Red Faction: Guerilla

Posted on July 28, 2009

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Red Faction: Guerilla is the type of game holding immense potential. Futuristic setting on a different planet. Open-world environment. And the most destructible map I’ve ever seen. Pretty good start. But, that’s where it ends, really. A pretty good game. The developers at Volition stopped there, and didn’t fill in alot of the little things that could have really made this a hall of famer.

Blow Sh*t Up
It’s the 4th of July everyday on Mars. At least for the playable character it is. You are encouraged to blow up buildings and autos from start to finish, and there is a certain satisfaction every time you do it. So, for the one thing the game is built for, it has done well. But, so many things around that core concept were disappointing, that the game felt more like a fizzling bottlerocket than a celebration in splendid fireworks.

The missions were fun, in my opinion. Hostage rescues, defend and siege missions, time trials, and gunman missions cover the gamut, but a little repitition builds in. Plus, the main missions really didn’t have much distinction from side missions, which always leaves me feeling stuck in second gear.

The biggest problem with missions is not providing much strategy pre-deployment. You’re pretty much left to trial and error. More often than not I found out that there was a much easier and more fun way to do the mission, after I completed it with my own plan. If only somehow I knew there was a mech behind that wall to help my wreck all the buildings. Frick!

Empty As A Saloon on Mars
If you were holding Mars in the palm of your hand, what would you do? Volition apparantly thinks Mars is like Armadillo, Texas or any other dry, run down, boring region you could think of. The possibilities are immense. Views of the Sun or at least stars would have been nice. I don’t recall playing one second of the game at night, or day for that matter. It was reddish brown, all the time.

The towns and bases made for decent scenery, but the programmers must have forgotten to create background. I didn’t behold any mind-blowing or even neat landscapes and scenery, which is hard to swallow considering the age of gaming we’re in. And it’s Mars! Little green aliens. Dried up seas. Huge red mountains. [Sigh]

The game had the potential to take players through deep, deep ravines or over mountains, but instead everthing pertinent to the missions is done on flat ground.

That’s not to say there aren’t ravines or mountains, because there are quite a few. But travelling off-road is torture and sadly a waste of time. I expected some sort of Mass Effect-like missions where you could uncover some materials for objectives, but there wasn’t much offered in that department besides the M.O.A.D. locations. M.O.A.D. makes big explosions, which helps when you, ehh, blow things up. But, finding them is tedious, and flat out not worth it. And that wraps up exploring.

Combat
I won’t be too hard on the combat. It was very remniscent of Grand Theft Auto IV…just throw in crumbling buildings. The weapons were cool. I liked electrocuting, hammering, and blowing faceless military personnel to smitherenes. But, the caveat here is the volume of enemies. They *never* stop coming. So, if you tactfully invaded a base and started your demolitions mission, after the first blast, or even after the first bullet was fired, you will not be able to beat the enemy. Main missions do this weird thing where the enemies all of a sudden disappear and your danger level erases after the objective is completed, but in side quests this doesn’t happen. And if you want to play for more than 8 hours, you will play many more side missions than main quests. Here, you will be pummeled by wave after wave of newly spawned enemies until you run away. Now, I know it’s a guerilla game. Heck, it’s in the title. But if I want to stick around for a firefight, what’s wrong with that? No game should have infinite enemies…that is self defeating. I finished more missions by dying and respawning at my base rather than actually walking or driving out alive.

Thankfully, the save system is pretty solid. If you complete a mission and die after, auto-save keeps the building in rubble. Load times are annoying, especially if you get in a lot of firefights (cause you will die, alot). But, at least you don’t have to re-do too many missions.

Online
I can’t figure out if this game is an online game or a story mode game. Both have appeal, but both kind of fall short. The backpacks in the online matches are fun enough and there are good game types available. It seems that everyone has more health than me, for some reason. Maybe that’s just me being a neubie. Or, maybe the story mode soured my tastes enough.

Not Exactly Shakespeare
Speaking of story mode, I don’t think it exactly deserves that phrasing. The story is so empth and the characters are dreadfully ill-composed that you don’t really care if you character is crushed by a falling building except for the fact that there’s a long load time after. The supporting cast, I don’t remember a single one of them. The main villain, I don’t know him either. I do know that I blew up his buildings though. I hope he *was* the bad guy, now that I think of it.

In any event, Red Faction: Guerilla is an okay game, if you haven’t gotten that impression yet. There’s lots of room to improve, but and I would probably pony up the cash to buy the sequel to see if they beef up the game a bit more.

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Posted in: Op-Ed