Red Faction: Guerrilla released in 2009 to good reviews with all the same criticisms: weak storyline, graphics and voice acting. Personally, I loved it – it’s still one of my favourite games of the generation, and that’s down to one thing; blowing sh*t up.
Now excuse me for a second and let me indulge the less artsy side of my appreciation for gaming: I love blowing sh*t up. I go into a lot of games that have a whole host of different types of sh*t, and I then proceed to attach some sort of explosive to that sh*t and make sure it ends anywhere other than where it started – often multiple places.
I have no delusions that the reason I love games like Modern Warfare is the storyline. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline in Modern Warfare was great, along with most of the rest of game, but what made the game really stand out was the spectacle. That’s pretty much fancy-talk for blowing sh*t up.[drop]What Modern Warfare, its many sequels, its copy-cats and its homages all missed, however, was destruction. Whilst Battlefield: Bad Company 2 had destruction elements it was merely panels in walls that you could blow open until eventually the building just took pity on you and collapsed, and Battlefield 3 improved upon that slightly.
Red Faction: Guerrilla? Probably the most detailed destruction physics this side of real life. Girders come out of walls, chunks of reinforced stone burst apart, buildings fall apart under their own weight if they’re damaged in the right places and it all generally looks realistic.
Well, perhaps realistic is stretching it a bit. The buildings come apart too easily to be realistic, I feel it would be a little more difficult to tear through an entire building with a sledgehammer were I to attempt it on my house, and the top half of a building can sometimes be held up by a single metal girder connecting it to the ground, but little niggles such as these are easy to overlook when presented such destructive power.
One of my favourite moments in any game of this generation came from Guerrilla. I had just unlocked the nanorifle in single player, which is a gun that dissolves the small area around which it hits, and had found myself a very large bridge. I took my nanorifle under the bridge and simply shot a few of the supports. I waited for a couple of seconds and listened to the creaking, then watched as the bridge fell apart under its own weight.
It was magical, something that dumbfounded me – genuine physics. Not just environmental bits being thrown around, but a structure falling apart after the removal of key supports. That is brilliant.[drop2]Another huge plus for RFG was the competitive multiplayer. It took the destructible buildings and all the wonderfully destructive weaponry and let you use it against other people, then mixed in backpacks. Things like stealth camouflage, jetpacks, rhino (charge through walls) and thrust (shoots you upwards through anything that might be above you) had you sneaking up on people and de-cloaking before smashing them with a sledgehammer, or just charging through the wall at them with rhino. Is there a sniper on the top floor of that building? Get under him and use thrust to remove the building from under him, sending him flying. Don’t fancy any of those? Then just blow up the damn building.
It might seem like a shallow feature, but it’s actually deceptively ingenious. It offered tactics that you can’t find elsewhere. Who needs doors when you can simply make your own archways in the side of buildings? Want to kill the guy inside? Go through the wall, or thrust through the ceiling, or bring the building down.
The destruction elements in RFG are so good that I am genuinely amazed that they haven’t been used/ripped off in other games. You might need to toughen them up if you want realism, but can you imagine Modern Warfare with the ability to just blast through walls with your explosives? Buildings collapsing and holes appear in walls without any sort of scripting needed?
It’s a pipe dream, perhaps, but one I will continue to hold dear to my heart. If I can get a realistic FPS with RFG-style destruction physics I will be the happiest person in the world. Meanwhile, you can get the game from Steam for £15 and from OnLive at the same price, or £10.49 if you’re a PlayPack subscriber. System requirements are through the link.