Wot I Think: Red Faction Guerrilla

By Kieron Gillen on September 24th, 2009 at 7:37 pm.

It just went off in my hand, officer.
We’ve been following the development of Volition‘s Sci-fi open-world terrorist freedom-fighter game for a while. But now, finally out on the PC, we can review say wot I think…

The more I played this, the more I found myself incredulous. Can they get away with this? Yes, the series has always played in these political waters, but from its Blackwater-esque PMCs to its insurgency escalating in proportion and in response to corporate-statism, it’s Iraq the game. It’s at times like this Volition should think itself lucky that no-one actually takes videogames seriously. If someone had made Red Faction as a film, make no mistake: it’d be pilloried as anti-American propaganda.

It also says much to Red Faction Guerrilla’s character that I’m not entirely sure that Volition are aware of how political the material they’re playing with. It treats everything incredibly lightly. It’s only every fortieth building you flatten do you stop, have a quick double-take, before shrugging and getting back to seeing exactly how destructible that destructible scenery actually is.

Rewind time to around 00s. I was working for PC Gamer, and we’d just given the first Red Faction a preview cover with a coverline along the lines of “Meet The Half-life Beater”. It’s something which people still occasionally drag up to try and discredit the magazine’s opinion, because when the game arrived, it really was no Half-life Beater. It wasn’t even a SiN beater. We said as much at the time, giving it a mark that was so Meh I can’t even remember it. The cover comments were prompted more by the incredibly exciting technical demos Volition were showing off, which seemed to promise everything. Except it became clear that they were unable to work out a way to work out to leverage this fantastic tech into actual splendid things to do.

Fast Forward to until 09, when Volition – finally – manages to do exactly that. While the far limits of the tech have been abandoned – there’s no longer any way to mine into the landscape – this is a game which understands that the key point of Red Faction was blowing things the fuck up and just spends as much time trying to turn blowing stuff the fuck up into actual game. It helps that they’ve swapped genres. Rather than a post-Half-life linear game model, they’ve switched to the open-world adventure game, like their recent Saints Row 2. If your key feature is about brutally redefining your environment, for the environment to be an environment rather than a level makes it a lot more meaningful.

Third person shooting, yesterday.

This also makes it interesting, becoming one of the first post-GTA games to go for a sci-fi theme. You play a semi-reluctant recruit to the Red Faction, the Mars Insurgency, and your aim is to – er – insurgize. To free each of the game’s regions, you have to complete a mixture of set missions and more freeform task. The latter – rescue hostages, defending from EDF (EDF! EDF! EDF! – Console Shooter Ed) attackers, blowing up important buildings – generally reduce the control level, so unlocking the main missions. In other words, you alternate between the dramatic narrative-related tasks, and smaller ones which allow you to play the dramatic ones.

There’s a couple of other resources to worry about. The population morale is how likely you’re to be supported. You gain it often at the same time as lowering control, but also by tasks like blowing up propaganda – normally by driving whatever you’re controlling at high speed directly into its supports – and offing the pigs. It also lowers when you do terribly counter-revolutionary tasks like shooting civilians in the head by accident (or by accidentonpurpose) or dying. When high, passersby are more likely to throw in when you kick things off, grabbing weapons and fighting against the powers that be. When low, they’ll run around screaming.

There’s also the issue of salvage, which you collect from the ground like a Bakunin-reading Womble and give to a lovely lady who gives you new toys. Volition have gone to town with these weapons of mass destruction, clearly focusing with one eye on the property damage potential. The remote-control charges are a explodtastic perennial throughout the game, but picking up the Nano rifle (dissolves anything it hits into tiny pieces of glass) and the singularity generator (creates a miniature black hole, which has severe consequences for nearby property value). The game is at its best when you’re thrown into a dangerous situation, and forced to improvise a solution with the toys at hand. For example, finding myself pinned down in a structure that’s being dissolved around me, with the last sniper I have to kill a building over. He’s invisible from where I am. I don’t have my guns to shoot through the twenty people in the way. I resort to throwing hand-charge after hand-charge between the holes that have been shot in the building, and start leveling the whole adjacent three-story structure with thirty roughly aimed demolition blasts. Eventually, he breaks cover and I take the shot. Victory!

Hello, brother. You're my best friend, always. I'd hate to think what would happen if you were killed by some fascist policemen. That'd be terrible. I'm not sure if I could keep on after something like that. I'd probably just give up and die.

As far as Open World games go, it’s – perhaps predictably – more in the Saints Row 2 school than the GTA4 one. There’s a narrative, but its vestigial. Yes, it’s a touch more serious than SR2, but it’s fundamentally interested in creating a reason to do a wide variety of stuff rather than worrying about the eco-politic-social epic. It’s narrative as an enabler of action. You have an objective – lower security level – but how you do that really is up to you. Don’t like a certain sort of mission? Just don’t select them. Bar the Badlands – which seemed to spread its events too widely – you’re free to make this your revolution. And so you understand, my revolution involves an absolute minimum of driving. If you have to taxi drive, it’s not my revolution.

