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Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

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Adrian Hatwell
Adrian Hatwell

Volition, Inc moves their revolutionary sci-fi shooter to the third-person for the third instalment of Red Faction, and to great effect at that. If it weren’t already every child’s dream to become a rebel insurgent and overthrow a corrupt government then Guerrilla would have made it so. 

Red Faction: Guerrilla is the story of a man and his hammer. It’s a love story, really, because the game offers such rich and rewarding opportunities to smash so many things in so many different ways that at the end of the day one can’t help but identify with, ever yearn for, the affection between this man and his damn fine hammer.

Set, as the series tends to be, on a terraformed Mars, Guerrilla once again takes us into the ranks of the rebellious Red Faction movement, seeking to wrest control of the planet from the brutal exploitation of the colonising Earth Defence Force. The game offers plenty of good reasons why Alec Mason might want to get involved with the liberating movement, but that’s all background noise as soon as the player is first asked to dismantle a structure; from that point on the game isn’t good vs. evil, it’s Alec vs. every last piece of real estate on that godforsaken planet.

The simple, spiritual joy of wanton destruction is the work of Red Faction’s overhauled Geo-Mod system, which allows every kind of building or structure to be completely decimated. For the most part constructed with reverence for physics, every edifice can be toppled by strategically attacking support points or just completely levelled with enough hammer time.

This very capable system, a huge improvement over the previous games in the series, makes destabilising EDF forces more of a giddy lark than dire political burden. With the likes of remote mines, rocket launchers, and molecular-deconstructing nano-guns at your disposal it’s not only thrilling to take down an integral power station or communication tower, but also rather difficult to resist the urge to do the same to buildings belonging to your own team; it’s just that much fun.

Throughout the missions Alec and his (often conspicuously absent) guerrilla buddies are tasked with eliminating EDF presence in six different territories of Mars. As EDF property and propaganda is destroyed a bar measuring their influence in the area decreases. Alec can also perform optional ‘guerrilla actions’, such as rescuing hostages or intercepting important documents, in order to increase the area’s local morale statistic, making it more likely that the population will join your uprising.

As far as sandbox-type gaming goes Guerrilla offers a proficient version of an open world that suffers from the same quirks that effect most games of this kind; weaker vehicle controls, limited AI, problematic story elements. None of this, however, has a shot at weakening the overall experience as the core gimmick of smashing the living hell out of everything is so well presented, nothing can spoil that shiver-inducing sound as metal (or concrete, or enemies’ skulls) gives way to a giant sledgehammer.

The multiplayer elements maintain the same wonderful, destructive fun with a number of match modes predicated on destroying or preventing the destruction of certain structures. To further ratchet up the pandemonium the competitive games also feature a number of specialised backpacks that imbue the player with aditional abilities, such as flight, super speed, and an invulnerable rhino charge.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is easily the most noteworthy game of the series thus far. Previous titles were well-told stories trapped in by-the-numbers FPS format, Guerrilla is a simple concept brought to its fullest, most satisfying conclusion and cleverly disguised as a third-person action game.  

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