Friday, September 4, 2015

Mars game review - Red Faction: Guerrilla

Red Faction: Guerrilla poster
Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009) is an open world (sandbox) third-person shooter game set in the universe of Red Faction computer game series. It details the events between original Red Faction and Red Faction: Origins TV movie (followed by Red Faction: Armageddon computer game) on a terraformed Mars in 2125.

The most unique and compelling feature of this game is the ability to destroy almost everything in the game world. And you can do this in a lot of ways - by crushing with your powerful sledgehammer or any type of transport, by shooting, by blowing up a charge or a chemical cistern and so on.


The story of Red Faction series is tied around the freedom fights of human colonists on Mars against an oppressive rule of Earth-based corporation - the plot line often used in Mars fiction. In the first game of the series - Red Faction set in 2075, 50 years before Guerrilla - Mars was liberated from the oppressive rule of Ultor corporation by revolutionary Martian miners (called "Red Faction") and its leader Parker (you can visit him as an old man next to his shack near a mohole in Badlands sector of Guerrilla). The allies of those fights - Earth Defense Force (EDF) - in last 50 years has become as ruthless as Ultor had been, for the interests of Earth's corporations pressing Martian society into forced labor. No wonder the Red Faction is revived. Unlike as in the original game where in open areas you should walk in a pressure suit, in Guerrilla the Mars is terraformed to the stage you can breath freely.

The main character of the game is Alec Mason, a demolitions expert who has come to Mars to reunite with his brother and start a new life. Instead he is drawn into a growing rebellion against the reign of EDF. His brother has joined the Red Faction and is soon killed by EDF soldiers, so Alec is starting to do missions for the rebels. Eventually he becomes one of the leaders of Red Faction, doing the most dangerous jobs and driving EDF out of Mars sector by sector.

In one of the missions in an abandoned Ultor base he discovers a strange device called "nano forge", which can create catastrophic nanites that can disintegrate any object. A prototype weapon is made and Alec can use it in his further fights. The "nano forge" is wanted both by EDF and the marauders (a militant group of savage outcasts which is hostile both to EDF and the colonists; later it can be learnt out that marauders are the descendants of Ultor scientists) for their own reasons and power.

When Alec and the rebels has started to liberate the central sector of Martian colonies, EDF's most fortified city Eos, one of the leaders of Red Faction betray them and EDF eliminates the rebel command center along with many rebel fighters and their commander. In addition Alec and the other remaining rebel leader - scientist Samanya - learns out that an EDF battleship is flying to Mars to wipe out all life on the planet and crush the insurgency.

Help for rebels is badly needed and as Samanya has been a marauder in her past they turn to their leader, Samanya's sister, pledging for a joint attack against the common enemy. They make a plan to combine marauders' technology with the "nano forge" to create a superweapon capable of destroying the incoming EDF battleship. Red Faction is regrouped and together with the marauders they make a final assault on the EDF's central command. Of course it means that Alec (the player) has to wipe out a full battalion of EDF soldiers almost alone :) With Alec's heroism the attack finally succeeds, EDF's battleship is vaporized in space and the colonists and marauders are celebrating a victory. Mars is free again!

Gameplay, visuals and physics

Destruction in Red Faction Guerrilla
Total destruction is the other name for Red Faction: Guerrilla
Some are comparing the Guerrilla with well-known Grand Theft Auto (GTA) on Mars. Indeed the gameplay can be very similar to that of GTA. Guerrilla ads the ability of total destruction (which is exploited excessively in the game) but are lagging behind those polished and well explained missions of GTA. Also you would want more role playing options when interacting with the game world. Guerrilla is a game of driving, killing, crushing and blowing, not of talking and enjoying Mars.

Guerrilla is not very old game (it was released in June 2009) but I would say visually it's a bit behind its time. The world is quite poor in aspects of detailed landscape features and texture richness (especially indoors). The transport quality, variety and control easiness in contrary is very good. I wouldn't expect so many different types of vehicles in a Martian colony of early 22nd century.

The game is really heavy on using physics but it is simplified to destructibility. Don't expect qualitative body motion or realistic damage to materials. As the destruction is the selling point of Guerrilla I would expect more accuracy in this aspect.

Verdict: 7/10

I'm giving the game 3 points below the max 10 because of these drawbacks:
  • As the game relies heavily on the ability to destroy and blow things up it's inexcusably that the destruction by game engine is often done improperly. You will often end in a building hanging in mid-air with only a tiny bar holding it (even in Mars's lower gravity it won't be possible), or blow up an atomic(!) bomb realizing it can't even destroy some mediocre bridge; 
  • Although "on paper" the missions are quite varied in reality you are endlessly crushing (most times it's more effective than shooting) and blowing your opponents, their vehicles and buildings. Besides your enemies (both on foot and on wheels/tracks/wings) are respawning infinitely from "empty air" (they don't come from some uncontested base as you would reasonably expect, just appear from nowhere), even in "liberated" sectors where no EDF forces should have remained. All in all the gameplay is quite repetitive;
  • Respawning is not limited to the people and vehicles. After completing a mission it's common that you will see your destroyed buildings magically reappear as nothing had happen to them;
  • The environment of the game is not Martian enough. It's hardly believable for terraformation of Mars to be in such a final stage (you can freely travel around without wearing any kind of mask or suit) as fast as by 2125 (scientific research shows it could be done in 900, maybe 300 years, but definitely not in 100 years).  Even if we assume it could be done there are only a handful of plants in the game; the vegetation definitely is not in such quantity to provide enough oxygen to run around and breath freely.
Most game critics are more generous to this game (giving it a score of 8-9 from 10). Maybe I'm too demanding because this is a game about MARS! Despite the imperfections Guerrilla is still a great game and definitely a must-play for Mars fans. Its open world freedom is the thing every Mars fan would dream of in the real world.

Video walkthrough

Here is a video walkthrough of the game if you need one (parts after 15th are not in the list but you can find them easy):


As there are plenty of Red Faction: Guerrilla screenshots on the internet I will post here only those which I've made by myself (click to view in full resolution):

Mars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshot

Mars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshot

Mars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshot

Mars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshot

Mars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshotMars game - Red Faction Guerrilla screenshot

My reviews of Red Faction series:

My reviews of other games set on Mars:

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