Have You Played… Red Faction: Guerrilla?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

There was a point back in 2009 when I became obsessed with Red Faction: Guerrilla. I’ve always liked destructible scenery in shooty, ‘splodey games and Guerrilla looked like it might change the landscape of action gaming forever. No more would we tolerate canned collapses – instead, we’d demand authenticity of a sort, with physics engines ensuring that every building caved-in and crumped in a believable fashion. Hammer time.

In retrospect, my love for the game seems a little bit silly but Guerrilla’s hammer and bombs destruction still makes for a fantastic playground.

I like that Red Faction’s thing, as a series, isn’t the rebellion on Mars – it’s destruction. Just Cause has tethering, Far Cry has animal-satchels, Saints Row has a tongue penetrating its cheek, and Red Faction has rockets taking chunks out of walls and towers creaking and toppling as their foundations dissolve under a hail of hammer blows. It’s not a bad hook to hand your hat on and Guerrilla is a blast when it’s just you, an army’s worth of weaponry and an outpost swarming with enemies.

It goes in the big pile of games that I’ve played for hours without making much progress in. I seem to remember something about the ghosts of aliens but my inclination was to turn away whenever dialogue or plot started happening. Forget all that. Back to the coalface. Back to the hammer. Back to breaking things.

42 Comments

  1. lokimotive says:

    I really enjoyed this game when I was playing it, but, sadly Games For Windows Live got in the way. I think it ate all my saved games, or I couldn’t log in for some reason. At some point, hopefully, I’ll pick it up again and just cause wanton destruction with my giant hammer.

  2. Orix says:

    I’ve played and tried to like all of the other Red Faction games, in my opinion (and possibly one shared by a few others) Guerrilla is the only game in the series that is worth playing.

    Attaching a cluster of bombs to a car, smashing through the outer wall of a building, leaping out said hole, then exploding the building from the inside out is not a pleasure I’ve come across in any other game.

    Also “Aliens” style Loaders and Singularity bombs.

    And nano rifle.

    …and Hammer.

    GG :)

    • tomimt says:

      Guerilla is the only Red Faction game I’ve enjoyed. 1+2 bored me to death, so I stopped playing them after the first mission. And the one that came after Guerilla was just plain horrible. Good thing I got them cheap during some sale or something.

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      phuzz says:

      Oh yeah! I’d forgotten all about the big stompy robots, they were great!

    • vlonk says:

      I remember once I tried to attack a base that was situated on a hill and I could not find a way to let rockets rain over its mighty walls. So I sneaked up on a unguarded side of the outer wall and satchelcharged the whole thing in the form of a big U (two sides up all the way and on the groundlevel as wide as I could), then ran away a fair distance, bombed it open and immediately rained my load of rockets through the new window. True to the subtitle I ran for my car and got out ASAP to the closest “definitely-not-safe” safespot.

      That storyline though… Never would have thought that the story of a violent anarchistic immigrant could be told in such a boring manner. I truly loved my time with this game but the only memorable memories of it that I have come from the stories I wrote myself or heard from other gamers and their exploits.

  3. phanatic62 says:

    Great game. It got a bit monotonous towards the end, and I ran out of steam somewhere in the third territory, but that doesn’t temper how much fun I had up until that point.

    Side tangent: Am I the only person that enjoyed Red Faction: Armageddon? Maybe my expectations were set sufficiently low by all of the bad reviews, but I couldn’t get enough of the magnet gun. Throw in the fact that it was sufficiently short and by the time you start to get bored the game is over. I love me some destructible environments.

    • Orix says:

      I tried to like Armageddon. The magnet gun was cool. As was the Nano-regenerator. But, I just really didn’t like the claustrophobic setting, and the hordes of aliens that rained upon you often turned it into a chaotic run-round-in-circles-shooting-everything scenario.

      With Guerrilla, it felt a little like Assassin’s Creed in that you have a target and you can consider many entries/methods to exact your destruction. Granted the death and destruction was wonton rather than one man, but it felt more aware of its setting.

      I would have liked to have seen Armageddon’s tools set in large outdoor spaces like Guerrilla.

      • Rise / Run says:

        I’ve only played Armageddon. Somehow I had come to understand that because of the magnet gun, that was the superior and most fun version. Since it was worth having played but not great by any stretch, I never really looked at the rest of the series.

        • shaydeeadi says:

          Seriously check out RF:G, the Magnet gun did not in any way make up for the loss of the explosive sandbox that is Guerilla.

