It's hammer time
Title: Red Faction: Guerrilla
Release: June 2, 2009
Genre: 3 Person Shooter
Developer: Volition Inc.
Platform: Xbox 360
Rating: M (Mature)
The Red Faction franchise has had to struggle with an identity crisis for many years. The original PS2 title was a first-person shooter set on the planet Mars that emphasized destructible environments as not only a graphical feat but as a game play mechanic. Red Faction 2 was a departure from the original by focusing more on action and faster pacing while sacrificing story and originality. Red Faction: Guerrilla overhauls the game play to fit into a modern game archetype and fully realizes the potential of destructible landscapes.
Your character, Mason, arrives on Mars in search of a fresh start. With the help of his brother, he becomes unwittingly involved in a radical group known as the Red Faction who are devoted to ending the oppression of the powerful imperialist empire. The presentation is shallow in terms of story, character design and aesthetics. You always find yourself surrounded by the same reddish-brown canyons and desolate deserts. The characters feel generic and never come close to developing a lasting impression after the game is turned off. These characteristics are usually minor in a shooter, but it would have given the game a much needed shot of personality. The sound nails the creaking and thundering of falling debris but the music fades into the background too often.
What ultimately set this game apart from other shooters are its destructible environments which are used to great effect. Buildings crumble as you detonate well placed explosives and topple key structures with your sledgehammer. From the moment you are given control of Mason, you will not be able to stop smashing everything. It is pure, unfiltered, dumb fun. After the initial high wears off, however, you will quickly discover that this is all the developer planned for you to do. Red Faction is designed like Grand Theft Auto in the sense that you explore an open-ended world filled with side quests and challenges. As you complete story missions, the game progresses into new territories and the world gets larger. The missions tend to involve driving to a location, blowing up a structure and then upgrading your equipment for the next mission.
The game sacrifices AI for the environments which makes combat uninteresting and predictable. In most cases, your hammer is better suited for combat than your machine gun. When your gun is equipped, you are able to use cover a la Gears of War, but this is just silly if you can plow through walls with an unexplained super human strength and crush whoever is behind said cover. Mason can actually demolish an entire factory by himself with a sledgehammer. Destroying an old picnic table with a sledgehammer in real life takes forever but Mason can clear a whole city in a matter of hours. Multiplayer is somewhat interesting with bizarre backpack power-ups scattered about that grant abilities such as flight, health regeneration, shockwaves and speed. These abilities are effective and look cool but we have seen these before in older multiplayer death matches. You do gain experience and ranks that unlock extra content which add some additional replay value.
There is one question that pops up many times while playing Red Faction: Guerrilla. Who wanted a new Red Faction game? Obviously, there was some unfinished business regarding destructible environments, but why not develop a new franchise instead of reconfiguring an old, forgotten game—an old forgotten game that lacked any personality or memorable content. If the original Red Faction was so worthy of sequels, why would the developers change practically everything about them with each following title? The whole universe presents itself as serious but ends up looking gimmicky and clichéd. Red Faction: Guerrilla is a fun game that offers only few days of enjoyment.
Overall Rating: * * ½ / 5
M. Michael Chwedyk "The Gamekok"- MuzikReviews.com Sr. Video Game Reviewer
June 7, 2009
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