An unusual, explosive type of Mars
In developer Volition’s Red Faction: Guerrilla, the world is your destructible oyster. While there’s a sense of adventure to be gotten from exploring a colonized Mars, the sense of mayhem from wreaking havoc upon hundreds of different structures, vehicles, and of course people, is the primary factor here. Even though a less-than-engaging story and boring mission structures bog it down, Red Faction: Guerrilla is a sandbox stress-ball of a third-person action game which offers both exciting single player and multi player modes.
Your character Alec Mason is a member of a secret organization called Red Faction, whose objective is to weed out the all powerful Earth Defence Force (EDF) on Mars by liberating six sectors. Alec doesn’t have much stake in the organization – he’s only recruited because his brother, a member of Red Faction, is murdered – and his goal is one of revenge. The plot rarely progresses as you blow your way through the enormous amount of missions, so it tends to fade into the back drop and feels like an afterthought.
But that’s okay, because as aforementioned, Red Faction: Guerrilla’s main feature is the ability to annihilate your environment. Whether it’s a tiny news booth or a gigantic vehicle hangar, it can be destroyed in a variety of ways. Although you’ll have access to an assortment of guns, the most satisfying method of madness is often the trusty sledgehammer. Watching the intricate crumbling of buildings and hearing the pounding of your hammer delivers an immense amount of thrill, and you’ll most likely be reserving a good portion of the game just to tear through Mars and leave your mark.
Other than smashing your environment, you’ll be battling the oppressive legions of the EDF throughout different missions. What separates these battles from that of a mediocre third-person shooter are the dynamic uses of vehicles and explosives. For example, you can ram a truck into an EDF base then explode their energy supply with a slew of grenades, leaving the EDF senseless. Still, there’s a bit of decision making involved when pitted against a large number of EDF, and often you’ll need to utilize cover and flank them strategically in order to reduce their numbers.
Surprisingly enough, not everything is used in an unorthodox fashion in Red Faction: Guerrilla. The vehicles, which range from Smart Car like buggies to mammoth mech walkers, are the main modes of transport, and rarely will you find yourself having to travel on foot. The freestyle physics of the game compliment the vehicles’ handling, making driving entertaining and a definite high point.
With respect to the scale of the environment, Red Faction: Guerrilla has some boring patches. Exploring Mars, there’s a lot of rock and not a whole lot of civilization, and in general the environment carries an unrefined feeling especially after hours of playing the single player game. Similarly, the missions tend to be redundant, and there really are only two unique types: ambush an EDF territory, or capture something from within an EDF base. The missions themselves aren’t boring per se, but once you find yourself doing them over and over it’s not unlikely to grow tired of the process.
Thankfully, the multi player mode supplied in Red Faction: Guerrilla is more than enough to remedy the potential boredom of the single-player. Typical deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture-the-flag modes are available, but there’s a twist: ten types of backpack power-ups are scattered throughout the map, and you need to find one and equip it if you want to succeed. Some backpacks offer practical benefits, such as the stealth backpack which allows you to be invisible for a period of time, but others, such as the rhino backpack which gives you the ability to smash head-first into anything, are just plain fun and really mix up the multi-player experience.
Red Faction: Guerrilla is not without its flaws, but the invitation to engage in sweaty-palmed, explosive action more than makes up for its dud of a storyline and tedious missions. And whether you smash stuff and whip grenades at bad guys online or off, there’s something to be said about the degree of destruction obtainable in Red Faction: Guerrilla. This is a terrific version of Mars that you’ll want to blow up immediately.