We’re gonna have a revolution, yeah
DO: Blow up every building nearly brick-by-brick and stick it to “The Man”!
TYPE:Third Person Sandbox
PLATFORM: XBox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, and PC (in August)
MEAT: Oddly enough, the more “sandbox” games that have come on the market, the more restrictive they seem to be. What I loved the most about Grand Theft Auto III was the freedom that it gave you. While there is a definite progression in Red Faction: Guerilla, you are free to go pretty much anywhere you want in-between tackling the story missions. Also, you can level every building in the game piece-by-piece.
This is not an exaggeration at all. You start the game with a humble sledgehammer and remote detonated explosives. While the game gives players many options, from conventional assault rifles and pistols to building leveling singularity bombs, the tools you start out with are useful throughout. The game instantly found a place in my heart when an enemy trooper was hiding behind a wall and I was able to strike through the wall with my hammer and take him out. I could not begin to list the number of games that have frustrated me by having an enemy soldier hiding behind the most invincible piece of plywood they could find. The game often rewards players for ingenuity rather than forcing them to follow a strict path or sequence of actions.
There is a story contained within, but it’s a familiar trope that is one part Bolshevik Revolution and one part Total Recall. I suppose there might be some lip service to the previous Red Faction games, but if you’re not familiar with the background materials it doesn’t really matter. Gamers familiar with traditional sandbox games will find the basic gameplay familiar. You have the main story missions to progress the plot and plenty of different side missions to keep you occupied. Side missions include standard defend, raid, demolitions, and escort (Ugh!) with other familiar elements like tracking down convoys or tailing couriers. Despite the harsh Martian landscape there is plenty to do. My initial concern was that this game would be like Just Cause, where everything was too sparse and spread out to keep the game interesting.
Saving the best for last, there is a small cadre of robots you can take control of throughout the game. They are available for specific story missions and some side missions, but you will occassionally find them scattered around the map. These “walkers” are almost overpowered, but so much fun to use that I don’t really care.
PERKS: Literally every structure in the game can be destroyed. If your idea of entertainment is to blow things up, this game was tailor made for you. Unlike other games that let you play with high explosives, bringing down a building is not done simply by applying the correct number of explosives. There are actual physics involved. Land a giant robot on the roof and you may go crashing into the building. Need a quick path somewhere? Run through walls using your sledgehammer.
The vehicles are somewhat generic, but the controls are great. Vehicular combat is somewhat disappointing in anything other than tanks though. Most vehicles are much better for soaking up enemy fire while you recuperate than having any real offensive capabilities, even if they have mounted weapons. On the other hand, it is very satisfying to literally drive a dump truck into an enemy barracks to start an assault.
The enemy AI is noteworthy as well. They will retreat, take cover, and evade attacks, even on the easiest difficulty. They are not obnoxiously difficult, but it is a nice touch that they don’t stand around letting you blow them away. They do tend to be braver in greater numbers, so you may find yourself massacring quite a few before they remember to play smart. Overall though, the AI is solid.
SCREAMS: Past Red Faction games were more about deformable terrain, in this game the terrain is impervious. The game is also difficult even on the easiest difficulty. Most of this difficulty is the swarm of enemies you can be up against. Furthermore, as solid as the enemy AI is, your allies are next to worthless other than providing a temporary distraction. In the early stages this doesn’t seem so bad, but towards the end you are fighting dozens of troops with air support, vehicles, and possibly armor. This means they can overwhelm you with sheer numbers and they seem to come out of nowhere, making it difficult to find a place to hole up for those few precious seconds you need your health to recuperate.
Vehicles cannot be stored or brought up on demand and the quick travel system is limited to safehouses only. Furthermore, buildings will not regenerate until you beat the game and if you destroy special garages you may not be able to use some of the more spectacular vehicles and robots later in the game.
VERDICT: This is definitely a BUY. I rarely purchase games at full price and feel like I have to wring my $60 out of them. Red Faction: Guerilla was worth every penny. I won’t claim it is a perfect game, but it is packed with tons of fun.