This spread of Stuff To Do spreads outside the actual main game. There’s a Wrecking Crew mode, where you get a chance to perform set tasks against a clock for points – which includes an online leaderboard. There’s bonus missions included. There’s also a pretty fun multiplayer, which puts its assets to good show. As a design mechanic, I appreciate its floating class-system, where your role is defined by whatever backpack you pick up – hyperspeed running if you pick one up, healing with another, extra-damage-blasting with a third and so on. As a perennial idiot twelve-year old, I appreciate being able to whack people with my splendid hammer and take apart the landscape. A classic Capture-the-flag set-up of fortresses separated by bridges is enlivened when you can blow up that bastard bridge.

I like Red Faction Guerrilla a lot… but I think that stops just short of actual love. Which is odd, because I was suspecting I’d adore this. While reviews have been “only” in that 85% region, the word of mouth among the chattering classes have been Dark Horse For Game Of The Year. After playing it at a press event earlier in the year, I was convinced it’d go that way. I still smile at that moment when blowing up my first tower-stack, I managed to make it fall to crush another target I was planning to take out. That’s joyous.

Or maybe I'll just go apeshit and blow up everything I can see.

But what stops it ascending the complete heights is a number of smaller elements. The technical issues are one. While I think it’s a better conversion than the oft-insulted Saints Row one, it took some playing with settings to get a frame-rate I found acceptable – and even then, it’s going to drop when something genuinely totally ludicrous happens. Go have a nose at ”EG’s PC-tech comparison for more details. While it’s a decent port in many ways – getting the DLC for free, is one bit where they’ve treated the PC Gamer well – it doesn’t stop it feeling like a port.

That’s not the source of my reservations. I think it may be that its basic combat mechanics never quite feel robust enough. The rechargeable energy gives a quasi-indestructibility in a lot of cases – especially at a range – but when death’s start occurring, they often don’t quite feel connected to your actions. The line between what is fatal and what is totally survivable never quite seems firmly demarcated. It think it may be the game’s odd lack of character – while it does a fine job at making you feel like a heroic figure of the resistance (Better than – say – Half-life 2 in this area) it doesn’t do as well at giving anyone or anything in the game personality. I think it may be that – typical for an open world game like this – the friendly AI isn’t exactly particularly sharp, which hurts in those heroic escort missions especially (Quinns argues that the rescue missions are literally impossible on hard about half way through the game, and I can entirely believe it). I think it may be – in fact, I think this is the big one – that a lot of the actual missions aren’t exciting enough. Get in an enormous robot suit and all the tension drains away as swiftly as District 9′s amusing but empty last half hour. You’re in a heavily armoured killing machine and fighting things that explode with one hit. You’re going to win. Eventually, even explosions as beautiful as these get boring.

And then go crazy in a robotsuit. Yeah, that sounds more like it. I always was a mad bastard.

That takes a while. Its approach to destruction is very Bruckheimer, for want of a better word. You’re playing in a terrorist organisation whose first and best line of offense is to just drive at high speed into the building they’re trying to destroy, then pile out. They crumble with wasted elegance. The occasional time when you question whether a building really should still be standing is the cost for the arguably unprecedented accuracy of centre-cannot-hold-and-things-fall-apart-ism. It’s also exaggerated enough to divorce it from reality and enhance the freedom of play. Realistically, you drive a car at a building and you get jammed in the wall, if you penetrate at all. Here, vehicles are made of Adamantium-esque material and the buildings have been constructed by the lowest- bidder, who worked out an innovative pasta-shells and cereal-packaging construction method which stands up, but is sadly non-resistant to Adamantium-constructed cars.

In this game – though hopefully not in their private lives – Volition care only about two things: blowing things up and giving you really entertaining reasons to blow things up. With Red Faction Guerrilla, they’ve succeeded admirably at both.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

112 Comments »

  1. drewski says:

    I want to say that this sounds delightful.

    Wot.

  2. Some Guy says:

    Are there decent mod tools with the game?
    i just wana see somone make a crush the castle mod.

  3. TCM says:

    Interesting. One of my primary concerns with open world games is that, even if there’s a lot to do, it all feels same-y after a while. But, blowing stuff up…epically…on Mars…

    I am officially torn.

  4. Kestrel says:

    “Section 9″

    Is Section 9 the one where stompy robot exo-skeletons gloriously burn through the atmosphere to the planet surface but end up being addicted to cat food and living in Apartheid-era shanty towns? I’d quite like to see that one ^^

  5. LionsPhil says:

    Absolutely. A level editor for something like this is essential, so as to construct crude representations of the Eiffel tower to knock down.

