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Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

4
  • X360
  • PS3

Who knew that blowing apart buildings, bridges, and other Martian structures could be so satisfying?


Mason surveys the landscape.
Mason surveys the landscape.
A healthy dose of satisfying destruction can really go a long way. In this case, the ability to destroy raises Red Faction: Guerrilla up from being a fairly standard open-world game with plain-jane missions and scattered optional tasks into something really special. When you round it out with an interesting Martian theme and factor in the game's solid multiplayer, the end result comes out feeling mostly great.

Guerrilla is the third game in the Red Faction line, and it's the first one to be released in quite some time. It opens with you, as miner Alec Mason, arriving on Mars to see your brother and put in some good, honest work. Before too long, your brother is dead and you've been sucked into a brewing rebellion with the rest of the Red Faction. The reds are fighting against the EDF--that's the Earth Defense Force--who seems to be pretty good at oppressing the labor class on Mars. Seeing as how they just gunned down your brother and you've narrowly avoided being their next victim, you quickly join up and start taking on tasks to slowly disrupt the EDF's control.

That control is region-based, with each region of Mars offering a number of tasks that can lower the level of control that the EDF has over a sector while also raising the morale of the people, inspiring them to fight at your side should you find yourself in a public battle. The control level is what gets you to accomplish side tasks, as you won't be able to liberate a region without first lowering the level of control below a certain threshold. Doing so unlocks the final mission for a region, which liberates it and moves the story forward to a new area. Most of the story missions are straightforward, though some of the longer ones start slow and end frantically. While the longer missions provide checkpoints, there were a couple of cases where I wished they had one a little closer to the tricky part.

There are plenty of ways to blow things up on Mars.
There are plenty of ways to blow things up on Mars.
The side missions in Red Faction: Guerrilla are broken up into categories, and each area has a few of each type. For me, the most interesting and fun missions were the ones where you ride around in a turret on the back of a car and have to destroy a bunch of EDF property while protecting your vehicle from damage. This one's great because it plays right into the game's destructive strengths. Others, like having to drive a car from point A to point B before time expires, or another that has you rescuing hostages from trigger-happy troops and returning them to safety, are decidedly less exciting. Here's another note for you completists out there. Upon finishing the 20 main story missions, the game dumps you back into the world and lets you clean up any remaining business, like side missions or finding collectibles. But it also makes many of those remaining missions harder than they would be normally. So you'll have an easier time if you completely clear out each sector one by one before liberating them.

Even though a lot of the single-player stuff in Red Faction: Guerrilla sounds a little boilerplate on its own, the end result is still a fairly exciting campaign. You'll purchase enough weapons and upgrades along the way to keep the new stuff coming, and there are enough side mission types around that you're almost guaranteed to enjoy at least one of them--and you don't need to do too many of them before unlocking an area's final mission. So it rarely feels like you're grinding it out just to move on. The weapons are satisfying and, well, you blow up tons of buildings along the way. It's the inclusion of a robust physics model that makes destroying structures so much fun. Everything behaves roughly as you'd expect, so taking out key points of a bridge's foundation, for example, is much more effective than just grabbing your hammer and punching random holes in the bridge itself. Seeing buildings collapse and watching smokestacks crumble, often falling onto other structures on their way down, is the game's most exciting feature.

Blowing things up is a key component of the game's offline multiplayer, a pass-and-play mode called wrecking crew. There are multiple minigames to play here, and all of them are centered on you taking one weapon into a small cluster of buildings and blowing them apart. Some give you limited time to blow up as much as possible, others give you limited ammo to force you to make every shot do as much damage as possible, and so on. It's a great showpiece for the game's destructible structures.

Oh yeah, there are also walkers. They don't move fast, but they tear up everything in their path.
Oh yeah, there are also walkers. They don't move fast, but they tear up everything in their path.
There's also a full-on competitive online multiplayer mode with Halo-style matchmaking. I'm of the mind that most open-world games that have tried to include competitive multiplayer haven't really worked out so well, so I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by Red Faction: Guerrilla. The multiplayer strips away the open world of the single-player in favor of tighter, more focused maps. The weapons from the single-player appear in some form, and you can also wear various backpacks that give you special abilities. The jet pack from the single-player game appears, as well as things like a vision pack that lets you see enemies through walls. Or a fleetfoot pack that makes you run super-fast when triggered. Or a stealth pack that makes you mostly invisible for short periods of time. I especially enjoyed the rhino pack, which unleashes a powerful forward charge when triggered, busting through walls in the process. The weapons, backpacks, and demolition-friendly buildings make the multiplayer modes--a mostly standard set of deathmatch, capture the flag, and other objective-based options--a lot of fun. The game also gives you a steady stream of unlockable characters and other objects as you gain online experience.

While there are clunky bits at the fringes of Red Faction: Guerrilla that give it a handful of frustrating or disappointing moments, the core moments of the game are exciting and well-conceived. Factor in a thrilling multiplayer component and the sheer satisfaction provided by the wholesale destruction of huge structures and you've got more than enough reasons to get your ass to Mars.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
Avatar image for binman88
Posted by Binman88

So upset I have to wait til August to play this on my PC.

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Posted by MeierTheRed

Nice review, i should have this game tomorrow. So its nice to know its not a total sausage fest.

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Posted by innacces14

Tried the demo. Frame rate was pretty good, but looks like a definite rent for me. Thanks, Jeff!

