THQ Lan Event: The Diary

An email from THQ arrives. Would we like to attend a THQ LAN (Local Area Network) event and get a hands on play test with Red Faction Guerrilla?  In true Fruit fashion, the answer was simple: Damn Right Skippy! So my camera man and driver – Tod, and myself were off to London.

Our arrival at the Victoria Plaza Hotel in London was a late one.  The London Underground had let us down, and with the event scheduled for a 7pm start, we were already 10 minutes late.  Outside the closed doors we stood and listened: “where is everyone?” we asked ourselves.  Luckily James Coad, a PR intern for THQ, came down to escort us back upstairs where an open bar and food was provided.  It turned out that the event had been delayed for an hour.  James and the PR team provided fantastic hospitality and we were grateful not to have missed anything.

After a couple of drinks and making new acquaintances, we head downstairs where the doors are now open and more beers provided.  Eager to meet people and get talking, we grab a beer and look for important looking people.

Bingo, a smart looking chap in front of the biggest screen in the room.  James introduces us to none other than Simon Watts, PR Manager of UK and Europe.  Simon begins to show us the multiplayer in action, Tod is already on the ball taking pictures of everything, and I’m set to fire off some questions and get any juicy info.

Whilst nailing opponents with startling efficiency, Simon talks about the sheer scope of the game.  Mentioning how it’s twice the size of Saints Row, a big game in itself, and that Red Faction Guerrilla has taken the best part of 4 years to develop.

What really impressed us was confirmation of persistent damage, with the map being so big; going back to a building you levelled hours ago and miles away is a really impressive feature.

When asked about the absence of crater creation or tunnelling through terrain, a feature that was available in the first two Red Faction games, Simon explained the reason behind this.  He talked about how the decision was made very early on, and how the destruction of a specific amount of natural surfaces and materials in the terrain could confuse the player as to why it wasn’t all destructible.  That the resources were better spent in making all man made objects and materials destructible and more detailed.

This, to me, makes sense.  As a fan of Red Faction, I can honestly say I understand the decision for more detail and better physics surrounding the man made elements of the terrain.  When you plough through a building and witness it collapsing and folding under stress, you’ll be thankful for the resources being thrown into making that level of detail possible.  Blowing holes in hills or ripping apart a security tower with tonnes of debris and carnage?  I’d choose the latter for sure.

We are told this game pushes both consoles to the limit, and the technology will be used in future titles.  Having witnessed the level of destruction and being told about the calculations involved in achieving that level, we were simply stunned.

Having already taken up a good chunk of his time, we thank Simon and let others hound him for information.

We move to a vacant spot to test the game, and begin destroying buildings and wasting opponents.  The game is so much fun, going into stealth and whacking foes with the sledgehammer, and playing a custom match with rockets, infinite ammo and a level full of bridges.  Five minutes into the game, tonnes of debris lying in our wake and this game becomes an essential purchase.  All worries about the shift from first person to third person are laid to rest, and I’m already excited about arranging TSA matches for release.  The confirmation of the rail gun making a return was very pleasing on the ears, as it a weapon that stands out in the Red Faction titles.

After an extensive play test, we are introduced to Sean Kennedy – Associate Producer.  When asked about the physics, Sean mentions how happy he is with the Geo-Mod 3.0 tech powering all the mayhem.  Going into detail about how you can take out two buildings in the tutorial with just a couple of well placed explosives.  Using common sense and strategic positioning of the explosives, you can destroy the relevant supports on one building, and with the real time stress calculations; that building could topple into the second building next to it, effectively halving the effort required to drop both.

The technology behind this game is fantastic, and both Sean and Simon confirmed this tech is at least five years ahead of anything any other competitor has.  Sean goes on to mention a building could take damage but not actually collapse until 30 minutes later.  A video with an overlay revealing numbers on all the individual stress points, calculated every second, demonstrates just how much detail has gone into the physics for this title.

It becomes apparent that the physics and games destruction was the core focus in this game.  Sean reveals that towards the end of production, they began to squeeze even more out of the technology, and are rightfully proud to surpass their own expectations.  With the game looking polished, on top of the stunning destructive gameplay, these guys have every right to be proud.

When probed for information on future downloadable content, Sean mentioned that dlc is being worked on, and it won’t just be your average DLC.  Also revealing that there are currently around 200 unlockables, and that the Ostrich hammer is the second to last item you can unlock.  If you see anyone with an Ostrich hammer – approach them with caution as they are most likely a seasoned veteran.

The event was fantastic! Having the opportunity to play Red Faction Guerrilla and get some questions answered is greatly appreciated.

We would like to thank Simon Watts, Sean Kennedy, James Coad, Sam Forest and Lee Wilson for their time and hospitality.  It was a pleasure meeting you all, and we look forward to the release of this superb title.

Read our full Hands On with Red Faction here.