Red Faction: Guerrilla
|a game by||Volition, Inc.|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 3|
|User Rating:||4.7/10 - 3 votes|
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|See also:||Third-Person Shooter, Red Faction Series, Destruction Games|
Breaking things is fantastic fun. There's a place you can go (in America, would you believe) where they let you write words like "wife'', "mortgage" and "lifetime of guilt" on crockery before flinging it at a wall. It exists because destruction on any scale is cathartic, spectacular and satisfying. That's why we have vandalism, and that's also why a man threw a brick at your window last Tuesday. He no doubt found it thrilling, and the fact you couldn't just enjoy the sound of smashing glass waking you at 3am says more about your joyless personality than it does about the funloving, masonry-tossing man.
Up until now, games have struggled to properly emulate large-scale building destruction in a believable way, and then go on to marry that sort of technology with a proper game. Red Faction: Guerrilla can claim to have done that. And though the free-roaming, missionbased side of things has its downsides, the technology Volition have managed to cram into their engine is honestly groundbreaking. Although, ironically this is the first game in the Red Faction series in Which the ground itself isn't breakable. Instead, everything else is.
Mars has been terraformed, and despite the harsh weather and wild variations in atmospheric conditions (dusty bits, grassy bits, snowy bits, all conveniently demarcating the game world's zones), everything the colonists have put up appears to be built of sponge cake and Styrofoam.
If it's not part of the terrain, you can take your sledgehammer to it and reduce it to rubble. Right clicks carry out vertical swings, left clicks handle the horizontal swipes, together they allow for an almost surgical level of control when destroying the Martian scenery.
Remove lower walls and the upper levels will come thundering down to the dusty red dirt or carefully dismantle one end of a bridge and the weakened structure will no longer take the weight of a vehicle attempting to cross it.
The physics engine is constantly toiling away in an effort to determine exactly when a building should stop being upright, and in cases where it needs a second or two to figure out all the weights and masses and torques involved, it covers for its delay by having the screen shake and the entire structure emit a pained, clunking groan.
And when buildings do decide to topple, they look and feel just as they should. They might come apart like Ritz Crackers beneath your hammer, but they come down like the tonnes of concrete they are, the deafening sounds and billowing smoke nailing the feeling that, yes, you have just wrecked something good and proper.
And that's terribly impressive. Much of the game is built around this clever technology, with many of Red Faction's weapons purposefully designed to wreck things - such as the sticky bombs which can be detonated simultaneously for a controlled demolition, or the as-unimpressive-as-it-sounds magic gun that simply melts away parts of the scenery in a yellow fizz.
Rocket launchers deliver a means of completing many missions from afar, while the more staid portion of your armoury - the pistols, rifles and shotguns - are reserved for seeing off the Earth Defense Force troops who will doggedly pester you throughout your time on Mars.
The EDF are the antagonists, the heavy-handed off-worlders who've driven the miners of Mars to rebellion. Your antics as part of the Red Faction affect their control over the game's six areas, as well as the morale of the Martian population. Ostensibly, EDF killing sprees and the destruction of their propaganda increases morale. This in turn increases the chances of rebels joining you in fights against the EDF, while accidentally running over civilians rolls backs the mileage on your morale-o-meter.
Destroying EDF buildings and carrying out missions for the rebels decreases EDF influence jn that area. Once they've lost control, a final rebel mission punts the storyline into the next area of Mars, and the process continues unabated.
The open-world slant means you'll be hijacking improbable looking sci-fi motors to get to your objectives, the routes to which are highlighted by a pleasing trail of yellow arrows along the road. The reduced gravity of the setting (38% that of Earth, space fans) coupled with the binary input of your keyboard's A and D keys will conspire to ruin the driving experience time and time again. Even on a pad the vehicles feel punishingly flimsy, with some criminally unavoidable driving sections serving only to infuriate.
And that's just the tip of a pile of problems Red Faction: Guerrilla has hidden behind its technological destructo-tricks. Separately these problems are niggling, but on many occasion a mission will draw all of Red Faction: Guerrilla's foibles into one hideous celebration of wrongness.
The enemy Al is at times atrocious, and once the alert system (itself a baffling work of nonsense) decides you've aggrieved the EDF sufficiently it will send endless numbers of soldiers after you, spawning them from wherever it pleases. From behind rocks, underneath cars, hatching out of eggs and popping up out of books - if you're caught without a vehicle for sanctuary you're as good as dead.
Even worse, enemies in vehicles will do their utmost to bring about your death swiftly. Where other open-world games force the enemy to stop their cars, get out and fire at you from a distance, Red Faction: Guerrilla's bunch will more often than not attempt to park on your face. By the time multiple cars begin to literally pile on top of you, the lunacy of the Al will have you gritting your teeth in frustration.
Gun combat generally feels unsubstantial too, especially in contrast to the building-ruining hammers and bridge-levelling explosives.
With the driving and the shooting feeling as wonky as they do. Red Faction: Guerrilla might appear to be not much more than an impressive physics engine plastered around a hollow game, but redeeming factors come at you thick and fast.
