Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Clean and Righteous!

If Battlefield: Bad Company taught me one thing, it’s that blowing stuff up is awesome. I’m not just talking about your standard video game explosions where only vehicles and infantry are damaged like a Halo game; I’m talking deforming terrain, destroying buildings, all that good stuff. Volition, makers of Saint’s Row 2, seems to have taken a page from Bad Company (and their earlier Red Faction games), and realized that you can have some minor deficiencies with the game as long as the core mechanic is solid.

Well, they nailed it. The destructible environments in Red Faction: Guerrilla, powered by the GeoMod 2.0 engine, are really entertaining, and being able to take down a huge building with nothing but a sledgehammer and some perseverance is nothing short of extremely cathartic. Sure, the controls are floaty, and the story is nothing to write home about, but the main element of the game is so much fun that you won’t really care.

The jist of the story is that you’re playing a recent immigrant to the red planet named Alec Mason, who arrives only to find that the Earth Defense Force, the good guys in the first two games, have basically become space Nazis, and have forced the entire population of Mars to perform slave labor to bump up the struggling Earth economy. Nobody is really happy about that, and the mantle of the Red Faction has been taken up again, and your brother is a member. Of course, the EDF knows this, so they whack him, and set out to arrest you before a guerrilla strike team shows up and rescues you. Naturally, you’re pissed off, so you hook up with the Red Faction, and set out to make life miserable for a number of cookie-cutter military types. There’s some sort of intelligent Tusken Raider faction, and a nano-machine forge, but you’ll find all that out by playing through the story.

To push the EDF off of Mars, you’re given a bunch of ways to become a thorn in their side. You can do raids, free wrongfully-arrested civilians, ride shot-gun in a Marauder vehicle and destroy EDF property, or just take down high-value targets. When you complete any of these “Guerrilla Actions”, the population’s morale is raised in that sector, which gives you more allies and additional ammo in supply caches around the world. If a civilian is killed during your rampages, morale takes a hit, but it’s quite easy to raise it back up.

To really make an impact on the EDF, you’ll need to lower their control of a certain sector through Guerrilla Actions until you unlock a story mission. The number of story missions differ for each sector, but the main goal is to cause enough trouble to make the EDF pull up stakes.

Single player has a lot going for it, but you’ll also find yourself spending a good chunk of time in multiplayer. The GeoMod engine makes for some really dynamic games, even if they removed sprinting and the cover mechanic. Besides your basic Death Match and CTF games, you also have the Siege game type, where you defend your structures against the other team, and then rotate to see who can get the highest score. To help you out in multiplayer, you also get access to some pretty interesting backpacks that are not available in single player. These backpacks will make you a medic, a juggernaut, and many things in between. You can also use a Reconstructor, which serves to make those valuable Siege buildings last a bit longer.

It feels as if Volition weren’t quite sure that they packed enough content into their game, so they decided to go overboard on everything. You have enough distractions in single player to keep you romping around Mars for what seems like forever, and the multiplayer has enough unlocks to rival Call of Duty 4. Red Faction: Guerrilla is the surprise hit of the summer, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least rent it.

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