Game Review: "Red Faction Guerrilla"

1/21/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, David Voyles

Now that the rush of holiday blockbuster titles is over, I felt it was appropriate to take a moment and review a title that easily could have  been lost in the rush like a visiting tourist in Times Square--"Red Faction Guerrilla."

The Red Faction series got its start on the Playstation 2 in 2001 and was renown for its groundbreaking technology at the time, literally. The GeoMod, as it’s known, allowed players to destroy nearly any environment in their path to get to other sides of levels. I remember digging series of interconnected tunnels for hours with friends in attempts to create mazes and then duke it out in there. For the first time, destructible environments were truly destructible.

This time around the environments are destructible but in a different way. The new GeoMod 2.0 now allows players to completely topple building and structures instead of just terrain. Basically, anything gamers can see can be destroyed. Should the player run out of ammunition or explosives, the trusty sledgehammer is always by your side. By taking out key supporting features, buildings topple quickly. For the most part this is the game’s greatest asset and its greatest selling point, but it unfortunately grows old after a few hours. Nearly every mission in the game revolves around destroying key structures, or picking up a vehicle and returning it to base, just as in GTA IV.

The story is nothing worth noting other than it quickly opens with your character, Alec Mason, assisting his brother, a guerrilla, with the forces skirmishing against the Earth Defense Force soldiers; they have taken over Mars and are having their way with the workers. Once your brother is assassinated, it’s your turn for revenge. From then on out, you are recruited by the guerrilla forces to assist them by completing a series of missons that appear as colored icons on your screen. The major premise consists of controlling six zones of the map by boosting guerrilla moral and reducing EDF forces by killing soldiers, destroying buildings, and assisting guerrillas scattered throughout the map as they fight against the forces that be.

The game's developer, Volition, does a surprisingly good job of bringing a terraformed Mars to life. Citizens are bustling in their daily work and driving routines, and soldiers are out and about to keep the peace and hold the warring guerrilla faction down. While not much can be done in terms of the overwhelming red appearance, Volition has created an engine with excellent draw distance, realistic smoke effects, and the sense that players are frequently caught up in dust storms. The only time I ever saw slowdown was when I was reigning pure destruction upon multiple structures at once, but that is understandable.

I have to commend Volition for thinking outside the box and creating a unique engine that otherwise would make this a standard sandbox third-person shooter. I wish more games would use something like this to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market and help push innovation. While it was a taste of something different for a bit, it’s not a taste I would like to have in my mouth for long. If you’re looking for a sandbox shooter with a little flavor thrown in the mix, I’d recommend "Red Faction Guerilla."  Beyond that, this one gets by as being just a generic third-person shooter.

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