    There was quite a bit of fun to be had from the original RF making rock structures to blow apart, but it was let down by early physics that couldn’t model the blown-off bits properly as anything but spinning spherical debris. Construct something dangling from the roof by a thread, and it won’t land properly when you break it off, nor will it continue to be explodable—it just vamooshed into dust.

    Quite why they didn’t continue to develop that tech, I don’t know. They could at least have had something to license to people who did know how to make gameplay around it. (Say, that mining MMORPG that looked a little like Descent.)

  6. sinister agent says:

    Oblivion with red.

  7. Okami says:

    but can you dance? because if you can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.

    (and, of course, if your friends don’t dance, they’re no friends of mine.)

  8. Pundabaya says:

    Man, I’m just pissed off that ‘Section 8′ doesn’t involve Dogwelder, The Defenestrator or Bueno Excellente.

  9. Bret says:

    So, you’re saying things explode?

    I’m a tad unclear.

  10. ZIGS says:

    For some reason, I thought this game was pretty mediocre and I was looking forward to it (heck, the first Red Faction is still one of my favorite games ever). But really, this is just GTA in a smaller scale where all you do is run around blowing shit up (fun for the first 30 minutes) and shoot people with guns that fail to give a satisfying feeling (something that the first one excelled at)

  11. TCM says:

    In the end, I think I will probably wait for Just Cause 2.

    And if that fails me, I will go off somewhere and quietly die.

  12. The Hammer says:

    This sounds a bit like a sci-fi, destructive, Freedom Fighters!

    Interesting point about the Iraq analogies, though. I don’t really think this developer really has it in them to provide a narrative that treats that comparison seriously enough, though.

    • simon says:

      Freedom Fighters was awesome, I have been looking for a game with a similar squad control mechanic for ages without any luck. Those accursed Clancy games almost came close once. Once!

  13. MinisterofDOOM says:

    I wanted to like RFG so much. But as it neared release, I began to realize it wasn’t going to be the game it should have been. I bought the 360 version and was hugely disappointed. Volition took a great premise and built upon it an absolutely mediocre game. Combat is tedious, missions are tedious, getting chased down by the entire EDF every time you sneeze is tedious. The whole game is tedious. There’s so much wrong with the game I never had the chance to enjoy the few things that were actually right. Yeah, you can blow stuff up. But you’re NEVER allowed to just sit back and enjoy that. It is not a sandbox game, because the game never leaves you alone. EDF are always hounding you, random missions are always popping up, something’s ALWAYS happening to keep you from being able to just indulge in the pointless destruction the game claims to be all about. But the game’s biggest failing, without any question, is the lack of coop. What the HELL were Volition thinking leaving it out? The game should have been delayed as long as necessary to incorporate coop. There is no valid excuse for it not being there in the 360 version. And with the PC version having just arrived, there’s even less excuse. Every day that passes without an RFG coop patch is another F on Volition’s big Developer Report Card.

  14. Kael says:

    This game should be considered a must play for any one that enjoy PC gaming. The combination of open world gameplay and environmental destruction combine to present alot of those emergent unexpected gameplay moments.

    For instance i had found a group of gas storage tanks marked for destruction but also near a guard outpost. If i went after the targets i’d have to deal with a large fire fight. So instead i set up proximity mines on a nearby road in such a manner that the next enemy jeep’s wreck would be launched into the tanks after hitting the mines.

    Two birds one stone. There are plenty of opportunities to get creative and they’re highly satisfying.

    • Kadayi says:

      This a 1000 times over. There are definitely more ways to skin a cat than most people think in this game & its great fun to explore them. Ordinarily this game wouldn’t have been on my radar, but I’m extremely glad I bought it as it is terrific fun.

    • 1stGear says:

      Really? Hm, I may need to experiment some more. Currently, my strategy tends to consist of “Drive into target -> Lay a bunch of remote charges -> Detonate -> Repeat 2 and 3 until building falls over -> GTFO” and its starting to get boring. If there are ways to mix it up like that, I might need to look into those.

    • Junior says:

      I’m currently still favouring the old “Stick a load of bombs onto your car and drive into the biggest target you can find”, after that I just try to kind of adlib myself from target to target until I run out and flee.

      I do have a silly habit of standing in a building under attack and battering down all my cover though, it’s not so bad for me, but it’s my fellow rebels who use said building as cover while I batter it down. Those sneaky buggers keep finding ways to get me in trouble.

  15. Jesse J McLaughlin says:

    Played this on the X-Box 360, and it started feeling samey after about two hours.

  16. Gutter says:

    I didn’t like that game… It feels like there is nothing to do, and when there is, it all seems to be the same.