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        Wisq says:

        Yeah, once you get over the initial fun of gratuitously blowing up building and start really thinking about how to use your tools, things can get really emergent and interesting in RF:G.

        My favourite example is the time I had to break in to a building and rescue someone who had been taken captive (I don’t remember specifics). I parked just outside the side of the building (couple feet from the exterior wall), and then I think I cleared it out the standard way, just coming in and shooting everyone. We were making our escape when I see reinforcement troops pouring in through the front and back doors, so thinking fast, I just throw explosives up against the wall and make a new exit. Well lo and behold, that’s the wall my truck was behind, so we run through the hole, get in, and escape without a hitch.

        It’s super minor — “oh look, I blew a hole in the wall” — but it’s something that would’ve been completely impossible in most other games, and only possible if the wall was scripted to be destructable in the few other games that might support it.

    • Wedge says:

      The magnet gun and your special magic nano powers is the only thing that made that game worth playing. Luckily it was possible to play pretty much the entire game with nothing but those, which I did the entire way through.

      But yeah combining the best aspects of both games is what really needs to happen.

      • Similar says:

        There’s a nano thingy mod for Gorilla. It doesn’t rebuild /everything/ (glass won’t grow back, for one thing), but it’s still rather fun to have installed.

        • Zetetick says:

          WOW!
          I must be a Big Scaredy cat, I’d NEVER have the courage to Mod a Gorilla!

    • malkav11 says:

      Armageddon’s ridiculously unfun bug enemies were pretty much what killed my playthrough of it. If there hadn’t been swarms of those annoyingly durable and obnoxious foes around every corner I might have liked it.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    Idle Thumbs’ tribute to this game: link to youtube.com

  5. shaydeeadi says:

    I had a blast with this game when it came out, I played on console initially but that had the benefit of functional (faster) multiplayer. The multi in RF:G was hilarious, I once actually killed someone with a flying building (with the assistance of the singularity bombs) and the backpack combos you could make with certain weapons were absolutely brutal. I re-bought this about a week ago on Steam for peanuts but nobody seems to be online which was a bit sad. I never unlocked the Ostrich

    Luckily I’m enjoying the SP portion again. The core loop of smashing and exploding things is good enough to keep boredom at bay and there is plenty so see and do. The game still looks good and is easy enough on resources you can pile expensive AA on it for free.

    Armageddon was ok but it ruined itself on my old laptop and refused to start one day even after reinstalling and verifying.

  6. Muzman says:

    Another one of those games that’s the real hero of its age but didn’t make enough money to keep the studio afloat much longer.

    Playing it again now I think it is as described above and ruined sandbox games for me. I mean Just Cause is ok, Saint’s Row is insane at least, but people still go nuts for the supposed emergence of WatchunderscoreDogs and GTA 5 and Assassins Creeds and so on like it’s still 2004! Where have these people been? Once you can knock down half a building with a truck and then jet-pack outathere, leaving a missile behind for good measure, so the enemy installation is literally demolished, everything else is just the same old systems bumping into each other in the same old ways.

    • triclops41 says:

      Yup, this is a game that should’ve led a big shift in open world action games. Instead, it is a one off game that makes me sad because I can never get others to understand what was so great about RFG.

      • vlonk says:

        I think the problem is that no other gaming company put an emphasis on developing an engine that is optimized for that level of destructability. You have to build your engine from the ground up for interactions like this. Was maybe a waste of money as long as shiny lensflare shooter XXX seemed more successful.
        At least partial destruction is on the horizon = Rainbow Six: Siege link to youtube.com
        Not a sandbox game, focused on limiting the destructive potential of the players, but maybe the right engine to do the trick. We cannot see yet if “architecture collapsing” is part of this physics engine.
        The catch: It’s an Ubisoft product. I guess that limits the chances for a good sandbox quite a bit… maybe third party license?

  7. Garibaldi says:

    In my opinion this was the most underrated game of all time. The gameplay was, and still is, second to none as far as destruction goes. The only serious shooter i can even think of that attempted this was crysis, and even then at a limited scale. I like how they portrayed much of mars though admittedly the story was trash.

    The developers didnt get half the credit they should have for this gem. It feels like this title should have been a breakout success that changed the way we see games and defined a new genre, but instead It quickly found its way to the bargain bin. I picked up a copy of it for ps3 a few years back and it was all of 5 dollars. And its successor, invisible wa- i mean armageddon, was a boxed in travesty that removed most of the good features out of the first one.
    I would like to see a new one come out one of these days, but with real destruction, and maybe some simulated water physics. This IP is ripe for innovation, i think thats the best thing about it. Theres just so much potential out there. And its been mentioned but the multiplayer is really fun. If anybody here is down for some siege send me a invite on steam: Fiakmaster.

