Discussion The Patient Gamer - Red Faction Guerilla - AA Masterpiece

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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The next big thing.

Right now its Ray Tracing. At some point everyone was cheering Tessellation. Programmable Shaders. Bump mapping. Texture & Lighting.

Physics.

Remember when physics was the next frontier in "realistic" gaming? So many promises. So many incredible games. So much regression. Physics today means that a thrown grenade might bounce "accurately" or debris will roll around if it gets knocked over. Wasn't always like that. Used to have games like Red Faction Guerilla.

Red Faction Guerilla revolves almost single-mindedly around one basic premise: you can destroy, completely raze to the ground, virtually any and all structures in the entire game. Small houses, apartment buildings, office parks, skyscrapers. They can all be completely and utterly demolished.

This hook is built into a fairly mediocre open world set on Mars. No trees or plant life or anything else, just rolling hills with the occasional valley packed full of stuff to destroy. There are a number of "Guerilla" actions, different missions you can undertake to reduce the enemy's control of a sector and raise moral among your own troops, scattered around the map. Some involve getting a vehicle to a safehouse across the map, others involve demolishing a structure with a limited set of tools, others still have you raiding an enemy facility along side NPCs or defending a zone from an onslaught of enemy troops. They're pretty basic but reasonably varied and quite fun.

The upgradable weapons and kits are largely designed with destruction in mind. You have a standard sledgehammer as your default weapon, then remote detonation mines, rocket launchers, a heavy rocket launcher, etc. The game was missing a good grenade launcher or other "arcing" weapon that could lob explosive projectiles, but what is on display is quite decent. You also get different "backpacks" that provide powers like a jump jet, regeneration shield, a rhino charge ability, earthquake, etc. I personally found the jetpack to be a bit broken as I could often reach a hill or mountain around a high value target and simply rain death from above while being relatively shielded from return fire.

Lastly you have your vehicles. You everything from a basic civilian car to mech walkers to treaded platforms of mobile rocket death. The game absolutely does not disappoint in the ability to cause just astounding amounts of destruction from within an armored vehicle and really promotes creative thinking (Guerilla after all) in essentially carrying out heinous terrorist acts in the name of freedom. Take your remote detonation mines, slap them all over a basic civilian transport vehicle, drive it at high speed toward an enemy compound and jump out while the car smashes into whatever structure and detonates. Congrats you just car bombed someone.

The game has some deep, deep flaws however. The open world is honestly one of the most boring, barren, featureless landscapes I have ever seen (I mean it is Mars but come on). The driving physics can be a bit unforgiving, the suspensions on some vehicles are so damn tight that hitting a pebble in the road at high speeds can send a vehicle absolutely somersaulting, which can be extra frustrating when trying to complete one of the timed driving challenges. The story of the game is barely present, hardly any meaningful characterization for anyone, plot McGuffins provide the barest shreds of an outline of narrative. By the time I reached the end of the game I was so confused who the hell the named bad guy was, I thought it was some dude in space but its supposed to be some guy on the ground in a tank, it made no sense.

The most aggravating issue is how seriously the game takes its "Guerilla" moniker. For a game that feels ripe to be peak power trip, it is actually astoundingly easy to die to enemy gunfire. I get where the devs were coming from, they wanted to force you to get creative and use hit and run tactics against the enemy, but sometimes that just doesn't feel satisfying. There are definitely moments in the game where you are basically given free reign to just go ham while inside a tank or walker, but those moments can feel far and few between, especially near the start of the game prior to some of the upgrades that improve your durability. I just think even basic recharging shield mechanics or some invulnerability frames when using some of the weapons would have gone a long way.

All said and done, Red Faction Guerilla was a blast. Its not a particularly long open world game, clocking in at about 20 hours and while its core hook is a good one, there just isn't enough meat on the bones for the game not to get a bit repetitive and tedious for the final stretch. Its a real shame Volition took steps backward with the sequel Armageddon, they had the heart of a money printing machine here but unfortunately it seems the tech of the time and the budget Volition had to work with just were not up to the task to fulfilling their vision.
 

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