    There is too much space between locations, and the car physic is not good enough to have fun between them. The missions are scattered around too far apart, and due to the story (“liberating” Mars) they seem to get farther and farther away as you liberate the space between them.

    And the hammer feels like a cheap attempt at creating a lasting icon like Freeman’s crowbar.

  17. Omroth says:

    Do you mean… District 9?

  18. A-Scale says:

    It just doesn’t seem interesting enough as a PC game to keep my interest up. On a console it seems like a perfectly mindless shooter, but I expect more depth when I’m sitting 2 feet from the monitor.

    • sinister agent says:

      On a console it seems like a perfectly mindless shooter, but I expect more depth when I’m sitting 2 feet from the monitor.

      That’s one of the most ridiculous and snobby things I’ve ever read on this site.

    • Starky says:

      Snobby indeed, I was always of the opinion that one of the true beauties of PC gaming is the fact that I can game how I want when I want. PC gaming offers the whole gamut of gaming, complex and cerebral to big dumb ass action flick like AAA. Amateur (mods) to Semi-Pro (indie) growing into ma and pa studios, then full AAA dev studios.

      I for one welcome all comers to the table (desk), the true home of gaming (because even an exbox exclusive is designed, modelled, coded and compiled using a PC).

  19. medwards says:

    Been hashing a bit of this out with the RPS folks on Eve, but I still have to say I’m somewhat annoyed by the insistence of the ‘terrorist’ label. It comes with a lot of baggage, but there is a difference between terror tactics and guerilla warfare… And even when terror is executed against an oppressor we have many examples of history looking on approvingly (US Revolution vs the loyalists, French Revolution vs the nobles). It’s worth noting that the backup plan for an invasion of the British Isles in WWII was pretty straightforward: resist to the last man/woman, a gun in every cupboard and a searing hatred in every heart. Then you (we, I suppose, I’m Canadian after all) won and managed to forestall all the entire morally questionable aspects of resistance against a superior power.

    In conclusion, we’re all rather judgemental of anything that upsets the status quo. Hell, if Red Faction was all about the Martian General Strike and only killed pigs after they killed miners, then there would still be people calling them terrorists. And it’s not like your coverage here is terribly unbalanced, I just hope for some more equanamity about the morality of your actions in the game rather than just labelling it terrorist which pretty solidly says “This is morally wrong. Period.”

    • drewski says:

      Surely that’s the point, though – one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. By labelling actions “terrorism” when you feel they are morally just, it forces you to re-examine your pre-defined labels of what terrorism is, and when actions that one party will label terrorism may be justified.

    • Guy says:

      @drewski
      You just made a lot of political scientists cry. The terrorist/freedom fighter debate is so big and so complex I can’t even imagine trying to summarise it but I will say that 99% of political scientists foam at the mouth everytime someone mentions it… ;)

      Incidentally: SOE’s operations in WW2 were essentially the biggest terrorist network ever seen. And an anti-Commie resistance was also founded (GLADIUS for instance) post-WW2 to take on the Reds in Europe if they won. And lets not even get into the grey netherworld of legalised tribal militias that were supported by various world Empires.

      medwards has a good point about terrorism vs. guerilla warfare, though both can mesh. There is a difference. (And I’m so proud medwards mentioned the American Loyalists. *sob* nobody remembers them, even though there were more loyalists than revolutionaries.)

      Anyways, the game. I tend to ignore the terrorist label. Red Faction don’t rely on terror so much as hitting things with a big stick or blowing things up. I can’t think of any missions involving kidnapping and execution, murdering civilians, attaching electrodes to the gonads etc. They’re remarkably calm for revolutionaries. Whilst the Iraq comparisons are just loose. So its got mercenaries and its kinda deserty and there are corporations? Is that all people think the Iraq war was/is? I mean if this is Iraq the game then surely the Red Faction should be a disparate mix of highly localised tribes, ethnic cleansers, religious fanatics, authoritarian fascists of the previous regime and agents of a neighbouring power run by a semi-criminal/theocratic-in-name-only leadership. etc etc.

      (Awaits backlash)

  20. Clovis says:

    In Saints Row 2 you could change the difficulty level at will; is that here too?

    I hope it runs a bit better than SR2. Someone else mentioned this in the forum, but SR2 runs well at first but then the performance starts to drop horribly the longer you play. It’s like SR2 is taxing the CPU more and more as you take over territories or something. Very odd. Has anyone seen any dramatic changes in performance whilst playing RFG?

    • malkav11 says:

      Yes, Red Faction: Guerrilla’s difficulty is adjustable on the fly any time you like. The general consensus I have seen, though (and I would concur) is that it should be played on the easiest difficulty because of the way enemies spawn in the game.

  21. Vinraith says:

    Looks interesting but exactly how many escort missions are we talking, here? I’ve lived in mortal dread of those things ever since the original X-Wing.