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Posted by Dudacles

Picking this up ASAP.

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Edited by theMcNasty

Did they add the ostrich hammer?  I was only going to buy it if they did.

UPDATE:  Yeah, the ostrich hammer from the April Fool's day prank is real.  Can't wait to pick this up.

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Posted by Scooper

I've been waiting for this review and it seems alot of the praise is for the multiplayer, which is what I had the most fun from both the demos. I probably will get it when the price goes down but I don't think I'm ready to jump into another multiplayer experience.

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Posted by RHCPfan24

I really want to get this game. From what the reviews have all said, it is well worth-playing.

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Posted by HawkSE

Cool. I have my money on Ghostbusters, but plan to get Red Faction here soon. We'll see how Prototype turns out. Here's hoping for a video review!

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Posted by Kraivyne

I should be getting my copy from Amazon in the next few days, I ordered it a few days ago because the online demo was so much fun.


Great review!
Avatar image for pie
Posted by Pie

What was wrong with it? He didnt say in the reveiw.

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Posted by xionpunk

Hmmm... have to get Prototype first, but I'll need to play me some more  Red Faction at some point. Yayuhhh

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Posted by JJOR64

I might have to check this game out now.  The beta was ok.

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Posted by Metal_Mills

I'm truly surprised at how well this game has been received. I'll review it on here when it comes out on PC(which sadly isn't now! :( )

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Posted by Death_Burnout

Who knew? I knew!

I just wish most of the fun buildings in the main game would respawn at somepoint...that stuff is too fun to experiment with.

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Posted by Carlos1408

I'm glad I ordered this game :)
Nice review Jeff!

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Posted by HatKing

I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.  It was made by the dudes who put together Saints Row so there is plenty of insanity in there, but the story is decidedly less insane.

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Posted by Milkman

The demo was a ridiculous amount of fun. I'll check it out.

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Posted by MagicKiwi

Spot on, Jeff. 

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Edited by darkjester74

Nailed it as usual Jeff, well done!

Avatar image for troyx
Posted by troyx

the multiyplayer is way too much fun in this game

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Posted by Crono

Jeff Gerstmann hits the nail on the head... and that nail's head shatters... thanks to geomod 2.0.

Great game.  Great review.  Great, pizza's here.

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Posted by wrecks

Good qucik review for a fantastic game! Both single and multi are bestowed a 5/5 from me. :)

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Posted by Kibblez

Nice review J-Pal. I started playing this tonight and think it's hella fun

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Posted by Media_Master

Blowing up Mars, one piece at a time

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Posted by cyrax
@Binman88 said:
" So upset I have to wait til August to play this on my PC. "
this
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Posted by JJWeatherman

Nice review. I definitely want to give this game a try.

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Posted by TomA

So many people thought this game would suck. I played the demo and told them otherwise, but they still kept on saying it was going to suck. Well BAM!!!!

Avatar image for giyanks22
Posted by giyanks22

Demo was meh..
Great review though jeff.

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Posted by CyberStarKZ

I'll give this a try

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Posted by Kohe321

Awesome, I guess I'll buy this then!

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Posted by Matt_

The review pointed out this game's strengths really well. On the surface this game wouldn't impress, but the sum of its parts(most notably the destruction) propel this game to greatness. It's just plain fun.

Avatar image for mrhankey
Posted by mrhankey

Well it seems cool. If i have some extra cash after buying college text books i'll get it....probably not though...maybe x-mas gift.

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Posted by Zarile3

I played the destruction mode with my wife and a friend yesterday. We played for 3 hours, and had a blast. Just using different weapons and testing things out. I rented it, but I have a feeling it's going to be a purchase. This game is a blast!

Avatar image for comradecrash
Posted by ComradeCrash

great review! I am still deciding between this and protype. I only need one open world game right now...

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Posted by Maxszy

Awesome review! Thanks for this! This made my decision to pick this up!

YAY DESTRUCTION!

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Posted by Bubahula

awesome review might pick this up :D

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Posted by TheWoj

I added this game to my GameFly queue when Jeff said it made a good first impression on Twitter, and I managed to get it the week it came out. That was probably the best decision I could have made. I am loving this game. I have played a ton of single player, and just played my first multiplayer matches tonight, and I'm definitely heading back to GF to click the "Keep It" button.

Avatar image for lind_l_taylor
Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

I tried the demo & thought this game sucked. It felt more like 2 out of 5 stars & felt kind of boring.  Is everyone seriously this happy with this game??

I'll wait to hear the sales figures.  If poor, then I'll look at it in the bargain bins later.


Avatar image for liam151
Posted by liam151
@ComradeCrash
 
if you have not decided weather to get red faction or Prototype, get prototype i have both and am enjoying prototype much more.
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Posted by rjpippin

This game looks amazing and I will probably rent it to see if I like even though the demo helps, you never know...

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Posted by daniel_beck_90

I am not sure whether to get this game or not .

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Posted by echo13791

I think it deserves more credit than it gets because of the multiplayer. It's really great. One of the best I've played in a while

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Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

This or Prototype?

Avatar image for phoenix778m
Posted by Phoenix778m

This game slipped right passed my radar  in 2009. So I'm a little late to the game but after playing a ton of Just Cause 2. I have to say that this game is even funner in it's own right. This review is dead on. If you missed out. This game is  only 20 bucks on XBOX Live.

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Posted by csl316

This game was amazing.  Why oh why did the Armageddon demo strip away all of the magic?