Violation gets out of the hood for a fun filled sandbox adventure on the planet Mars. This third run in the Red Faction franchise offers up an ungodly amount of destruction making the player the ultimate one man wrecking crew. If you like the thought of driving a truck right through a building, jumping out into a massive firefight and then throwing explosives out like candy on Halloween, then your guilty pleasure has arrived. Detonators are primed, this is our review of Red Faction: Guerrilla.
Revisiting the Red Faction franchise, Violation finds themselves back on the surface of Mars for their third title in the series, Red Faction: Guerrilla. If you have played the first two games, Guerrilla brings you back to the firefight on Mars with the same emphaphis on destruction. While some features stay the same, fans of the original series might be a little taken back the perspective switch. Red Faction is no longer a first-person shooter with the strict linear gamepath. Taking the gun scoped vision away from the gamers has been traded for a third-person action adventure feel, and you know what? it works! "Guerrilla" is exciting as the first two entries, or even more so. Believe it or not, the third-person perspective fits perfectly in the destructive nature of the game giving up more freedom then before.
The most striking feature that "Guerrilla" has going for it is its pacing. You might have thought I would say the level of destruction... and sure that is nice, but really, "Guerrilla" really star is the pacing it sets. From the rocking close nit series that ramp up as you continue aggravating the opposing forces, "Guerrilla" rocks! So if you like action, get ready for a boost in your anxiety levels as you narrowly escape death objective after objective. Sure being a sandbox title means some exploration, the ability to choose your missions, and the freedom to play how you want. However, Violation does a good job keeping the pedal to the metal while focusing you towards the next mission.
Like Violation's other sandbox title, Saints Row, Violation wants their players to be constantly occupied with fast and furious gameplay without too much dialog and drama messing with the mojo.
One way they do this is by keeping your attention on the action by quick mission briefs, fast action, and large amounts of destruction. Missions can be quickly activated as you pick and choose how you want to advance the story. A certain number of mini-missions are available before you can advance to the more crucial missions. Clearing smaller objects might be labelled as a minor objective, but they can turn into wild chasing battles. Every mission has the ability and spontaneity to be more then you expected, making every mission exciting.
The plot revolves around the Earth Defence Force (EDF) who has taken up an oppressive role on the planet of Mars after it was terriformed to sustain human life. You play as Alec Mason, a miner who goes to work on the planet with your brother who is already knee deep in the red dust. After a turn of events you end up joining the guerrilla uprising that is working to free the colonies that live and work on Mars. Having a government supported faction taking their own brand of marshall law, Mason has a huge undertaking on his hands as he chips down the EDFs hold on the planet. This is your goal, liberation, which is broken down into six zones with their own grouping of main and minor missions.
A morale system also comes into play during the missions to help Mason take back the land. The more you bring down the EDFs control, the more the guerrilla fighters will step up and fight for you. This means more back up in firefights to make you job a hell of a lot easier. What else makes your job easier is your armoury of weapons that starts out with an ultimate destructive sledgehammer, machine gun, and remote mines, all the way up to rocket launchers. By the end of the game you should have unlocked most of the weapons to prepare yourself for any situation the enemy can throw at you.
The enemy A.I definitely has it moments when it seem ultra intelligent, then by the same right, they seem blindly punch drunk. Given the scope of the game, Violation has stepped up for the EDF Drones compared to their work with the gangs of Saints Row. Directly the enemy A.I. and their out numbering soldiers make Guerrilla quite difficult at times. It seems that about a quarter of the way through the game the difficulty really spikes. To combat this spike in difficulty you will need to buy a number of upgrades to keep your player one step ahead of his enemies. Earning cash to pay for these upgrades are done by gathering salvage which is found all over the map. Guerrilla is a little stingy on its cash given out, but this makes the game more challenging, and choosing the right upgrade, or new weapon more important. A few of the weapons are unpowered, and other a little more useful. My advice is to play a few rounds of multiplayer and test out each weapon in Red Faction: Guerrilla to see which ones you like the best.
Speaking of Multiplayer, it’s a blast. The matches might be a little small compared to other games, but the amount of backpack power-ups and destructible environments make it a unique challenge. From straight up Deathmatch battles, to more objectified modes, Red Faction: Guerrilla is always a good excuse to blow off some steam. Included in the multiplayer is an experience system that gives out points according to your performance online. This unlocks everything from new avatar icons to new skins and weapons. Fans of online multiplayer should check out Red Faction, you’ll be hard to find a more interesting Deathmatch going. Along with the online matches "Guerrilla" supports a mode called Wrecking Crew. This is a two player offline co-op mode that lets you trash up mars and get rewarded. All in all, Violation has done a great job expanding the games life span.
Now the aspect of the game that brought Red Faction to its fame is the level of destruction. In Guerrilla, Violation continues this trend of massive destruction which unleashes a sense of freedom that is liberating. In Guerrilla if you to get into an area and you don’t feel like shooting your way through the front door, make you entrance by ploughing through any structure. Walls are meaningless when Mason pulls out his sledgehammer, or decides to scrape up the paint job of one of the many off-road vehicles. If you want more methods to the mayhem use detonating mines, or the always trusty rocket launcher to bring a building to its bare structure, Explosions and destruction is super-fun and it never gets old.
The only complaint I have with the destructible environments in Guerrilla is that the structures have no weight and feel like your chipping away at cardboard. Seriously, Mason can smash through a wall and the physics will have the wall bouncing around, and bouncing off him. I have taken down a few walls in my day, and Red Faction is as far from reality as it gets. Not that I expected ultra realism here, but it would have been nice for the world have a little more substance.
Another aspect of Red Faction: Guerrilla that hurts its sandbox world is the dull inhabitants and diversity in the game space. It’s not like Violation didn’t try either, each section of Mars has its slight variations, but its nothing compared to other sandbox titles. To give them credit they did a great job on the art design of the weapons and vehicles giving them a rustic, road-warrior look. The lead character of Mason also looks great, and that’s about all the life you are going to siphon from the red rocks of Red Faction. The EDF and their Master Chief clones, and the general citizens needed a little more spice to draw us into the world. I’m not going to totally knock the graphic contribution in Red Faction, really, it runs at a solid framerate and looks as good as most next-gen titles, but its missing a little spice, annd detail in its mix.
Even though Red Faction: Guerrilla could have made a few changes and spiced up the game world, it is still a lot of fun to play through. With the multiplayer added into the mix you will likely get enough action out of Guerrilla until the next sandbox action game is released. I'm glad Violation returned to the Red Faction series, sci-fi open world shooters aren't too common in the marketplace. After all the super-hero styled sandboxed games, Red Faction: Guerrilla use of the red planet offers up something new for gamers to jump into. Rent, or Buy, you can't really go wrong picking up Red Faction: Guerrilla.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.10.09