    • PeopleLikeFrank says:

      I haven’t reached any yet (in the 3rd sector at the moment), but almost all of the missions except the story ones are optional. You get benefits from doing them, but you can usually get those benefits elsewhere anyway. So there’s a good chance you’d hardly have to do any escort missions at all.

    • Lintman says:

      @Vinraith: You too? I’m still scarred from those X-Wing escort missions too!

  22. Flappybat says:

    Scandalous lack of co-op in a game about blowing-stuff-up.

  23. Marty Dodge says:

    Er, so should I get it or not. I came to this post not sure and I am still not sure.

  24. BigJonno says:

    My biggest problem with the game is that it forces you into taking the run and gun route most of the time. I wanted to be able to sneak around, knock out a couple of guards, plant a few strategically-placed charges and then detonate them from a safe distance, enjoying the destruction with a Cuban cigar and a vodka martini.

    Unfortunately, the aforementioned constant hounding by the bloody EDF makes it almost impossible to play that way. It’s a totally wasted opportunity, in my book.

    • pirate0r says:

      Having played the entire game on the xbox 360 at the hardest difficulty I can definitely say the stealth aspect is there, you cannot beat the hardest difficulty without a good amount of planning, stealth and a kickass backup plan that involves bombs.

      A good example is the mission where you must destroy the EDF fliers while they are parked at a base. A nano rifle, some patience and careful shooting will get you in and out without setting off the alarms; playing with stealth in mind puts the game in a totally different light. Heck you can even stealth the entire demo mission (up to the point where you get all smashy with the walker). The nano rifle and sledgehammer allow you to silently kill without being spotted (nano rifle being superior as you don’t leave a trail of pulped corpses).

      The game SEEMS like its all run and gun but volition actually inserted stealth mechanics that work well enough that you can complete entire missions without being spotted.

  25. undead dolphin hacker says:

    It’s a game to play on the XBox, not the PC. No FPS issues. No graphics fussing. Slick, efficient gamepad controls.

    The PC version might not be the sleeper hit of the year, but the XBox version most certainly is.

  26. JKjoker says:

    I disagree with this wot i think :

    Red Faction is a 3 trick pony, either “go destroy that building”, “go kill some soldiers” and “go drive
    this car somewhere”

    your fellow guerrilla guys are so useless you will actually not want them to appear because they are more likely to get killed and lower the morale (meaning you get less ammo from crates) than help you, i really wish they had modeled the guerrilla mechanics from “Freedom Fighters”

    no variation, completely repetitive, annoying as hell friendly AI, enemy AI with better sight and aim than Far Cry dudes (which forced the devs to make weapons seriously underpowered, and they dont get any better when you grab them)
    no ability to carry more than 2 bullets per weapon, you can only carry 3 guns (which means you can only carry 1 because then other 2 WILL be the demo charges and the nano rifle and it will always be one carried by the enemy so you can get ammo in the field making all the special weapons you can unlock useless)
    cars flip over easier than in Crysis
    the story sucks
    the morale and control mechanics are criminally underused
    the physics are complete fail, you could destroy every single wall and column in a building and it will keep standing there supported by a few strings of wall (1mm in diameter) you didnt destroy beacuse it uses a shitty “health bar” system to know when the building should go down
    enemies respawn right in your face (you can actually see them “fade” in)

    about the game’s length, its really really short (maybe 10 main story missions padded out by the control system, less than 15 mins each if you dont die, youll and half of it will be spent “driving” to the mission) but by the end i was so annoyed and tired of it (and the last level lack of checkpoints didnt help) that i just wanted to finish it to uninstall it (not a good sign)

  27. Dominic White says:

    JKJoker has no soul.

    RF:G is a ridiculously fun game. Yeah, it could have done more with the concept, but they decided to go for something focused, instead. It’s all about smashing stuff. There’s side-missions about efficiently destroying buildings, there’s side-missions about rapidly destroying as many buildings as possible. To claim back territory, you have to destroy buildings.

    It’s almost closer to Rampage than GTA. And that’s just fine.

    Oh, and I always knew that once the giant alien ant menace was dealt with, the EDF would go power-mad. I mean, after all, what else can you do with a grenade launcher that wipes out entire city blocks other than opress your fellow man?

    • JKjoker says:

      yes, there are missions about efficiently destroying buildings, and its just those missions where the physics problems become the most apparent, some have indestructible columns (the hell ? i dont care how thick they are, i have a freaking desintegrator rifle), others have strong looking steel columns and crappy looking walls, of course you destroy the columns and the walls can support the full weight, you destroy all the walls and the internal walls support the full weight, you destroy all the internal walls and whatever piece of wall you missed supports the full weight

      it just bugs me

  28. Ziv says:

    does the story relate to the previous red faction games? do I have to play them to understand this one?

