has changed over the past 50 years, however. The EDF’s heavy-handed tactics instilled deep-seated resentment among the miners and settlers of the Martian colonies. Colonists are being driven from their homes and mining claims by greedy, Earth-based corporations. Disgruntled settlers have organized workers’ strikes and protests, while the EDF has answered with curfews, detention centers, beatings and mass arrests. As the resentment grows, the violence continues to escalate. Now a small group of revolutionaries have banded together and taken up the Red Faction name. And though their enemy has changed, their battle cry remains unchanged: “Better Red than Dead.”
You take control of Alec Mason, a nomad who found himself on Mars due to the lure of his brother. On the Red Planet, he finds himself making a living as a miner. Guerrilla starts out with Alec getting assigned his new position, then meeting up with his brother, Dan. After a bit of catching up, we find out that Dan is a part of the Red Faction and is trying desperately to get Alec to join. Of course, Alec wants no part in the ongoing struggle and is on Mars to make a living, not to join a “revolution.” Fate, conversely, had other plans.
After Dan teaches his sibling the ways of Mars mining, an EDF Gunship mows him down. Distraught, Alec goes back to his living quarters only to find EDF troops waiting for him. Demanding answers, the EDF tell him that he is under arrest due to him being a part of the Red Faction. Not knowing what they are talking about, he resists and tries to get by. The EDF, well, they don’t back down. As he tries to get by, they push him to the ground ready to shoot him on the spot. Before they can, however, a member of the RF pops up from behind a rock and starts shooting. When all the dust settles, the EDF troops are dead and Alec is rescued only to become the newest guerrilla in the Red Faction.
As previously stated, RF: Guerrilla is an open-world action game done by the folks at Volition who brought us Saints Row 1 & 2; so it’s apparent they know a thing or two about open-world games. Just like Saints Row, RF is divided into different territories each with their own main and side missions. This is where the game shines. The game can be played in a couple different ways: do all the main missions then take on the side ones, or you can start with the side ones while doing the main quests whenever you feel the need to. Although, if you play the game by doing just the main story, you will have to play a few side quests from time-to-time in order to unlock the next story mission. But, that’s nothing new, as most open-world games have you doing this. RF differs, though, in the form of you have to play this game with a bit of strategy.
In each of the territories, the EDF has a certain amount of control, and it is your job to free each of those territories from their grasp. Where to start? Well the map is a great helper. Not only does it tell you where all the side and main quests are, but it also tells you the control the EDF has on each territory. The more control the EDF has on a territory means the harder it is to do certain things. For example, if you want to start taking out the EDF by doing side missions, this could pose a huge problem. Starting out, their numbers are fairly large to take on by yourself. So, in order to easily complete side quests, it would be smart to do a couple main missions to deplete their numbers. Once the main quests are complete, you can go back and finish up the side missions which, then, would be much easier. The choice is yours on how you want to take down the EDF, however.
Going through the missions, you are not always alone in taking the EDF down. As you enter an area to be freed and start your destruction, the miners working in that area will grab a gun and join you in the fight. They aren’t trained fighters, however, and are usually killed pretty easily but not before they take down a few bad guys, so they can be pretty useful sometimes. When a mission is finished and the area is free of EDF rule, a morale meter for that territory rises. When colonists die by yours or the EDF’s hands, however, the morale decreases. High morale increases the amount of ammo you receive from ammo crates that are scattered throughout the game, it increases the number of colonists that will pick up arms and join you in a fight, and it will also increase the total salvage you earn for completing missions.
You can also earn salvage by destroying any EDF controlled buildings. When a structure is completely destroyed, look for blue pieces of scrap lying on the ground. Salvage is used to purchase upgrades and new weapons from your safe houses. There are a few different weapons to purchase and use in your quest to destroy the EDF, but you will learn to love your trusty sledgehammer. There is nothing better than to watch a com tower fall over and take out three other com towers and knowing that just you and your sledgehammer caused that to happen.
As you progress through Red Faction, you will have to do many of the games aforementioned side quests, and there are quite a few at your disposal:
Guerrilla Raid – Help the Red Faction raid EDF controlled facilities.
