By hsvlad 2 Comments
1001 Videogames I must play before I die!
No.0025 Red Faction: Guerrilla
Red Faction: Guerrilla (RFG) is one of those games that has more potential then it manages to deliver on. There are a lot of games like that, but there are few where the key to success was either going completely crazy or even more serious then it currently is. The potential in RFG comes from its famous destruction system, and it is well deserving of that fame. It is easily the best system of its kind ever implemented into a game, the trouble is the game that surrounds it can't really make its mind up about what it wants to be.
Now that isn't to say that RFG isn't a good game, but there is a great deal of conflict between what the player will want to do and what the player character wants to do. The game sets itself up as a serious, gritty piece about rebellion and insurgency. The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter could have been an interesting topic for a game to tackle, particularly seeing as RFG came out right just as the occupation of Iraq began to quite down. Science fiction has often been a medium that looks at current issues, disguising them with a futuristic setting. Sadly that doesn't happen, the occupying Earth Defense Force (EDF) are cartoonishly evil and never show any side other then being dick holes. There is no way there could be any kind of ambiguity here. The first thing they do is kill the protagonists brother, dutifully freeing Mars from his stupid facial hair. Seriously, a chinstrap AND a pencil mustache?
The other side face of RFG comes as a result of the great destruction engine. You want to, and can, break anything. The game is more then happy to give you the tools to do that too. To start with, you have to make do with just your hammer and some mining charges but they are almost all you need. You'll get more interesting, explodey toys as you go but you always carry your hammer and, if you have any sense, the mining charges too. So you go nuts, and there is no penalty for death besides perhaps failing your current mission. But if you were just wondering around breaking stuff, which you probably were, you'll respawn right back at the nearest Red Faction hideout. Because there is no real penalty for dying, you quickly find yourself adopting suicide tactics, covering a car in charges and plowing it into an EDF building. It's so easy when there are no repercussions. I heard someone say it would have been interesting if the player respawned as a different, random miner each time they died, as a way of showing some kind of permanence, and I think that is a really cool idea.
Despite being a bit schizophrenic in tone, RFG is great fun. One small thing that I want to point out are the vehicles. There is nothing all that special about them but it was really cool to play an open-world game like this that, because of its sci-fi setting, had to design a whole range of completely original cars and trucks. I would love to see another Red Faction game. I've not played Armageddon and probably wont until I find it cheap. Which is a shame, because as much as I love Saints Row The Third, I do like it when Volition try to take things seriously, even when they don't pull it off quite right. If you've not played RFG before you really need to. Even just the demo, so you can understand how much of a game changer the destruction system is.
I had planned on putting together a quick video together showing RFG with its unlockable cheats turned on but it requires a completed save game to use them. I have that for the 360 version, but no way to record the footage. Which is a shame because when you turn on invincibility, super sprint, super jump and super hammer the game suddenly turns into a beautiful prototype for the BEST SUPERHERO GAME YOU COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE!!!!