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s set a looong time after the first two Red Faction games. The plot summary for you:

      Evil corporation rules Mars, oppresses miners
      Oppressed miners rebel
      Earth Defense Force come to help miners
      Everyone is happy

      Many years later, Earth Defense Force are oppressing the miners.
      Goto 10

  29. Marty Dodge says:

    Er let me try this again… better or worse than Wolfenstein?

    • JKjoker says:

      they both had potential but end up being mediocre

      Wolfenstein castrates the fun with the hunt-the-collectibles-or-no-upgrades-for-you action
      RFG castrates the fun with little ammo, only allowing you 3 weapons and then silently forcing you to take 2 (must have for demolition purposes) and the third one will always end up being either the assault rifle or the heat seeking rifle because those are the most common enemy weapons (so you can get ammo during fights), they even took the termobaric rocket launcher and thought “damn, this weapon is not useless enough, i know lets make it so you cannot reload it with ammo crates, yeah that should put off anyone willing to grind their way to 10k scrap to unlock it”

      i got a lot more fun out of Batman AA, or if you want a bargain and you havent play it try out Freedom Fighters, it does what RFG wants to do so much better (without the destructible environment tho)

  30. SirKicksalot says:

    I had an orgasm when I destroyed THAT giant bridge.

    The audio is absolutely fantastic. You can feel the tension accumulating in the structures you demolish.
    I hope Saints Row 3 includes GeoMod.

    People without imagination won’t enjoy RFG. Same goes for Crysis or Prototype. The toys are right in front of you. It’s up to you to use them in amusing ways.

    • Dominic White says:

      “People without imagination won’t enjoy RFG. Same goes for Crysis or Prototype. The toys are right in front of you. It’s up to you to use them in amusing ways.”

      Oh so painfully true. I know people who went through the entirety of Bioshock using only the wrench and lightning plasmid. Not because it was fun, but because it was efficient and abusable. I know people who went through all of Crysis without ever trying to recreate scenes from Predator, instead opting to just crouch and pop headshots with a silenced rifle all day long.

      Needless to say, these people end up complaining about the game. They’ve been given all these toys and powers, and choose not to use them, and then blame others for this.

  31. Lucas says:

    I played this twice on the PS3, first on normal doing all the missions, and again on hard doing only free roaming demolition and main story missions (except at the end where you need a couple missions to drop the final sector’s control to zero), and also did a bit of multiplayer.

    My primary complaint is that the side missions are really just filler. It really made me want something with better world dynamics. Mostly you’re a demolitionist and fedex quester. You won’t really play like a guerrilla soldier unless you turn up the difficulty, because then the ferociously swarming AI will force you to be stealthy and always hit & run.

    The destruction physics make the game fun, but also have some wonky behaviors because structures are both too stiff and too brittle (they can’t bend, only break). It leads to dominant strategies like driving vehicles through buildings and attacking buildings roof-first because falling debris will do tons of damage. You’d think carefully chopping out the lower supports would bring a building down, but more often than not it just creates a deathtrap waiting to drop on your head, and you have to break virtually everything to bring a structure down this way. It’s too bad they didn’t make the vehicles physically destroyable too (they only explode GTA style).

    Multiplayer can be awesome, but it’s dominated by groups who know where the best goodies spawn. My favorite mode is team demolition, where each team has a rotating “destroyer” player who racks up points by trashing stuff, and also to kill the other team’s destroyer. Unfortunately there isn’t a buit-in playlist with ONLY this mode. It does have some great melee strategy and surprisingly smart environmental play. I would only buy it again on PC if my friends all got it for multiplayer.

    I was briefly tempted to make a 3rd playthrough on the highest difficulty, but I’d seen everything and just wasn’t up for the attrition (demolish, die, try again).

    Invisible walls on mountaintops are also terrible.

  32. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Here’s my Mini Wot I Think (Wot I Thinky?):

    It rocks.

    A more elaborate response:

    It fuggin’ rocks. It’s like The Authority. You’re Midnigther, Mars is the Commander’s ass and it’s rape time!

    But just not always.

    The terrorist versus freedom fighter versus guerrilla angle is something terribly light, to a point that it’s something I don’t think is worth much discussion. As a central theme it’s blatant and skin deep, as a story hook it’s not very fleshed out or subversive enough. It’s not something that would elicit the kind of Wot I Thinkisms that, say, Katamari Damacy and its metaphor for capitalism would. It’s a group of fascist blokes against rebels. End point.

    Every criticism I’ve been reading concerning play mechanics, including those brought up by JKjoker, remind me of Deus Ex. Actually, Guerrilla seems to be mining Ion Storm’s design in search for gold and then spread it – perhaps a bit thinly, true – across their games. It does a better job of keeping the studios’ mentality alive than Invisible War did, except it does it by proxy of what is expected in an open-world, thirdperson action title nowadays.

