Impressions: Red Faction: Guerrilla

Red Faction is a franchise that has been largely ignored over the years, mostly due to the fact that it didn’t bring much of anything new to the table regarding the genre. Its earlier renditions were FPSs, and now with the release of Red Faction: Guerrilla, Volition is hoping to change our perception of the series with some delicious destruction and havoc. Though the game releases on June 9th, I was lucky enough to give the demo a try. What has Red Faction: Guerrilla brought to the table? To be quite blunt, a lot of the same flavor we’re used to being fed from triple-A titles. However, the sprinkles on top of the sundae are quite satisfying.

Red Faction: Guerrilla’s demo (available to gamers who preorder the game until April 23rd), contains only one mission, but sometimes that’s all a demo needs to get players truly hooked. It may seem a bit short, but that’s only because you haven’t enjoyed it a couple hundred times over. The demo begins in an open-world setting placed on Mars. You’re tasked with sneaking into a camp that has stolen giant mechs known as “Walkers” from the colonists, and returning them to their rightful owners. Immediately upon being thrown into the level, you’ll note that running, aiming, and jumping are all devoid of realism. Volition has clearly gone in the direction of pure, cartoonish fun rather than stuffy realism. Jumping is much like we find in Halo, your character can run quite quickly, and he’s carrying a giant, honking sledgehammer.

Though you may be anticipating an ambush upon walking out into the open at first, you’ll quickly discover that this base is full of NPCs who are simply walking around, making the rounds as part of their jobs. Immediately I wondered if I was actually expected to commit to a stealth mission where such silly mechanics were prevalent. That was not the case, thankfully, as I made my first swing of the sledgehammer, connecting with a solider with a loud THUD. Ah, yes, very satisfying. It was then I took note of Red Faction: Guerilla’s impressive destructive environment. To put it quite simply, if you can see it, you can destroy it. This mechanic is nothing new, as it has been introduced before in games such as Battlefield: Bad Company, but never before have I seen it carried out in such a fantastic manner. If you swing your sledgehammer into a solar panel, you’re bringing that bad boy down right now, rather than unrealistically hacking away at it and leaving a typical shell behind.

Upon hopping into a Walker, you’ll take great pleasure in stomping throughout the base, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. Rather than feeling as though you’re in a close-minded gaming world where you must play by its rules, you truly feel as though you are playing by your own, destroying buildings, vehicles, and even people as you see fit. Because of this, there were many ways I could have reached the big yellow objective marker on the minimap to my bottom left. Having spawned quite far away from the objective, it was obvious I was either going to have to smash through anything in my way or sneak. I chose the more entertaining option. Whittling away at the walls of buildings, then simply walking through nonchalantly had me giggling like a schoolgirl at its ease. Rather than complete the objective I found myself aimlessly wandering the map in order to destroy and watch the events unfold.

However, gamer instinct called, and I made my way nearer to the enemy camp, where I was prompty gunned down. A continue made me realize that simply whacking enemies in the head with my dear old sledgehammer simply wouldn’t cut it, so I would need a gun. The guns presented in RF:G are nothing spectacular, but they do get the job done if you can find enough ammo. Rather than being typical nameless and brainless baddies, the AI did a very impressive job of adapting to the destruction I left behind when smashing through random walls and buildings. If I took down a building they were hiding behind, they scrambled for cover. That, in itself was entertaining, as it felt like playing God with some helpless creatures who had nowhere to run to.

Finally, I reached the mech. Instantly, it was quite evident that all hell was about to break loose.

The mechs maneuver and perform beautifully. Both triggers and bumpers are used to swing the behemoth’s arms. Once you’ve hopped into one of these bad boys, you should know that everything in your surrounding area can be taken down with the greatest of ease. You’ll feel akin to Godzilla as you traipse through the base, stepping on soldiers and knocking missiles out of the way. The fun comes to a screeching halt when you’re forced to load it onto a truck for transportation, but the action isn’t even close to being over.

Straight after your endeavor with a Walker, you’ll be given a chance to opeate a mounted turret on the back of the truck transporting the giant. Malevolent armored trucks speed up to the back of your truck and you must take them down as quickly as possible without losing too much of your health. When you’ve had your fun toying with the enemy, that marks the end of the demo. And instantly, you’re ready for more.

All in all, I can say that RF:G presented quite the unique experience with its destructive environments coupled with impressive visuals to illustrate the happenings. However, the graphics aren’t exactly that noteworthy until you’re actually breaking something, which is completely ironic. When you have nothing to destroy and you are given such explosive power, the game can feel a bit too much like other third-person excursions, but that is not at all a bad thing. We’ll have to see how Volition has handled the rest of the 120 missions offered in the campaign mode. Perhaps this isn’t a Call of Duty or Gears of War, but much fun will be had when the game launches in June. You can count me in for the ride.

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