Originally released back in 2009, Red Faction Guerrilla was the third installment in developer Volition’s Red Faction franchise. A huge change from the previous games in the series, Guerrilla moved away from being a first-person shooter to a 3rd person action adventure across an open world environment. The standout feature of the games has always been its Geo-Mod (Geometry Modification) engine. This allowed players to actually destroy parts of the play areas which was pretty revolutionary at the time. While the original Red Faction and Red Faction II allowed for environmental damage like blowing holes in walls and floors, Red Faction Guerrilla dropped that in favour of much more detailed destruction but only on the buildings and manmade structures thought the world. While these changes made Faction fans concerned before the game’s release, Guerrilla is now widely considered to be the highlight of the series.
That brings us to 2018, where THQ Nordic has brought on developer Kaiko to give the game a new lease of life on current gen consoles. Much like with their work on Darksiders Warmastered Edition, Kaiko is cramming in lots of graphical upgrades with reworked texturing, increased resolution and improved lighting & shadows. Is it enough to let the old dog stand tall with the young pups? Read on and find out.
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Size: 25.52 GB
Genre: Action & Adventure
Developed by Kaiko
Published by THQ Nordic
Reviewed on Xbox One S; Also available on PS4 and PC.
The year is 2125 and the Earth natural resources have all but run out, so mankind (or more specifically the Earth Defence Force) is mining the planet Mars for all it has got, to keep up with the home planet’s ever growing demand. Of course, all this mining requires a lot of labour but the EDF has thought of that too by enlisting the Martian colonist’s “help”. Through tyrannical rule, the Martian people are forced into a perpetual state of slave labour. However all hope is not lost, the revolutionary “Red Faction” has reformed to repel their Earth based oppressors and bring freedom to Mars.
You are cast as Alec Mason, a mining engineer who has just arrived on Mars to start a new life. Not long after, tragedy strikes and Alec finds himself on the wrong side of EDFs rule. Rescued by members of the Red Faction, he soon joins their ranks as a freedom fighter, taking on the EDF, seeking justice for Mars and his own revenge.
At its most basic, Guerrilla is about finding a vehicle, driving across the harsh Martian landscape to your chosen destination, and then bringing the whole place to the ground by any means necessary. But to think that’s all there is to it is to do the game a disservice. There are many mission types throughout the games campaign mode, and they are not all about blowing everything up. They include but are not limited to surveillance operations, where you need to follow an enemy vehicle without being seen, defensive missions, where you have to protect Red Faction strongholds from a seemingly endless supply of EDF troops, and in one particular case, you had to break in to an EDF facility, steal a “Walker” mech suit, then smash your way to the waiting flatbed truck and once the Walker is loaded on, the mission turns into an on-rails shooter as you take out the pursuing EDF airships and tanks to ensure your escape.
The numerous vehicles available drive reasonably enough and each feels sufficiently different to control. From the slow but very solid (wall breakingly so) trucks to the nippy little dune buggies and the armour EDF cars with roof-mounted gatling guns, each have their own pros and cons and your choice will make a difference to the ease of the task you are currently undertaking. They are not the only tools at your disposal, however, as alongside your trusty sledgehammer (which I’m guessing is made of the same stuff as Thor’s, going by its unbelievable power) you’ll gain access to a lot of firepower. Sure there’s your stereotypical assault rifles, pistols, shotguns and sniper options but then there is the explosive joy of Proximity Mines, Remote Charges, and Rocket Launchers. After that, we get to the more “sci-fi” weaponry which I don’t want to spoil for you, but I will mention the Arc Welder which is like fire pure lightening which and when upgraded, can cleverly only target enemies while avoiding allies.
Now time to discuss the meat and gravy of the game, the destruction. Having fully breakable environments invites a lot of freedom to how you negotiate your way through the missions. Do you get yourself a gun-toting tank and follow the dirt trail and take the enemy head on? Maybe you find yourself a truck and simply use it as a step up to one of the perimeter fences and (semi) quietly go in on foot and catch the enemy unaware. The exhilaration of planting some explosives in some key places of a structure, clicking the button then watching a beautiful domino effect of devastation never gets old. Neither does that feeling when you are being chased by soldiers and you’ve run out of ammo so you use your sledgehammer to smash a hole through wall after wall after wall until you are able to get clear.