    It loses something in the translation, sure, but the third Red Faction seems more about Deus Exing the open-world tropes than it does Grand Theft Auting them. Except here, the power to unravel the gameworld by quoting dead philosophers is replaced with the hammer – much like verbs in old text adventures gave way to direct control over character, the hammer is a blunt but effective way to peel away at the layers of the gameworld. Sometimes you reach dead ends, sometimes you open doors, sometimes you make your own way.

    In the process they also fumbled characterization, AI and inventory; instated super enemies with deadly accuracy at higher difficulty levels which suggest the EDF hadn’t won up until that point because they set their minds to “Casual”. But… It’s the kind of game that, unlike recent and not-so-recent-fare, has more to do with the utopias that Deus Ex and Terra Nova once promised than following in the framework of the latest console blockbuster. It’s a game with problems but the biggest one is us – there’s many things here to enjoy and we’re trying too hard to crucify a game for mistakes we’ve forgiven others for in the past. Guerrilla has a certain mindset and vision of what PC gaming could and should be; things we’ve always loved and judging by our posts on RPS, are in dire need of.

    Don’t ruin that and just go enjoy the game.

    Now where’s my (jack) hammer?

  33. Adventurous Putty says:

    in b4 A-Scale Wot debate.

    No, but seriously, that looks like quite a delightful hammer. I’ll have to play this at some point.

  34. Cooper says:

    I’ve been waiting for a decent review of this game. The premise (blow shit up on mars with fancy pants architectural damage modelling) sounds very appealing, but, like all these things, I wasn’t sure it’d work out. I didn’t know it was open world, and that does add to the appeal. By the sounds of things I’m gonna have a few hours of laffs with it.

    I think I’ll file this under ‘wait until it’s £15 or less’

    It;s good the hear, from the experience here, that the building destroying becomes tactical as well as gratuitous. I was worrying a bit that it might be a little too hollow and not much more tan blowing stuff up. But if I’m blowing stuff up WITH head thinky about how, that sounds ace…

  35. Stabby says:

    I just bought this, I’m getting horrible performance issues where there should be none. Apparently this is common to many people and they’re working on figuring out why, and a patch.

    In the meantime, these things have been known to help apparently:
    -Run it in windowed mode
    -force Vsync (no ingame option)
    -turn off “Thread Optimization” in Nvidia Control Panel

    Hope they can fix this soon, there’s nothing I love better than smashing stuff in progressively smaller and smaller pieces!

    • D says:

      This is my shortcut link to it:
      C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c start “lowered priority shortcut” /belownormal “E:\Games\Red Faction Guerrilla\rfg.exe”

      If more performance is needed you can even go /low, but it game me some.. odd.. physics at times.

  36. The Dark One says:

    I wish someone could make Moving Mars: The Game. I have no idea how it could possibly work, but I really loved the feeling of repression and uncertainty the colonists lived under.

  37. NeonBlackJack says:

    I just beat this game. Best time I’ve had in years. I’m such a twelve year-old, but this is the Red Faction I’ve dreamed of since the first. Knock stuff down WOOOO!!!!

  38. nutterguy says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Are there decent mod tools with the game?
    i just wana see somone make a crush the castle mod.

    Redfaction twitter…

    @prestosd5 We will not be releasing any official Tools/SDK for RFG PC.

    http://twitter.com/RedFaction/status/4321913714

  39. cncplyr says:

    I have to admit I quite like this game, even though it does get a big same-y after a while. Also like mentioned above, the EDF chasing you all the time does get quite annoying, so I just set it to easy and go around smashing stuff with the hammer for fun :)

  40. Thranx says:

    It is delightful. And certainly a full $50 release, but it’s only $40! Buy now!

    Multiplayer “matchmaking” is horrible and consoley… there is the occational invisible wall (can’t fly over some terrain, edge of world mostly) but those are my only beefs.

    It was a ton of fun to play, and really quite challenging at times. I just beat it last night, and it was an epic romp. Took a good 20 hours, and I did the bare minimum it took to advance through each zone.

    Thankfully, if you don’t run every available mission, it plops you back into the game after the credits and lets you do them anyhoo, tho they make the baddies a little more difficuly after you’ve beaten the game. a VERY nice touch that makes the missions that should be SUPER easy because they were in the first area of the game actually difficult. I’m still playing it, I’d say there’s easily 40 hours of content if you want to run the side missions, and more if you want to “achieve” the game to 1000.

