Sunday, January 17, 2010

Red Faction: Guerilla - The Most Fun I've Had Wrecking Stuff Since Blast Corps

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What can I say about Red Faction? It's been out for quite awhile now, and it was actually the game I was playing the night I got blown up, so understandably, I took quite a break from it, but I just finished it the other night.

Guerilla is actually the third Red Faction game, the first two being FPS's, their claim to fame was the "Geomod" system. With Geomod Red Faction was able to give environments a level of destructability not seen before in a shooter. Famously, you could take a rocket launcher, and use it to blow out tunnels through the rock. I played the first game for a short while, before ultimately finding that the action wasn't really engaging.

With Guerilla, THQ decided to shakeup the basic gameplay model. Now instead of being a FPS, it's actually a third person sandbox, meaning that instead of progression of levels, you are dropped into a small city, much like the Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, and Mercenaries games, except you're on Mars. Guerilla stands out from other sandbox titles by giving you the ability to destroy any building or structure you see. Instead of making the ground destructable, they instead focused on creating a realistic physics engine centered around how buildings are made, and more importantly, broken. The tagline is that you can look at a building, see where it's support struts are, take them out, and then the rest of the building should fall. In practice, quite a few times I've completely ripped out one half of a building, and it's still stood until I inflicted some damage on the other side, perhaps they make them out of plastic?

Other than that slightly disappointing aspect, tearing things down is fun, and they give you lots of ways to do it. Primarily, you have a sledgehammer, which you can use to demolish anything, I tore down a great number of things with that alone, just because it's fun, but make sure to watch for falling debris. The other primary tool for demolition is remote charges, these are thrown, and then stick to any surface, which you can then detonate at any time by pressing the B button. Blowing stuff up is really the best part of the game, and thankfully, there's a lot to blow up, and there's a lot of gameplay designed around it.

Gunplay I would say is the one place where Guerilla really doesn't do a very good job, all of the guns seem shockingly ineffectual, and you are quite fragile compared to your opponents. Thankfully, your hammer is a very effective weapon, it will kill just about anything in one blow. The common combat strategy is to sprint towards your opponent, and then smash them with the hammer, if you aim right, you can take down 2-3 enemies with one swing. Later in the game this becomes a less desirable strategy, just because of the lack of cover, and the greater amount of enemies. You have two different types of weapons, one is just standard weapons, guns that you pick up off of soldiers, or explosives, the other are weapons that the you pay to have someone hack together out of other machines. My favorite being the arc welder turned lighting gun, which has the extremely useful ability to electrocute and kill everyone inside a vehicle without damaging the vehicle itself.

Driving vehicles is solid, but unexceptional, although I do love the ability to press a button and switch from driving the vehicle to sitting in the gunner seat if one's available. It just looks cool.

Because of the lackluster gunplay, the last mission is kind of a disappointment, it's essentially a gauntlet run up the side of a mountain, with an army between you and your destination, it's not completely devoid of fun, but it seems like it's purposefully choosing to put you at a disadvantage rather than playing to the game's strong points. I would have liked it more if it ended with you destroying some giant structure with your standard weapons, but instead you do destroy the biggest thing in the game, but only in a cut scene.

Aside from this main story mode, Guerilla has two other gameplay types. One is wrecking crew, which sounds awesome, but ultimately is just kind of dull. Multiple players take turns starting off with the same weapons in the same level and trying to cause as much damage as possible. It could be fun, except there's very little variation, causing it to get repetitive fast.

Also, there's an online multiplayer mode, which, like the driving controls, is solid, but nothing exceptional. I could be biased in that I don't really like competitive multiplayer typically, I really wish that it had a coop mode though, coop made Saints Row 2 and Mercenaries 2 both exponentially more fun to play, and I can only imagine how much fun Red Faction could be with a partner in crime.

Lastly, enjoy the Ballad of the Space Asshole

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