The smaller, optional missions dotted about the game world are often incredibly inventive, in particular the ones which ask you to destroy a certain structure within a time limit, given limited ammunition. Some of these are puzzles in themselves, giving you, for example, one explosive barrel and two pistol rounds and tasking you with demolishing an entire tower. (The trick, if you're interested, is to chuck the barrel skywards and shoot it in the air, taking out the tower's weaker mid-section. Clever stuff.)
Elsewhere, the multiplayer segment plays to the game's destructive strengths. In typical team deathmatches, classes are defined by wearable backpacks you pick up on the map, giving you specific abilities - such as the one that allows you to sprint through buildings, Juggernaut style. Various other game modes see teams attempting to prevent opponents from destroying key buildings, or capture the flag in drastically changing, destructible maps. Removed from the Al and vehicle issues of the single-player game, and focusing on exactly what makes the game interesting, Red Faction: Guerrilla's multiplayer facet is perhaps the most enjoyable and unique online experiences we've had in months.
Back in single-player town, while Red Faction: Guerrilla regularly frustrates you'll find yourself inexorably drawn back to it Wrecking things is not only satisfying, but addictive too, and the erosion of EDF control through the destruction of their property provides an ample sense of progress throughout the game, allowing'you some freedom from the rigidity of the plot's missions.
The best moments you'll have in Red Faction: Guerrilla are those the developers haven't engineered for you, and the physics engine, even after hours of play, never ceases to impress. While the underlying game is lacking in some regards - in particular, I haven't come across any Total Recall references - the joy of breaking things apart with giant hammers really is enough to prop up any amount of dull shooting. A lack of triplebreasted ladies be damned.
Download Red Faction: Guerrilla
If You Know one thing about Red Faction, it's that it allowed you to dig huge holes in the deformable terrain and jump in them, condemning yourself to a subterranean existence for as long as it took to find the reset button. Red Faction 2... well, nobody played that, but Red Faction: Guerilla seems to be a logical offshoot of the destruction-focused shooter. Now, instead of deformable terrain, the guys at Volition are pioneering things with destructable everything (except terrain).
I'd only vaguely heard the rest of the Red Faction: Guerilla presentation -everything after the bit where the man from Volition said you can hit things with a massive hammer was a wordy blur. There was something about Mars, another bit where he said "open-world" a lot, and one part where he shot some blue lightning at a helicopter and everybody laughed. When the moment came to actually play the game, I dutifully grabbed a sledgehammer and headed for the nearest building. It could have been an enemy torture shack, it could've been a puppy orphanage, I honestly didn't care, and set to work dismantling the place. Red Faction: Guerilla's engine is satisfyingly impressive. If there's something you think it can't handle - say, smashing holes in either end of a bridge to see if the middle falls away - it'll do it, and it'll look more spectacular than you thought it would.
The roof of the building I was breaking collapsed as soon as I'd removed the supporting walls, blowing up the dune buggy contained within. You can keep on smashing the resulting bits too, breaking them down into smaller pieces, until you're wading through piles of rubble, punctuated only by a sorry looking, quest-vital engineering desk.
The title refers to a Martian rebellion, of which you're a sledgehammer wielding mercenary. Six linked open-world zones, from dust plains to icy, terraformed mountains, house missions - the story-based quests channel you through the main game, while side-quests keep you occupied and dole out upgrades, vehicles and weapons.
A morale system operates throughout these zones, and by keeping the populace happy (usually by not shooting them, not hammering their houses down, and blowing up propaganda billboards) they'll come to your aid more readily.
The game's cover system works around the destruction system. Take cover behind a wall and you can follow up with all the usual gumph, shooting blindly around corners and chucking grenades hither and tither. Have some of that wall blown away though, and the cover system intelligently reacts to the new environment ensuring your avatar won't attempt to hide behind the notoriously bullet-accommodating fresh air.
This sort of open-endedness fits far more comfortably with Red Faction than the linear corridors of old. Certainly it allows for wreckage on a larger scale, with later weapons using nanites to disintegrate objects at a molecular level. Demolecularise a few load-bearing struts of a 50ft tall sentry tower, and the structure will topple. Falling debris is deadly too, and Jenga fans with an eye for physics will be able to use buildings to crush their enemies.
Here's a game that knows its , strengths, offering up more and more ways to destroy the world Volition have thought of. Having spent uncountable amounts of money and time terraforming Mars, it's odd to imagine why its residents would make everything so fragile, but we're thankful for it.
Concerns lie with the current span of missions on offer - they're very much of the "kill this'' and "destroy these" variety, but Volition promise that plot-missions will become far more interesting once the player becomes accustomed to "breaking shit". Trust us, it doesn't take long to get to grips with.
Break Your Friends
'Multiplayer mode worth a boxout!' shocker
Red Faction: Guerilla's multiplayer arenas are dotted with backpacks, each offering a different skill. Fleetfoot will give you increased speed; Jetpack will cause magazines to patronise you by explaining that it gives you a jetpack; and Concussion will fire out an area of effect blast which blows enemies away.
Best of all, especially for anybody who saw Vinnie Jones' sublime performance in X-Men: The Last Stand, is the Rhino. This one allows you to charge through walls and people. Expect plenty of "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" taunts as you're smashed off cliffs and into oblivion.