Red Faction Guerrilla Re-MARS-tered – Uncivil Discourse
This massive bridge must have cost millions. The behemoth is a mass of concrete, steel girders, and supports, an engineer’s dream. I’m about to make it a nightmare. I place remote explosives on the road, then take my nanite rifle and melt the supports. With all the prep completed I hit my detonator. Each explosion goes off in sequence, a beautiful symphony of destruction. Finally I hear that long-awaited sound, the scream of metal as it tears from the stress of the newly freed bridge. The whole thing comes tumbling down, everything breaking apart, cars coming down with it. The game tracks how much property damage I’ve caused, the game says the damage is somewhere around 57 million dollars. A stupid grin is plastered on my face, but I don’t have too much time to admire my work, the EDF is pissed that I blew up their bridge. The threat level instantly went to red, the heavy troops have been called. I hop in a car and speed off. This is Red Faction Guerrilla, a playground of destruction where the limits of your destruction are your imagination. Originally released in 2009, the sandbox game is considered to be the best game in the franchise, so it’s no surprise that THQ Nordic decided that now was the time for a remaster of the cult classic. How does the game fare on modern consoles? Well let’s smash through and find out.
Guerrilla tells the story of Alec Mason, a miner from Earth who has come to Mars to work with his brother, Dan. The Mason brothers haven’t seen each other in ages and their reunion isn’t on happy terms. Their father has recently passed and Dan couldn’t make it Earthside for the funeral. Alec has come to check on Dan more than he has come to work, worried about his brother. Dan makes note that the EDF (Earth Defense Force, old allies of the Red Faction) treats the miners like slaves, right to privacy is non-existent, EDF troops regularly kill civilians, and more atrocities. Dan tries to convince Alec to join the Red Faction but the idea is quickly laid to rest. Tragedy strikes on their first assignment though, as Dan is gunned down by an EDF gunship in front of Alec. Alec is then nearly executed by the EDF when he is rescued by the Red Faction. With little choice Alec joins the RF and sets out to free Mars from the tyrannical grip of the EDF. While the plot is pretty standard it nonetheless works to set up context for your actions. But there are interesting plot developments sprinkled throughout that helps make the story a little more interesting. Ultimately it’s all window dressing for the gameplay.
Guerrilla is an open-world 3rd person shooter with destructible environments. The Red Faction series has always been known for the GeoMod engine, which allows for highly destructible environments and realistic physics. In 2009 this was impressive and remains so 9 years later. Watching a building collapse after a series of explosions is so satisfying, I don’t think it could ever get old. The game uses its destruction engine to its advantage in almost every mission. In most side missions and main missions, especially main missions, you are often tasked with clearing an area or blowing a vital location to kingdom come. While bringing down objectives is fun it is also the only major flaw in the game, there is so much repetition. Blow up this base, blow up these cars, blow up some jets, etc. But even with this flaw the game stays fun, some missions have you controlling an orbiting missile system protecting friendly cars or points, some missions have you as the gunner for a trigger happy Martian Anarchist, while others still have you transporting vehicles to the Red Faction hideouts. The objectives do line up with the core concepts of the game though, you are essentially a resistance fighter, meaning that destroying bases and other high value targets gets you closer to the goal of a free Mars. With that theme ingrained the open-world serves as more than just a tacked on bonus, you pick the targets you want to hit, planning like an actual guerrilla resistance. Sticking with the theme still, the playing field in the game isn’t always on equal terms. The EDF is a serious military power, even if they are cartoonishly evil space Nazis, meaning they have more men, more guns, and more resources. This translates into gameplay as an overwhelming force, capable of taking you down with ease. The EDF has several stages of attack which are highlighted on your threat alert display. Green is all clear, while red is maximum alert. The threat increases based on how many enemies you’ve killed, how many target buildings you’ve destroyed, or what target value you have destroyed. As the threat increases, so does the level of EDF response. Yellow alert sends standard troops and maybe a vehicle. Red alert mixes standard, special, and heavy troops with an assortment of heavily armored vehicles. The player meanwhile only has a limited amount of ammo and a very small health pool. So it’s best to know when to call a tactical retreat to let the heat die down, death doesn’t get the cause anywhere. While this can seem discouraging at first there are systems in place to help the player. For instance, as you take back a region the morale of the people will turn towards the RF. So if you get pinned in a gun fight there’s a chance that a colonist will take up arms to help you. The higher the Morale of the area the likely this is to happen. During late game it is pretty easy to have an army of new guerrilla fighters join in the heat of battle. This means that you can form large-scale conflicts on the fly, making daring last stands or just a chaotic battle on a whim. The only downside to the system is that your morale can take a hit when an NPC dies, and they will die often. But morale can also be boosted by having NPC’s kill EDF troops, making battles a good tug of war in morale.
Finally what would a destruction sandbox be without the toys? The weapons range from the standard to the extreme. For troops you have rifles, pistols and shotguns, with a couple of variations on those classes. But the real meat of weapons are the Weapons of Mass Destruction. We have det charges, a rocket launcher, singularity mines, a nanite rifle, elemental rocket types, an arc gun, and my personal favorite; The Thermobaric Rocket. This puppy can turn the biggest base into rubble in mere seconds. It’s a beautiful instrument of death that will always remain satisfying. There are also vehicles that the player can use to accomplish their destruction. There are mining-based vehicles that are heavier and can punch through buildings when at top speed. Another class is commercial civilian vehicles, which are light and fast but can’t take too much damage. Lastly there are EDF vehicles and mechs. EDF vehicles typically have guns and decent armor, these vehicles have great speed and attack, you can believe that a military would use these. The mechs come in two flavors; Industrial mechs and Military mechs. Industrial is faster, has jump jets, but has no firearms, though you can swing your arms and run through obstacles. Military mechs are slow, heavily armored, cannot jump, but to make up for it the mech has a recharging rocket salvo which destroys anything in its path. The arsenal on display in the game compliments the strengths of the game’s engine and makes destruction engaging. One can get lost for hours just watching how your explosives or hammer will bring down a structure.
With updated visuals, a steady framerate and a price point of 30 dollars Red Faction Guerrilla is a great play for anyone looking to scratch their destruction itch. New players will find one of the best destruction based games this generation while returning players can kick back and experience the magic all over again. This is a remaster that should not be missed and bring hopes that THQ Nordic might be willing to revive the series given enough interest. So what are you waiting for, the revolution is calling.