Rebellion on Mars.
When Darksiders released on the PS3 back in 2010, pre-orders and launch editions included a voucher that contained a free, unannounced gift from THQ. After redeeming the code, I eventually discovered it was for a free, physical copy of Red Faction: Guerilla, the then newest addition to one of my most beloved childhood games. Thrilled, I eagerly awaited the copy (in retrospect, this seems now like THQ’s penultimate struggle) and enjoyed the minimal amount of time I played it. It wasn’t an FPS like Red Faction and Red Faction II, and, even though the game played well enough, it just wasn’t the same. My take on the open world destruction fest now is much different.
Red Faction: Guerilla is the tale of Alec Mason. Having recently been welcomed to Mars by his brother, Alec is soon catapulted into an all out war with the tyrannical forces of Earth, who govern their colonies with an iron fist. When the Earth forces murder his brother before him, Alec chooses to join the Red Faction and revolt against their oppressors. This leads to a number of enormous action set pieces and explosions, not to mention the billions of credits worth of damage – and, let’s not forget, an incredible amount of fun.
For Red Faction: Guerilla, you play solely as Alec as he explores the wide open expanses of Mars, limited as they may be (remember, this game launched in 2009, so the expansive map, in my opinion, is still pretty impressive). Fighting for the Red Faction is a popular cause, so you are free to ‘borrow’ vehicles from any passers-by while driving across the map (eventually, you’re given access to fast travels, which take you various Red Faction safe house hubs). Scattered across the dusty scenes of Mars are a plethora of side missions known as Guerilla Actions, which consist of stealing vehicles, rescuing hostages, tracking messengers, blowing up sites, and much more.
Your goal is to liberate each town or city in Mars on your way to dismantling the Earth forces. Each area consists of a handful of story missions, unlocked by completing a certain number of guerilla actions. As the Earth forces dwindle in each sector and the revolution morale increases, story level thresholds unlock. You don’t need to complete every guerilla action in order to advance the story (unless you’re a trophy hunter), but they’re mostly enjoyable and chaotic, and I typically stopped to partake in each one. My least favorites were the grand theft auto quests that required me to return to base in a limited amount of time (props if you can get a gold rating on each one; I was only able to do so on a couple).
Gameplay in Red Faction: Guerilla shines, even today. The controls felt a bit alien at first, mostly because they’re a-typical from traditional third person shooters or open world games. To aim, you need to click R3, which locks you into a zoomed in mode. Since you’re on Mars in a super futuristic setting, weapons range from your typical assault rifle to some pretty intense laser guns to arc welders and more. You can research a number of weapons, armor upgrades, and explosives at any Red Faction safe hub provided you have enough scrap – in essence, gold. To earn scrap, you can mine any of the 300 chunks of minerals scattered about Mars or inflict massive destruction on the Earth forces (and by completing any missions). Either way, I found enough scrap to keep me upgraded comfortably.
Guerilla’s ‘big idea’, though, was its reintroduction of mass destruction. Red Faction was once known for its entirely destructible environments. You could blast your way through any and everything in the first game (the second game limited your abilities significantly). In Guerilla, you can destroy anything but the actual Mars terrain, meaning the havoc you reap is only limited by your imagination. Since this is the case, Alec comes equipped with a deadly and upgradeable sledge hammer that he can use to topple enormous buildings or swat enemy soldiers or bandits across town. Either way, the destruction and combat in Red Faction: Guerilla is very satisfying and kept me entertained throughout.
That isn’t to say the game stayed fresh through its entirety. At its core, Red Faction: Guerilla is a very limited game. You’re stuck either completing guerilla actions or story missions and that’s it. Sure, the time trials for thieving vehicles and destructing various buildings or sites offers extra challenges, but there are so many of each mission that the experience is dulled rather than exciting. The story kept me interested, but since I stopped to do all of the guerilla actions in between each segment, it felt but an afterthought. For a game that’s nearly 10 years old, I suppose much of this is forgivable, but its remastered (or should I say, re-MARS-tered?) edition means that it’s much more relevant now.
Still, Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-tered Edition offers players an entertaining and pretty update of a well received but underappreciated game from last gen. At its lowered price point, Red Faction: Guerilla is worth your time and money, especially if you’re an avid Red Faction or sci-fi/open world fan. You’ll have yourself at least a good 30 hours of game time, depending on how you approach everything. Once you fully liberate a sector, however, there isn’t much to do (unless you’re cleaning up some guerilla actions). The soundtrack is fine, and the visuals are pretty cool. The combat is fun, and exploring all the unique weapons makes the experience interesting. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy pure, destructive environments and using them to disrupt and destroy enemies? I know I do.