Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

by on June 8, 2009

Game: Red Faction: Guerrilla

Developer: Volition Inc

Publisher: THQ

Available on: Xbox 360 and PS3 (Reviewed on PS3)

STORY: Red Faction: Guerrilla takes place on Mars in the year 2128, where an organisation called the Earth Defense Force (EDF) are the bad guys. They have started taking people against their own will and forcing them to work in mining camps, all for their gain. You take the role of Alec Mason, a former miner, who rebels against the EDF and joins the newly formed Red Faction. His reason for joining the faction is one I won’t reveal here but needless to say it is rather cliche. In fact, the entire story is rather forgettable, it tries to be epic but fails in every aspect. The major plot points are all weak and fail to get any sort of positive reaction. There are some minor references to the previous games, so if you’re a fan of the series I guess you have something to look forward to there!

GRAPHICS: I think average would be the word to describe the visuals of Red Faction: Guerilla. The game world is quite big and the buildings/structures look decent enough but nothing really stands out. I know this is Mars but pretty much everything just looks so dull and drab.  The deformation of the buildings/structures and the Mason’s character model would probably be the two things that impressed me the most about the graphics. In fact, it seems like the development team have sacrificed most of the visual fidelity in favour of the “destroy everything” mechanic, which is not something I would expect in this day and age of gaming. The game just about manages to look and feel “next-gen”.

SOUND: Another area where the game doesn’t really excel at all. The voice acting for the faction commander and Mason himself is pretty good but quite bad for the other characters. The person who voiced Sam really needs some training on how to do an English accent, it is atrocious. The in-game music is also quite poor, it tries to add an epic feel to proceedings but fails dramatically. This is because they keep on replaying the same couple of tracks overs and over again, after a while it just gets annoying. The sound for explosions and other actions is pretty decent though.

GAMEPLAY: The “destroy everything” mechanic is the games unique selling point and it does exactly what it says on the tin but ironically enough, that is where the problems start for Red Faction: Guerrilla. Once you get over the fact that you can destroy everything (which takes about two or three missions) there is not really much substance (or style) in the gameplay. It just ends up being your bog standard third person shooter which happens to have some “sandbox” elements.

The main objective of the game is to liberate the five areas of Mars from the control of the EDF. To do this you have to first bring the EDF control in that area down to zero, which means destroying important EDF buildings, and then tackling the main missions. There are also side missions to take on and the more of these you do the more people you will get joining the Red Faction. Now all this sounds great in theory but doesn’t work quite as well  in practice. First of all, even if you do these side missions and get more people to join the faction they are not much use anyway, they usually just die within seconds of arriving or just don’t do anything at all. Second of all, most of the main missions are hugely unbalanced and immensely frustrating. It seems like Volition’s idea of challenge is to spam you with an immense amount of enemies who are amazingly accurate, even on the lower difficulty settings. There is a cover mechanic but it is useless mainly because as soon as you get behind a wall it gets smashed into pieces. This results in you running around like a mad man trying to survive while about 10-15 enemies (sometimes more) are pummeling you with bullets.

Speaking of bullets, as a member of a rebel faction, (fight the power!) Mason is equipped with a handful of pretty standard weapons. You start off with your trusty hammer, a few explosive charges and an assault rifle. You can upgrade all of these weapons later on as well as purchase new ones. This is all done through collecting salvage, which is sort of the in-game currency.  There are two ways to get salvage, one is from destroyed buildings/structures and the other is by “mining” ore, which you will find hidden away in the environment. It is a nice little addition and adds some sort of “depth” to the gameplay but I can’t help but think it is also a way of justifying the “destroy everything” mechanic.

Oh and before I forget, you can also drive vehicles in the game, (they all handle like crap though) they range from buggies to big trucks. The latter are very useful in taking down enemy controlled buildings, all you do is plough the truck into the building and watch it crumble down. It is actually quite fun and it is during these rare moments where I found myself truly enjoying the game.

LONGEVITY: The single player campaign can last anything between 12-20 hours depending on how you choose to play the game. There are no collectibles in the game so there is no need to go back for a second play through and I wouldn’t recommend it either. There is a multi-player mode which is well designed and worth a look but I don’t see this game gaining a huge online following.

VERDICT: Red Faction: Guerrilla is a game which relies heavily upon one gameplay mechanic and in doing so forgets about everything else. In the end it just turns out to be, at best, an average third person action game.