    • jonahcutter says:

      I agree. I think Red Faction: Guerilla and the first Crysis are the top two open-world games so far. Just Cause comes close, but it’s still a step lower for the pure emergent chaos and you can generate in RF:G and Crysis.

      I pretty much love everything about RF:G. The unmatched destruction engine. The b-movie scifi writing. The scenery-chewing, character actor performances. The solid and satisfying visual and audio designs.

  8. Gertjan says:

    Never played this game, I see it’s on sale for the next 24 hours on the humble store.

  9. Monkeh says:

    So.. am I the only one who got bored with this game about an hour in? Sure the destruction is great, but when that’s really all there’s to your game, it gets boring really fast [for me].

    • Bart Stewart says:

      I also played RF:G for several hours, then never again.

      Not because I got bored with it, though — I stopped when I finally accepted that it wasn’t actually a PC game.

      The destruction was fun, but to almost fully explore an area, then get killed, only to discover that everything (other than a few main mission pickups) had reset and all my exploring meant nothing… no. No. Too frustrating.

      If I’d known that Just Cause 2 (despite its glowing recommendations from the Hivemind) had the identical failure to implement a PC-friendly save system for its port, I wouldn’t have bought (and not come close to finishing) it, either.

  10. RAY16 says:

    I enjoyed the single player in RFG quite a bit despite it getting little tiresome near the end. Something that always made me sad about this game is how overlooked its multiplayer component was/is — it’s quite fun.

  11. SlimShanks says:

    Volition would get a lot more of my money if they made Red Faction games instead of… whatever mess they’re turning Saint’s Row into next. With some more effort put into writing, Red Faction could have writing as well as explosions! What an exciting thought.
    I once had to get into a heavily guarded tower. I drove a truck off a cliff above it, smashed through the top 3 stories, got out of my vehicle, and cleared it from the top down. The fact that the camera could handle all this without getting stuck in a wall is quite impressive.

  12. Rufust Firefly says:

    It was the original write-up on this site that made me pick up this game, and it is a lot of fun. The destruction in this one should be standard in games now, though if Volition had tried modeling Steelport with similar fidelity, it would run at about 1 fps, I’m sure.

  13. Urthman says:

    The story may have been kinda dull, but for a game like this I’d much rather have a dull story that mostly stays out of your way than an Ubisoft production that thinks its terrible story is so awesome that the game has to hold you down and shout it at you for a few hours before you get to play.

    RF:G’s story was forgettable, which means I don’t remember it ruining the game. There was nothing annoyingly stupid, no characters I hated.

    And I think the story missions were mostly good, letting you tackle objectives however you want rather than forcing you to do the one scripted path that fits the story.

    So overall, I’d have to rank RF:G’s story as way above average for a huge open-world sandbox game.

  14. Renegade says:

    Bought this a few years ago in a steam Winter sale, best £3.50 i spent. I loved that the game really made you feel like you were playing as a guerilla/freedom fighter. I regard myself as being decent at shooters there were times were the enemy were so numerous that I had to say screw it and take down my target as quickly as possible just so I could escape alive.

    To this day i’m still confused by the direction that Armageddon took. They replaced complete distruction and an open world with a corridor and a semi-distructable environment, it was obviously going to fail.

  15. Spacewalk says:

    Buildings Say No More, the game.

    I was having lots of fun and then I got the nanorifle. I was having lots more fun then I got the jetpack. I was having even more fun still and they gave me a thermobaric rocket launcher. How much more fun can I have with this game I can’t even guess.

  16. Guy Montag says:

    I already knew deep down that the two series would never meet, but I was really sad when Red Faction didn’t follow Volition to Deep Silver. Just the fact that two so different series could exist in the same timeline was awesome to me.

    Also, yes, go play Guerrilla now if you haven’t. It’s quite a thing.

  17. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    I played it and it’s awful!

    I mean, if you just try to wreck stuff it’s an OK sandbox, but if you try to actually play the game every mission is boring and the difficulty is crazy. It’s like the people making the enemies forgot the protagonist wasn’t the little god of war from Saints’ Row.

