"Every now and then, simplicity strikes a chord with me. Sometimes I want to throw myself into chaos, worry more about my own survival rather than the bigger picture. I want to destroy. I want to continue to destroy without being burdened by an intricate plot, emotional fifteen-minute cut-scenes or the grating, over-rated act of thinking. "
Every now and then, simplicity strikes a chord with me. Sometimes I want to throw myself into chaos, worry more about my own survival rather than the bigger picture. I want to destroy. I want to continue to destroy without being burdened by an intricate plot, emotional fifteen-minute cut-scenes or the grating, over-rated act of thinking.
Yet, it wasn’t a mindset I planned on when I played Red Faction: Guerilla. I expected a regular Sci-Fi shooter. It started out that way, at least: A distant planet, a lone warrior, and overwhelming odds. Only your main character, Alec, doesn’t start out as a soldier, a mercenary or freedom fighter. He’s simply an engineer, one who’s traveled to the newly colonized Mars in hopes to make some money, and spend some much needed time with his brother.
The first mission finds you doing just that, venturing with him to an abandoned construction site with the sole purpose of turning it into rubble and selling the scraps left behind. During your travels, your brother Dan mentions he’s allied with The Red Faction, a group of rebels rising up against the Earth Defense Force--the once saviors of Mars who became the planet’s cold-hearted, malicious dictators once it was settled. Given your skills, Dan tries to sway you into joining him, but Alec immediately turns him down, though I already knew where the game was headed. Alec wouldn’t stay an engineer for long.
I groaned. “Great. Like I haven’t seen this before.”
It was a disdain that lasted all of five minutes.
The moment they arrived at the construction site, and Dan put the sledgehammer and explosive charges in Alec’s hand I was hooked. He stood back while I ripped through a stone barricade like it was nothing, flung explosive charges at a building’s outer structure then detonated them from a safe distance. I sat there in awe as the tower’s foundations crumbled from my sledgehammer, leaving the body of it to spiral down--sadly, right on top of Alec’s head because I was so enamored by the devastation I didn’t think to move.
Strangely, and amusingly it didn’t kill him. Alec just dusted himself off and started collecting the scrap left behind and hopped back in Dan’s dune buggy as though he’d experienced that a thousand times before. On the ride back, Dan continues trying to recruit Alec, but he still won’t hear of it. All until you return to Dan’s residence to find the EDF waiting, guns drawn, to take Dan in on suspicion of terrorism.
Though the game didn’t go into incredible detail, I liked Dan, and I liked the relationship he and Alec had. When things go wrong, and Dan gets gunned down for trying to escape I began to see why the EDF was so hated. When they threatened to take Alec into custody all for the simple fact a demolition expert had explosives, I wanted to kill each and every one of them for being conniving, controlling tyrants. But The Red Faction swept in and did the job for me, leaving all but one, whom met his untimely fate by Alec’s hammer. When the dust settled, in a very brief but powerful moment, the rebellion’s leader handed an assault rifle to Alec, signaling that his life with the Red Faction had begun.
That was the last cut-scene I would see for a while, yet I was thankful for that, because it didn’t exaggerate things. It didn’t show Alec clutching Dan to his chest, screaming into the sky, and then follow it with three or four more scenes to demonstrate Alec’s angst. It gave me a little bit to get me interested, and then drew back to allow me to focus on its main selling point. This game is about destruction and chaos, and it does those two things so well you may forget about the story all together. Yes, your eventual goal is to drive the EDF out of mars, one section at a time, and the story missions allow you to do that, but they actually make up a small percentage of the game.
Red Faction’s real entertainment value lies in side-quests and mini missions. The main premise of Faction is to break down the EDF bit by bit, crumble their morale until they’re completely hopeless, and left with no other option but to remove themselves from the current section they’re in, thereby liberating it. This is done in one of two ways: Random, mindless acts of chaos where you destroy buildings, windfarms and even signs--anything that supports the EDF. The other option is to take on the seemingly countless side-missions to instill the Faction with hope, while you tear apart the Earth Defense Force’s mental stability.
In seeing how many actually existed on one map, I worried that Red Faction would become dull and dreary. The missions are abundant, but they’re also incredibly varied and well-thought out. Take for example the invasion missions: You lead a team of Guerillas into a forward area, clean it out by any means necessary, then destroy the main building. The game has you doing this several times--quite possibly a dozen--and yet I never got bored. Red Faction gave me more freedom than a lot of action games I’ve played because it had one set goal in mind, but countless ways to achieve it, allowing me to write my own destiny. Sometimes I would chase through the outpost, duck behind supply crates, killing every single soldier before I focused on demolition. Other times I would let my AI teammates provide cover fire while I snuck around, planting charges and detonating them, blowing the building sky-high with people still in it.
Convoy missions also allowed me a bit of freedom and excitement, though they were more mandated by the game. They usually start when you’re halfway across mars, and you have to find the a specific vehicle and race across the red planet in order to get there on time. Once you close the gap, you’re sometimes instructed to follow the convoy, other times to destroy it. Destroying it, of course, is more amusing because you’ve been gathering speed for miles and hitting something with that pent up aggression is much better than hitting the brakes.
Though my favorite one had me riding shotgun with the crazy, gung-ho Jenkins. While he was cruising around Mars in his dune buggy, I was in back manning the mounted rocket launcher, bombing anything marked EDF trying to cost them 35-million in damage.
They were so mesmerizing, even when I had done enough to unlock the story missions, I kept going, because destruction has never quite been done like this.
Faction’s collision detection is superb, and its engine so incredible I never saw the same thing twice when taking down a structure. A building would go down with a few well placed bombs sometimes, others times I had to hack through its foundations one by one. Towers would respond just as randomly, hanging there by a single steel girder, then without warning it would crumble into a pile at your feet or they would rarely, and luckily topple down to crush the building I had set my eyes on.
Everything you destroy leaves behind scrap metal, that you can collect and use to purchase armor, more ammo, potent bombs or even new weapons like the rocket launcher or the Grinder--a weapon the fires sharp blades that cut through armor and your enemy like they were made of paper. I spent hours upon hours blowing things up, collecting the salvage, upgrading then coming back to blow something else up bigger and better. On the rare occasions I got bored with explosives (like…twice) I’d swing through the buildings brick-by-brick with my sledgehammer.
Occasionally I’d do the same to soldiers because of Faction’s one downfall: It’s almost too easy at first. I intentionally tried to get overwhelmed, or I would run up and smack an enemy with my hammer even when they were filling me full of lead because using my guns seemed unfair, and I needed a challenge. Rarely did I fail a mission, or get killed because my health was too high, and the objective too lenient. Then again, I wonder if that was all an intentional ploy set by Volition, to make you anxious and add to the chaos--the thing this game thrives on.
It was addictive, unique and filled with endless destruction. Yet it carried a premise and structure that was so creative and varied it kept me entertained every second. It was the furthest thing from entwined characters and deep, epic storylines but once I started playing I realized how much I missed mindlessness. Every now and then I just want to break things.
And Red Faction: Guerilla is the perfect game for that.
Community review by True (August 04, 2009)
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