  41. Buemba says:

    It’s a really fun game, but man that’s the last time I buy a Volition game at launch.
    The game is unplayable in full screen mode – The framerate drops bellow 10 whenever *anything* happens and if a character starts talking the game freezes for what feels like minutes between each letter. Oddly none of those bugs appear if I run the game in windowed mode.
    Granted, being forced to run the game in a window is hardly the worse bug I’ve ever seen in a game, but after the Saints Row 2 debacle I thought Volition would try a little harder this time.

  42. Jim Rossignol says:

    I absolutely loved this. I think the infrastructure-destruction in an open world is exactly the right way to use destructible scenery. It’s the first time it’s ever really been integrated into game goals, and the result is something that is consistently silly and entertaining, while also having a bigger picture that you can care about if you want.

    Little touches, like the vehicles being brought to you if you’re out in the landscape on foot, just make the game profoundly playable. I found myself wanting to thank it for being so hospitable.

  43. Craymen Edge says:

    From what I’ve seen of the version on the xbox 360, the Wrecking Crew mode is virtually the ‘crush the castle’ game mode you’re after. Unfortunately, it’s local multiplayer only on the consoles.

  44. Lewis says:

    Oddly, I do remember the PC Gamer score. It was 69%.

    Guerrilla’s an absolutely stunning game. Not played the PC version, but on the 360… well, I was reminded of Tim’s Far Cry 2 review in PC Gamer, and that sheer sense of awe at creating your own moments of mayhem. I was less impressed with Far Cry 2, but RF:G totally did it for me. The uninterestingness of the terrain – and an opening five-or-so hours that really didn’t impress – were the only things that held it back.

  45. Pzykozis says:

    Admittedly I played it on 360, but I just didn’t like it, ally AI is terrible and makes the saving mini missions annoying towards the end even on normal, the geomod whilst impressive suffers from a myriad of physics errors; I’ve had three storied buildings stay up whilst only having on steel support on one side.. indestructible supports are annoying aswell.

    It isn’t bad I guess it’s just something that didn’t sit well with me, admittedly the targets are fun especially the bridge… but then the bridge respawned?!… yes.. respawned well that annoyed me oh and i set off a MOAB at one of the concrete supports but it turns out concrete is immune to explosive force… minor gripes here and there are what caused my dislike I guess… also the story is sooo short.. about 12 missions in total, and they’re all a cakewalk (apart from the flier mission which gave me nightmares.. stealth in a game about blowing stuff up?)

    I’d recommend waiting and get it cheap-o from somewhere…

  46. CaseytheBrash says:

    I think the point of this game isn’t the actual game, it’s just to smash shit. It’s like having a big heap of toy trucks, a pile of blocks, a company toy soldiers and metric crap ton of fire crackers. This game strongly appeals to my inner juvenile delinquent. SMASH.

  47. MinisterofDOOM says:

    That’s just the problem, though. It lures you in with “I’m not a game, I’m a giant lego town to march through pretending you’re Godzilla” and then it takes off it’s mask and screams “April Fool!” and you realize that it’s not about destroying things at all. It’s about menial tasks and not even looking at things crooked unless you want to get stuck in a horrible-mechanicked firefight.

  48. SuperNashwan says:

    I agree with people saying the fun is quite cruelly limited by certain design decisions, most notably sending several armies after you every time you do something remotely naughty but limiting you to so little ammo you can only kill a fraction of one of those armies. Break cover to try to pick up more ammo and you die; very broken. A bunch of other not exactly minor niggles ultimately get in the way of truly enjoying some of the glorious moments it provides.

  49. Cooper says:

    Also, this + Voxel (destoyable) landscapes as per Crysis and i’d be wetting myself with glee.

  50. Sporknight says:

    It seems like people are missing the whole “Guerrilla” thing here…You aren’t supposed to be a one-man army. You’re supposed to get in, explode things, and then run like the dickens. I really can’t stand using any of the weapons that don’t have explody bits on them – I’d rather bumrush someone with my sledgehammer than try and blow them away with the shotgun. It’s not about You vs Them, it’s about You vs What They Built (conveniently out of pasta-shells and cereal-packaging).

    Also, this is definitely a game that plays better in small chunks. Keeping it to just an hour or two at a time prevents the repetition from setting in as hard.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      If you run away the enemy will psychically find you and continue the fight, or you have to go on a Benny Hill procession to your safehouse, which is incredibly tedious. Even if the enemy doesn’t rock up to your hiding place it takes an age for the alert level to reset and anyone who thinks that simply standing around waiting for the game to let you continue is good design needs their head examined. But that’s the inevitable reward you get for playing the game and blowing stuff up.

    • JKjoker says:

      and dont forget their perfect accuracy at all ranges with the gauss rifle, the sniper rifle and the heat seeking rifle, which makes running away a worse strategy than running towards them and going hammer time on their asses

      also shotgun dudes tend to “pop up” out of thin air right in front of you and usually get to shoot 2 or 3 times before you put them down

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>