A guilty pleasure of a game
Red Faction: Guerrilla developed by Volition, Inc. and was released in 2009. The game is an open world third person shooter with a heavy focus on its destructable buildings physics. The story takes place on Mars and puts the player into the role of Alec Mason, who after the death of his brother, joins the Guerrilla forces to fight against the oppressive Earth Defense Force.
The core of Red Faction: Guerrilla is its physics engine, that not only allows the regular pushing around of boxes, but makes whole buildings completely destructible. If there is a wall, the player can punch a hole in it. If enough walls are gone, the whole building will come crashing down. The rest of Guerrilla is build around those abilities with by far most mission requiring the player to take out an EDF outpost or a specific building to gain more control over an sector. If the player has gained enough control by destroying EDF forces, new areas will unlock and new missions will become available. Other mission types including things such as bringing back captured vehicles to a home base or helping other guerrilla forced to fight back an EDF attack. The amount of control the player has over an area will decide how much guerrilla support he will get and if enough control is gained, guerrilla forces will join the fight.
The core weapon of Red Faction: Guerrilla is a large sledge hammer, it can be used to smash buildings as well as for melee attacks against enemies, it is extremely powerful and will smash through almost anything, with the only downside being its range. Other weapons include remote activated mines, rocket launcher, assault rifles and a nano rifle that will spray a cloud of nanites and eat away parts of a building. Weapons are acquired and upgraded by collecting salvage that is left behind by destroyed buildings and other environmental objects. Vehicles do not only provide a way to get around, but can also be used as weapons, as can take out large chunks of a building when driving into it at full speed.
The story in Red Faction: Guerrilla takes the backseat, it almost exclusively presented via a few rare cutscenes spread over the course of the game, rarely do story and gameplay intersect, as most of the game is spend on generic destruction instead of specific story driven missions. This is also noticeable in some mission types that don't really bother with story continuity, one mission type for example requires the player to destroy a building under a time limit with a limited supply of weapons, this is not justified by any kind of story, but just presented to the player as essentially a little puzzle to solve, as it is not always obvious how to cause enough damage with the limited weapons and the time limit. Another mission type requires destroying a specific number of EDF vehicles via a mech, the mech just spawn in whenever such a mission type is started without explanation and once the mission is finished, the EDF forces will simply vanish without explanation. Rules that require you to shake off enemy forces do exist in the game, but are simply suspended for that mission type.
One small little, but interesting aspect, in Guerrilla is how it handles the Grand Theft Auto like car theft, as here the player doesn't just pull the people out of their cars, but instead they hand their vehicle over by themselves. This simple twist makes it clear that one is fighting for the people not against them and while they might not join the Guerrilla, they at least will support it.
Overall Red Faction: Guerrilla is a very enjoyable game. The story never elevates beyond background noise and is has a few weird bugs such as your college has different hair color in cutscene then she has in the game, but the amount of dynamic the destruction allows is quite immense. All the destruction on buildings feels authentic and dynamic, there are no obvious pre-scripted breaking points in the geometry and everything will fall like one would expect. Chipping away a part of a large chimney will make it topple over to that side. The destruction however isn't very realistic as all the buildings essentially feel like they are build out of Styrofoam and the basic hammer will smash through almost any wall without issues. The dynamic destruction is also limited to the buildings alone, the terrain itself is static.
The difficulty of the game is a bit on the toughed side of things, as it can get rather chaotic when trying to destroy a building under enemy fire and a few seconds out of cover can also cause your death. The game however allows switching the difficulty at any point and thus one can just switch to a lower one when one enjoys the destruction more then the fighting.
Over the course of the game I ran into a few technical issues. The physics engine would regularly glitch out and go into a state where things would behave a little weird, the players character jacket would always fly off to one side and the performance would degrade. The game however still be basically playable in that state. Restarting the game fixed that, but it happened quite frequently.
In the end it really is a guilty pleasure game, what it lacks in narrative power, it makes up in shearer chaos and destruction and it keeps things entertaining for the around 13h it takes to beat it.