When Red Faction: Guerrilla was released during the week of E3, it fell out of the public eye, subject to the over-powering news of the conference. Over the last few months, however, the game’s long tail at retail has been terrific, spurred by positive word of mouth and reviews. During an especially slow summer this has created a great fan-following for the open-worlder, and with enough time to dedicate to it I was able to spend some quality time on Mars.
The first thing I need to get off of my chest is that I don’t generally play games that are open world. Grand Theft Auto, Saint’s Row, even Fallout 3 leave me wandering aimlessly in giant environments. When I heard that RF:G was in the same genre, I was hesitant to give it a try. Looking back now, I’m extremely glad I did. The setting, Mars, is oddly just the right size. The sci-fi twist is terrific and well-executed. The visuals are crisp and understandable, easily. I found myself enjoying almost every aspect of the game.
– Destruction physics: Blowing things up is the major focus of RF:G. Watching them predictably fall is a reward unlike almost any other. Whether I used a sledgehammer, rocket, or mines, there was great satisfaction in watching an EDF (the empire-like oppressors and main antagonists of RF:G) tower collapse under its own weight because of my actions. My favorite method? Load up a cargo truck with bombs and drive it into a building, setting them off just as the truck hits the door. Yum! The realism of weak points, weld points, and strength areas of structures allows for physics to take effect predictably. Joy!
– Mission variety: While the variety of missions is good, the ability to complete them rather easily and quickly (after a few tries, in some cases) is enjoyable. In fact, the obsessive compulsive in me had me trying to complete every mission in each level, save for the transporter ones (I’ll get to that later). The missions are a nice diversion, especially when I feel like just blowing something up for a while.
– Multiplayer: While I personally would get my ass handed to me during multiplayer matches, I found them to be quite good and just the right length in time and in scope. Once again, variety is king here, as the game specializes in several unique modes to keep the gaming fresh. I would have liked to see more free-for-all and capture the flag modes, as some of the team-based play hardly had any communication between my teammates.
– Setting: Mars is a well-designed and terraformed world, apparently. The size of the open world is perfect. It isn’t time consuming or tedious to get from one end to another (especially thanks to warp points) which is something that other open world games don’t always have. The environment changes, even in color, depending on what section of the planet the character is currently in. The only thing missing was notable Mars landmarks: giant volcanoes and faces in the ground.
– Difficulty curve: While I was able to play much of the game in Normal difficulty, it ramps up extremely quickly towards the middle-to-end. I switched to Casual, and even then had a few issues on the final mission.
– Driving controls: I can understand that driving a truck or car on Mars wouldn’t be the same as here on Earth, yet that is no excuse for the overly-touchy, bouncy vehicle controls. I crashed, and crashed often. This kept me from enjoying the transporter missions (or any mission using a vehicle, really).
– Storyline: There is one? Kind of, I suppose. The game’s story is basic: avenge the death of your brother and save the planet. Nothing new, and nothing really exciting. The entire story can probably be completed within 6 hours, with the emphasis on the side missions to keep players engaged. There would be only one real story-telling session within each level, told through cut scenes, that would tie any semblance of a focus together. It’s basically mission, mission, mission with a couple cut scenes mixed in sparsely. More emphasis on story would have been welcome.
I really enjoyed RF:G. I can call it “awesome” at times, especially when I’m on a tower-destroying blitz through an enemy base. At other times it can be a bit tedious, especially with some of the side missions. However, not once did I yawn or get bored, or think of putting another game in. The amount of things to do is good enough to keep me full throughout the summer, and the DLC packs have only added onto the fun. This is a great game in a lead-up to an action-packed Fall gaming season, and one I recommend checking out.
Game: Red Faction: Guerrilla
Developer: Volition Games
Released: June 2009
Players: 1, Multi (offline alternating, online team-based)
Played on: XBox 360
All images and video courtesy THQ/Volition