Do you like blowing stuff up? Do you like running round an open world and smashing buildings to bits with a sledgehammer? Do you wish that you could drive the APC from Aliens right through enemy buildings and out the other side? If the answer is yes to these questions, then you’re going to love Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered.
Within the first few moments of the game your brother is executed and it’s left up to your character, Mason, to avenge his death and free the people of Mars from the tyrannical Earth Defense Force. Joining the resistance, the Red Faction, Mason must liberate the red planet by stealing things, rescuing prisoners, shooting bad guys, and destroying almost everything he can find. The story is really quite good; it’s concise and snappy, perhaps because all the original cut scenes had to fit on an Xbox 360 DVD. However, the cutscenes themselves have not been re-rendered for the new version, so look rather fuzzy and dated.
The game world is also surprisingly large, featuring six districts, each with their own colour pallete and vehicle types. There are four or five main missions which you need to complete in each area to liberate it from the EDF, and loads of side missions including challenges to destroy a building with only limited tools, or hijacking a vehicle and racing it back to base before a timer expires. You will need to complete quite a few of the side missions, as these reward you with valuable scrap that you will need to upgrade your weapons and armour. Tackling the story missions before you have the firepower is suicide.
Unless specifically stated, the missions have no rules and so you can tackle them any way you like. For example, I was tasked to locate and hijack a large loader robot locked in a hangar, but found the EDF camped outside the garage and very keen on shooting me as soon as I arrived. Attempts at an full frontal assault were failing, so I decided hijack a large lorry from a nearby road and smash through their barricade, forcing the EDF to dive for cover. As the EDF picked themselves up off the ground, I jumped out of the lorry, ran round the back of the hangar, fashioned a new entrance using my sledgehammer, jumped in the loader and used it burst out of the hangar doors and stamp on everyone I could find.
Completing missions reduces the EDF’s influence in the area and also improves morale in the resistance. If you have a good morale score then the population of Mars will join you in any battles, while a lower morale means you are on your own. Collecting scrap unlocks new weapons and upgrades, as well as a fast travel system between bases which soon becomes essential as the play area opens up. The mission types do repeat and are rather basic compared to modern games, but they’re always fun and occasionally include puzzle elements. The difficulty ramps up quite quickly even if you are playing the game on easy mode, to the point that running in all guns blazing will lead to a very quick death. To stay amongst the living, scouting an area is essential, noting where the EDF forces are stationed and possible weak spots in buildings.
You can drive all of the vehicles in the game, which range from buggies, buses and taxis, to armoured tanks and best of all, a version of the Power Loader from Aliens. This nippy little beast has rotating arms and you can slice through huge buildings like butter. It’s immensely satisfying to run full speed in an enemy base, carve through their defences then run off again.
The destruction engine used in the game still holds up well. When you are smashing things apart, it does look like the structures are crumbling around you rather than just vanishing. Combined with the physics engine, you can create spectacular acts of mass destruction, dropping towering chimneys on enemy bases or planting explosives at the base of a huge bridge and watching gleefully as it crumbles beneath the wheels of an EDF convoy.
The game has been remastered – sorry, re-Mars-tered – so it now runs in 4K and runs at 60fps on PS4 Pro, although the frame rate did dip once or twice while I was playing. Textures have been improved, as has the lighting, and although Mars landscape can feel quite empty that does seem appropriate. However, when you do drive through an area that has grass, it’s clear that it’s appearing just a few metres ahead of your vehicle. Similarly, you can occasionally see the range of the game’s draw distance, as mountains in the background simply appear our of nowhere. Current gen consoles really should be able to handle a much bigger draw distance, so why this hasn’t been tweaked in the remaster is a bit of a mystery.
Unfortunately the gunplay has not aged well. Any of the weapons that require precise targeting are a pain in the neck to use as there’s no option to aim down sights. The weapons choice is limited by today’s standards, and contain the usual fare of shotguns, auto rifles, and rocket launchers along with a couple exotic weapon types – my favourite is the electro-gun which fires off bolts of electricity to frazzle the enemy. Though the game does come with the original’s multiplayer, packed with maps and game modes, I’ve not yet managed to find anyone to play against.
If you’re a fan of Just Cause or Saint’s Row, then Red Faction Guerrilla might well tickle your fancy. In the days of sprawling open world titles with hundreds of missions tied together with awful stories, the simplicity of this game makes a welcome change. Violence is not big, hard, or clever, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. Red Faction Guerrilla Me-Mars-tered is the remaster no one was asking for, but has turned out to be a welcome surprise.
Version tested: PlayStation 4 – Also available on Xbox One & PC