You have got to love people who review the same types of video games, eh? I mean, first Saints Row 2, then Prototype and now this? Uhhhhh.
Alright-ey, without further ado:
Red Faction: Guerilla (Xbox 360)
Even a gamer that's relatively opposed to everything old-school like me probably remembers the time when the new little concept of open-world games was very new and exciting. And there was a reason for it. Before GTA, before Bully, before Mafia, games felt a little too restrictive. Sandbox titles didn't have that problem - they had nearly total freedom of action and mayhem, didn't force you into the story and usually left you with a living simulated place to screw with.
Well, now it doesn't work that way. We have Saints Row, Assassins Creed, Prototype, Crackdown. It's not enough for a game to be open-world - it's world has to be interesting and it has to have a twist to it. With games like the aforementioned Prototype and its brother, Infamous, the twist was the ability to move around the playground fast and the posession of super-human abilities by the characters. With Red Faction: Guerilla, it's total destruction.
At first sight, the 2009 game looks suspiciously like a Saints Row 2 expansion pack. It's developed by Volition, the same guys who are in charge of the SR franchise, and you might think that the overall style just feels similar. But, no. The core similarities are here - a really familiar-looking HUD, a ton of additional side missions that have nothing to do with the main story (or common sense, for that matter), the same overall controls. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
You play as Alec Mason, a tragic rebellious figure... or he would be, if he was in any way relatable. Upon arriving to the now colonised Mars, he learns the true harshness of life as his brother gets killed (massive cliche) by the Earth Defense Force
2017 . After that, Mason is forced to join the Red Faction - a group of rebels fighting against the opression. If this all doesn't sound particularly engaging, that's probably because it isn't. I know, the story is definitely not the main part in a game like this, but I expected more from the guys who took the clicheed premise of SR2 and turned it into awesomeness.
Unfortunately, Guerilla's narration comes nowhere near the level of SR2. The characters are one-dimensional, the big plot twist they have is boredom-inducing and overall the rebel guys don't seem support-worthy or likeable. Not to say that there aren't any epic moments - there are, it's just that the plot that strungs them together is frankly weak.
But who am I kidding? No one came here for the story, did you? The gameplay and, specifically, the destruction is all that matters. Well, rejoice because the main feature of the game - demolition - works. It works due to a remarkable physics engine, it works because the game designers did all they could to make it significant and it works because breaking stuff is fun. Mars is not exactly perfect for destruction mayhem, per say, but there is a lot to break here. Not only that but the game designers used the destruction as the game's currency (you demolish buildings and collect scrap metal, duh) so you're encouraged to break the houses of EDF and innocent civilians alike.
How are the missions? Good. It's nice to see that Volition still value variety over polish. Even though the story is lackluster, going through the missions is fun. Hell, they even implemented stealth at one point in the game. Well, it doesn't work since rushing through with a giant SUV is much more fun and efficient but they tried.
The game is built around freeing the regions of Mars so to access the missions, you have to significantly damage the EDF by either doing side missions or breaking their stuff. The seconds is infinitely more fun seeing how this is the game's main strength. In fact, breaking a gigantic bridge at one point in the game will be the best time you'll have with it. The side missions, sadly, aren't really interesting. They remind you of SR2 but at the same time, they're nowhere as interesting as those. It's all very usual - driving, breaking stuff fast and rescuing people. There's really nothing to see in Guerilla single player after the campaign has ended.
The main hero of the game, people. No, not Mason. The bridge
Another complaint about the game is that it is too hard. At times, the game doesn't let you enjoy your demolition works because the enemies are everywhere. There is a cover system which works and the aforementioned stealth but, when stuff has gone serious, all you can do is find a house with two floors, get up and break the fucking ladders.
Okay, that actually is a lot of fun. But it does highlight another problem - the A.I. are still idiots. They're even worse here than they were in SR2 simply because in that game, there was no destruction. If you're saving the hostages by breaking a wall, you should be prepared because those morons might easily lose your track and start running to the predetermined path... where they'll be shot and killed and you'll have to do the whole fucking mission over again.
Many people call RF repetitive. And it is, but it's never boring. The game constantly gives you new stuff to play with and, although there is nothing better than your trusty hammer, using the jetpack is really fun and using the nano-gun is absolutely hilarious.
The best gun in history. Period.
When you're done with the single player, you should head to the multiplayer part of the game which is a lot of fun in its own right. Granted, the destructo-physics take a step back to the traditional shootouts but they are varied enough to be enjoyable. I really haven't played much but, from what I can tell, it is quite addictive.
One questionable thing is the game's design. The graphics look okay but the whole world of Mars is absolutely bland which is no surprise. After all, it's a gigantic lifeless space rock, isn't it? There is snow, apparently, which doesn't really change everything. The planet is still really dead although there are quite some things to explore.
So, how does Red Faction fare? Pretty good, I'd say. It's certainly not the most innovative or varied game out there but when it works, it really works. You probably won't remember the story, the side missions or the planet of Mars - what you'll definitely remember is your trusty hammer and that goddamn bridge that you destroyed by hurling cars at its support structures.
EDIT: I can't make the image less high. The thingy doesn't do anything.