EDF Assault – Help the Red Faction defend a stronghold against EDF forces.
House Arrest – Rescue detained colonists from the EDF.
Interception – Stop EDF personnel from delivering or capturing key vehicles.
Heavy Metal – Create chaos to distract the EDF.
Transporter – Discover important vehicles and race them back to your safe house
Demolitions Master – Put your destruction skills to the test
These side quests are scattered throughout each territory and can appear at anytime. So keep your eyes and ears peeled.
Controlling Alec is pretty simple with the controls being fairly similar to other sandbox games. The only problem I have with the controls is that the cover button is kind of in a weird place. If you really want (or need) to use cover, just go up to the object you want to hide behind and hit the left bumper or L1. Personally, I never used cover but it’s nice to know that you have the ability to use it when the action gets intense, and make no mistake about it, the action will get intense. I guess that’s why they put it where it is because they figured what’s the fun in hiding when you can go out and smash anything and everything.
Graphically, the game is pretty stunning for taking place on a predominately red colored planet. You get the sense that you are on dry, barren land. The time does shift from day to night and there are the occasional Mars sand storms. The only real issue I noticed was some clipping problems. If you are destroying a building from the inside out, most of the time the pieces that fall will hit and hurt you. A small amount of time, however, the objects harmlessly fall right through you.
When you are done proving to the EDF that there is nothing that can get in your way from saving your home planet, it’s time to take your skills online. There are seven online game modes and one offline, pass-the-controller game mode. The seven online modes are:
Anarchy – Kill or be killed in this free-for-all symphony of destruction.
Team Anarchy – Side with either EDF or the Red Faction and annihilate the opposition.
Capture the Flag – Carve your way through the enemy base to claim their flag and return it to your own.
Damage Control – Two teams vie for control over three targets. Destroy enemy targets and then rebuild them with your own Reconstructor to score points.
Siege – Two teams take turns attacking and defending targets on a map. Attackers will use whatever tools at hand to tear down everything in sight, while defenders use their Reconstructors to hold the line. The team that causes the most destruction wins.
Demolition – Protect your Destroyer as they wreak havoc on the environment and score points for your team. Be sure to protect your Destroyer at all costs. Without him, you can’t win.
Spectator – Sometimes all you want to do is just watch and try to learn your oppositions every move, and this mode allows you to do just that.
In each map (and there are over twenty) in any multiplayer mode, there are ten different backpacks that you can find, each having a different ability. Some are normal jetpacks while others are packs that allow you to plow through anything and anybody. So while you’re going around looking for different ways to win a match, keep your eyes open for these bad boys, they play a pretty crucial role in Red Faction’s multiplayer.
The offline, pass-the-controller game mode is called Wrecking Crew and consists of four different gameplay varieties:
Barrel Dash – Destroy barrels as quickly as possible to win a round. You have 60 seconds to destroy five red barrels. When the time runs out or all the red barrels are destroyed, the round is over. There are also blue barrels spread throughout the level that are worth bonus points, and time left over is also worth points.
Total Chaos – Do as much damage as possible to win a round. You have one minute and unlimited ammo.
Rampage – Do as much damage as possible to win a round. You have three minutes, but every shot you take with a weapon and every activation of your backpack will cost your time.
Escalation – Do as much damage as possible to win a round. You have limited ammo, so use your shots wisely, with each round the amount of ammo and time increases.
The multiplayer is, in a word, amazing. I haven’t had this much fun playing online since Halo 3. It never gets old or boring as there are different ways to kill enemies or complete an objective. Online supports up to sixteen players and has the absolutely no lag. The only problem I encountered in multiplayer is the lack of the ability to run. I know this is because the run button is replaced by using the backpacks, but why can’t you run if you aren’t wearing one?
Red Faction: Guerrilla is an in your face, balls to the wall, destroy everything in your path treat. With a ton of missions to complete, an entire planet to destroy, and online modes that will have you sitting in front of your television for hours upon hours, this game has it all. I know this has been said a ton of times before, but it holds true for this game; if Red Faction: Guerrilla doesn’t get your blood pumping, check your pulse. Red Faction: Guerrilla should not be overlooked by anyone, period.