    • Renegade says:

      I disagree, the difficulty made the game so much more immersive and fun. It forced you as a player to fight as a gueririlla against a much more numerous and better equpped foe instead of running around as a one man super soldier army.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m not sure what’s immersive about the enemy troopers spawning from thin air in droves. Except in Saints Row 4, I suppose, since you’re literally in a computer simulation in that.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s not that hard. You just have to not get shot.
      Normal difficulty is about right for most of it. I would agree that balance is a bit off, particularly around ordinary firearms. Enemy troops are tough and you can’t carry enough bullets or deal enough damage for an extended engagement, particularly early on.

      I suspect that at some point this game had more, if not realistic, then serious goals in its design (I detect a bit of a Starship Troopers-y sense of humour lurking in the background, particularly in disturbing nutters like Jenkins). As a guerrilla fighter you can’t take the enemy head on. You’ve got to sneak in, make a big mess and run the hell away.

      Hard difficulty isn’t well implemented, I find. You do feel it’s just impossible pretty fast. You also really feel you’re exploiting the game’s shortcomings just to survive, which is bad. It’s a pity because one of the ways it gets harder is just by ramping up the numbers. Not just enemy numbers but everyone, which can make some engagements headgrabbingly insane and awesome, but just too hard.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    wrong thread

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    particlese says:

    The only bad things I easily remember about this game are the over-sensitive vehicle controls when using a mouse (can be adapted to) and its horrifically compressed audio for speech, particularly for the character who upgrades your weapons. “Sam”, I believe her name was, which is a terrible name to have when sibilance is completely butchered.

    There were so many good things about this game, though… I’ll go for an AI quirk since the destruction has ready been established as The Best. I was running across a crater-pocked field just for something different from the standard vehicle-based travel (running-with-a-sledgehammer simulator, ahoy), so the game did its usual thing to help me find more fun: Make an NPC drive a car out to you and leave it there. This time, I was standing in the middle of a crater and turned around just in time to see:
    1) the car rocket over the lip of the crater
    2) the NPC casually climb out of the flying car and fall to the ground
    3) the car fall on me, taking a nice chunk out of my health
    4) the NPC yelling “look out, asshole!” at me or somesuch
    It all happened over a second or two, and I laughed so hard my eyes got all soggy.

  20. Garibaldi says:

    I remember the time i ambushed a convoy truck with explosives and mines and one of the 8 feet high wheels rolled down a hill, where i happen to be standing, crushing me instantly. I think the best missions were the jailbreak ones, it was just enjoyable to make your own exits and then destroy the building as it fills up with EDF trying to chase you down. The main missions were more the formulaic GTA style tripe that got old 10 years ago.

  21. Dave L. says:

    One thing about the story that I still feel is underappreciated is how insanely subversive it is. Your brother gets killed in an air strike and you’re profiled and targeted as a member of the terrorist resistance, which actually leads you to join it.

    You spend a significant portion of the game destroying civilian targets (refineries, mining operations) and infrastructure (bridges, power plants). There’s even a mission where you are tasked with assassinating a group of civilian businesspersons who are meeting in an under-construction office building, which is one of two identical buildings, which are also the tallest buildings in the game; and the most efficient means of completing the mission is collapsing the building. There is no universe where Alec Mason and the Red Faction aren’t terrorists, but they’re the heroes of the game!

    It also has The Greatest Tank in the History of Tanks in All The Universe

  22. shark jacobs says:

    When you cause collateral damage it just lasts and never gets repaired.

    I found something powerful and understated and emergent there. The open world is a pretty shallow (aren’t they always) but there was some kind of buildings and some pipes near one of the safehouses which got damaged in a firefight and everytime i go past it reminds me of the lasting collateral damage incurred by my fighting the good fight. These weren’t EDF facilities, they were just some nearby structures that had the bad luck of being nearby when an EDF patrol came across me.

    Another time I had been blowing up some EDF barracks or something and was fleeing the scene and being pursued so I stopped and blew up a bridge behind me to cover my escape. Now the bridge is destroyed and every time I need to pass through there I have to try to drive down into the ravine and find a way up to the other side. Everyone else who wants to travel along the road has to do the same thing, I have actively made life worse for everyone who works or travels along there.

  23. Garibaldi says:

    Also while your doing Jenkins last mission he starts going off about how hes decided to support the edf and then the next Edf courier you have to kill is him in his crazy chariot thing. I got a kick out of that. “Is that….. Jenkins???” And this was apparently the same character from Call of Duty Black Ops. little known fact.