The main option for solo players is the story lead campaign, where you are tasked with taking back territory from the EDF one piece at a time. This is done by completing missions, taking out important targets around the map or successfully clearing the many side quests, all with the idea of removing the EDFs presence from that part of the world. Once you sufficiently cleared the area, the next territory opens up and the story continues. Outside of the ongoing adventures of Alec Mason, you also have access to the DLC campaign Demons of the Badlands, where you plays as Alec’s Red Faction friend Samanya but back before the events of the main campaign, when she was just a young Marauder. Included here are some additional vehicles, mission types, and weapons.
Stepping away from the narrative portion of Guerrilla, there is also a mode called Wrecking Crew. This is a collection of game types to show off the incredible Geo-Mod engine to be played either on your own or with friends, taking it in turns to get the highest score. The Wrecking Crew modes are:
Total Chaos – Sixty seconds, unlimited ammo and a whole lot of high standing structures… go nuts.
Rampage – Do as much damage as possible in 3 minutes with the caveat that every time you fire a shot or use your jetpack deducts further time from your counter.
Escalation – Do as much damage as you can to win a round with a limited amount of ammo. However, with each round, both your time limit and ammo increases.
Behemoth – Pick one of the Walker mechs and destroy everything you can in a short time period.
Barrel Dash – You’ve got sixty seconds to blow up five red barrels strewn across the map, with bonus points given for any additional blue barrels you take out too.
Challenge – Work your way through level-specific challenges and compare your high scores online.
Along with pass the pad fun of Wrecking Crew, there is also the option of online multiplayer and a whole load more game types to try out. There’s Anarchy, which is your normal deathmatch styled free for all, then Team Anarchy/Team Deathmatch. Then there’s Bagman, and its Team variant, where the objective is to grab the “bag” and hold on to it for as long as possible. Then there’s Siege, which has its own collection of 6 maps, where one team has to destroy a load of structures as fast as possible while the opposing team tries to stop them, at the end of the round they change roles and play the level again. It’s the fastest time/highest score wins. There are two other modes being Team Objective which consists of a mix of game types like deathmatch, capture the flag and Damage Control (the teams fight over 3 targets) and Large Mixer which is basically the same but with even more players.
While the modes themselves may not be especially unique to players, especially now nearly 10 years after its original release, but playing them in destructible environments does add an enjoyable twist to the proceedings and a whole lot of chaos can only be a good thing.
Developer Kaiko has done a decent job of bringing the game up to date on the current systems. While not on par with “true” current-gen titles, the increased texture, and lighting make the game look genuinely pretty in places but there are certain things that just remind you that it’s a decade old. The low polygon characters, while being a vast improvement over those seen in the initial release, still look relatively simple. The world design is quite strange too as the dust filled wasteland made me feel more like I was in yet another apocalyptic future like Mad Max as opposed to traversing the surface of a completely different planet. Still, one thing you can’t complain about it’s the Geo Mod engine. The level of destruction and physics on display here is top notch and for those whose are getting tired of waiting on the explosive promises of Crackdown 3, Red Faction should definitely scratch that particular itch.
The music in Red Faction really surprised me, the quality of the score here is so far above what I was expecting from a game about blowing stuff up. It seemed more fitting to a blockbuster movie that an action video game. The use of music to ramp up tension during missions is remarkable and so fluid. You won’t notice the shift change but emotionally you’ll be going right along with it as the mission’s situation changes from the nervous approach to a fortified facility, through the epic battle and rescue to an exciting getaway from the EDF troops. It’s honestly one of the best in game soundtracks I’ve heard so massive props to original composer Jake Kaufman.
The vocals work here varies from okay to good, with only a few flat performances but those may be more to do with the script than the actors involved. The sound effects of the action itself are decent enough, with the explosions and scraping metal as the world comes falling suitably deafening with your sound system turned up.
While the story is a bit clichéd and Mars never really feels like Mars, Red Faction Guerrilla has it where it counts and that’s fun. Yes, the story missions can feel a little repetitive after a while but there is so much content available here you can always just take a break from the campaign, go online or use the stress relieving craziness of Wrecking Crew as a bit of a pallet cleanser before going back in and continuing your quest to liberate Mars. Sure there are definitely parts that remind you it’s an old game with a new coat of paint but at its core, it’s still a good laugh and with a modest price of around £27 it’s not too hard to recommend anyone giving it a go.
Red Faction Guerrilla Remarstered
- The dynamic soundtrack is awesome
- Geo Mod engine devastation
- Pretending you’re the God of Thunder with your Sledgehammer & Arc Welder
- Campaign story is a little flat
- Destruction caused during missions is always permanent
- When it shows its age