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Review

Review: Red Faction Guerrilla

Has the 3rd in the series destroyed a good reputation? Or is this Volitions most explosive title yet?

After our Red Faction Guerrilla hands on in London, I became very excited about taking the trip to Mars upon release day.  Many developers have claimed their game is ground breaking in terms of destructive game play, but none have offered the level of realism and mind blowing physics that this title presents.  Make no mistake – the destruction in this game will blow you away.  It is by far the most impressive title in terms of physics and size ever to grace the gaming world, and you will fall in love with all the destruction.

The year is 2125 and you, Alec Mason, arrive on Mars seeking work. You meet with your brother and things already look bad, he seems nervous and afraid of something or someone.  The Earth Defence Force (EDF) has the planet in its hands, and within a few moments your brother is killed with the EDF branding you a rebel, a member of the Red Faction.  So begins your quest to discover who was behind it all, and lead the Red Faction in a massive rebellion to liberate Mars from the EDF.

Within the first few moments you are encouraged to blow the crap out of stuff.  You really do not need an excuse as it is just so tempting, and physics like this just scream “destroy everything”.  At the beginning there is a short tutorial, your brother’s last moments spent teaching you how to drop buildings and collect salvage.  The salvage you collect can then be used to purchase and upgrade weapons and equipment, and you can collect it from pretty much every man made structure you lay waste to.

So you to take on the EDF as a member of Red Faction, whilst netting as much salvage as possible to get you better tools for the job, and man are the tools up to it.  Amongst the usual sniper rifles, machine guns, pistols and shotguns, you have a few really unique weapons.  There is the Thermobaric rocket launcher that packs a massive punch and allows you to detonate rockets remotely.  The Arc Welder will see you fry your foes to a crisp by launching bolts of electricity their way, and is capable of hitting multiple foes within its firing arc.  My personal favourite, the Nano Rifle, is a high tech material eating beast of a gun. When it is fired at some poor soul the nano machines eat away at his flesh and he disappears much like a vampire in sun light. Oh and this beauty is silent too, providing the target doesn’t scream like a man with his nuts caught in the gears of a combine.  It is also satisfying to hear EDF troopers say “what the hell kinda weapon is that?” when they witness the mysterious vanishing of the guy next to them.  Then of course there is the sledgehammer, the symbolic weapon of Red Faction Guerrilla, and it is as every bit lethal as all the other hi-tech weaponry.  Slugging away at EDF troopers and structures is great fun and results in satisfying damage and cheers of joy as you unleash carnage on everything in your path.

The main missions see you completing various objectives to progress the story, and liberating sections of the map one at a time.  The map is epic, twice the size of the original Saints Row, you will find plenty to do, or rather destroy here.  Each sector has a unique look to it. The Bad Lands for instance looks like your average depiction of Mars with red mud and a rocky surface, or there is the Oasis sector with greener than green grass and a more Earthly settling.  The structures vary; some have a futuristic styling with plenty of shining metal and glass, others with an industrial look such as tall cooling towers made of bricks and mortar.  The graphics on a whole are fairly impressive given the scale.  Sure you will see low res textures when up close to surfaces and the jaggies are present everywhere you go, but you will only notice the lack of polish if you break from the action and take a thorough look around.

There are plenty of side missions used for lowering the control of the EDF in the sector and raising the morale of the Red Faction.  These missions are the repetitive sandbox type that sees you freeing hostages or ambushing convoys.  It is the fact that you can tackle an objective in any number of ways that keeps the repetitive structure of these side missions from becoming tedious.  One time I rescued the hostages by using the sniper rifle on the guards, running into the building and freeing the hostages, fighting our way out and then into a buggy and away we went.  Another time I thought sod it and drove an APC straight through the building improvising both an entrance and exit, I used mines to drop the floor above and kill the guard. I then set the hostages free and took off in the same APC I started the rescue with.  Even when you have completed the lengthy campaign there is plenty to come back for, including challenges and races that earn more salvage, increase morale or lower EDF control in that sector.  Once you have completed the game you unlock the extra “insane” difficulty setting, and you can continue completing all the side missions with your current weapon and equipment upgrades.

With this being a sandbox game it is essential to include vehicles, and Red Faction features plenty.  Sure you have some great wheels dressed with thick armour and pimped with twin fifty calibres.  But wait until you find your first walker, a mech vehicle that has many forms and variations.  These metal goliaths take as much abuse as they dish out, and they are easily the most fun vehicles to go on a rampage with.  There is the nimble light walker with thrusters enabling short bursts of flight, crashing down on enemies and buildings.  There is also the heavy walker focusing more on ranged combat and sending messages of doom via missiles from a generous rocket pod.  The vehicles are also as much fun to destroy as the structures, and they handle well with a good weighty feeling to them.

The sound in this game serves its purpose well, with the guns sounding really meaty and the explosions are loud and satisfying.  Perhaps the most impressive is the sound of buildings creaking and failing under stress when damaged, followed by an earth shattering rumble when anything bigger than a guard house crumbles to the ground.  The voice acting is good and characters expressive, both in cut scenes and in game.  The music is adequate and none intrusive, yet it doesn’t complement the action as well as it could.

It is easy to find your way around the entire map thanks to a GPS system that allows you to place beacons, always displaying a path to your next objective and I never witnessed it send you on a wrong path.  The AI does not display any impressive behaviour but rather serves its purpose, and on just the normal difficulty the game was a good challenge.

There is also a nifty trophy system where you can pause the game and track your progress towards unlocking a trophy.  This is viewable in both single player and multiplayer modes, and serves as a good reference for example on how close you are to that trophy for one hundred kills using the sledgehammer.

In addition to the lengthy single player mode there are the multiplayer and wrecking crew modes.  The multiplayer features variants of deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and capture and hold.  It is a fantastic multiplayer experience and has plenty of unlockables, ensuring your visit to Mars is a long and enjoyable one.  For a more in depth look at the multiplayer; see our hands on with Red Faction at the THQ LAN event in London.  The wrecking crew mode sees players inflicting as much damage as possible within a time limit or with limited ammo, and offers a quick blast of destructive mayhem.

Summary

Red Faction Guerrilla is a technical masterpiece in gaming.  It offers a huge map offering so much destructive fun, and plenty of varied side missions and things to do.  Providing you tackle the missions differently and mix it up a bit you won’t get bored anytime soon.  With the huge multiplayer experience on offer in addition to the epic campaign, you are certainly getting great value for your hard earned cash.

An essential purchase for anyone after a massive game with plenty to do. That is, once you have gotten over just how much fun blowing stuff up in this title really is.

Score: 8/10

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