Red Faction: Guerrilla Review (PC)

Here’s a quick refresher for those who haven’t read our review for the console version of Red Faction or haven’t been following its PR wagon. You play as Mason, a guy just looking to earn a living on the terraformed Mars. Instead of a pick axe in one hand and lucrative pay check in the other, you end up leading the charge against planet wide tyranny and fight in the name of liberty for all your fellow down trodden miners. While the story may begin in a cliché fashion, it’s clear that’s just to get you on your way and on to taking apart society at large.

Your ultimate goal is to rid Mars of the Earth Defence Force (EDF), who at first were liberators and heroes who helped rid the red ball of the Ultor Corporation and their violent put down of the miners from the original game. Now they’ve decided to become the new Ultor in effect, and pursue a much more brutal campaign to getting what they want. You must free each of the zones in the open-world of Volition’s Mars in Red Faction: Guerrilla. You do so by undertaking missions and challenges on behalf of the Red Faction, which helps take down EDF control and can boost the morale of citizens.

Collecting salvage buys you new weapons and upgrades at hideouts.
Side missions can start from NPCs, terminals or even randomly.

As the EDF lose control of a zone you unlock core missions which are necessary steps to fully liberate an area. You don’t fight alone though, providing you’ve been keeping morale of the people high, as ordinary citizens and Red Faction Guerrilla’s show up and come to your aid when hunted by the EDF. Thanks to the PC having a keyboard and mouse it’s much easier to take on strongholds and fight off soldiers because of the accuracy the mouse gives. The game fully supports a gamepad, like the Xbox 360 controller for Windows for example, but all-in-all the clicks of a mouse proved better.

Visually the game is far superior to the console versions thanks to the horsepower you can have under the hood of a PC. You get all the bells and whistles, like anti-aliasing all the way up to 16xQAA and such, nice widescreen resolutions and can fiddle with extra aesthetic options like light shafts. The unfortunate bit is that there aren’t any options for draw distance, with the console versions dictating how far you’ll see – which is noticeable when you’re in an open zone as textures pop-in a little. Around the tight confines of caverns, of which there are plenty, everything is perfect. Generally the performance on my PC, which is quite a top range build, was flawless with not a single crash or any huge frame rate drops even when all heck was breaking loose.

Everything, with rare exception, is destructible in the game. You can take the sledgehammer or remote mines to all buildings or other man-made structures that cover Mars. You’re encouraged to let granite fly as special or high value EDF buildings are flagged on the map. It’s entirely optional to seek out these delicious and enticing targets, and they range from some crummy fuel tanks to reinforced command posts. Not wanting to let my Red Faction colleagues think Mason a girl scout, I headed off to one such heavily fortified EDF bunker in the Badlands, one of the more dangerous of zones. Breaking through was simple enough, courtesy of an EDF troop carrier that I ploughed through their outer wall. Getting further inside though wasn’t so easy and by the time I had arrived at my intended destination the EDF were at their highest alert level.

The environment can used to take down EDF just as well.
Some vehicles are mounted with weapons, which helps Mason no end.

Luckily some Guerrilla fighters showed up, and while certainly lacking the tactics and skill of a human player, they can prove a nuisance to EDF troopers that would otherwise be bludgeoning Mason. I start chucking remote mines in and around the big command building and detonated to weaken the lower floor, and to expose vital support struts. By now my brothers-in-arms were, well, dead. The EDF were drowning the centre, so a quick ‘tactical withdrawal’ was needed. Running with sledge in hand, just in case, I moved up a small hill and thinned some of the EDF numbers. Now back to my destructive masterpiece, of which I had planned to just hammer into collapse but fate provided an alternative solution... The great thing about Red Faction is that it likes its physics thanks to the incredible job of Volition’s Geo-Mod 2.0. An EDF airship arrived and these things are real nasty if you’re caught out in the open, but luckily I had a command centre between me and ‘it’.

I also happened to be equipped with one of the games heavier weapons, the rocket launcher, which I had upgraded to heat seeking. I skipped backwards, drawing myself out into the open, locked on to the airship and let fly with missile – boom. The pretty explosion paled in comparison to the resultant consequence of my action, the EDF airship – now a flaming fireball – plummeted down and crashed directly into the top of the command centre. Yep. That crash, the sheer impact of the airship, ripped through the roof and buckled the whole structure. Mission accomplished. I had destroyed the highest valued EDF target in all the Badlands and slapped major egg on my oppressors face. With the building destroyed the last of the EDF’s control in the zone fell to nothing and unlocked the final Red Faction assignment to liberating the zone, not to mention a huge morale boost.

Optional or ‘side-quest’ Guerrilla missions are specialised and let Mason perform craziness he otherwise doesn’t get to jump into. Demolitions Master for instance has you perform the destruction of a building but with a set number of tools, which could be just the sledgehammer. You’re timed with a ‘Pro time’ record to beat as well which rewards you the full salvage available. Salvage is the in-game currency and is a big focus because without it you can’t upgrade or even have access to certain weapons. It also lets you beef up Mason’s health when the option becomes available at the Red Faction bases. Salvage can be taken from destroyed buildings, vehicles, supply crates, ore mines and from both primary and optional missions. As the Mars that Volition have created is quite a vast landscape to be rummaging through, one of the upgrades is a vital ‘must have’ and that is the fast travel between hideouts. Almost as crucial is the upgrade to your in-game radar that adds enemy blips to it so you know when things are about to get rough.

As of writing, Red Faction: Guerrilla has a minor hiccup when it comes to audio channels. If your PC is set up with anything above a 2.1 sound system then you might experience the bug. Basically sound effects and other background noises ‘lose’ their positioning and a vehicle in the distance can sound like its engine is right next to Mason’s ear. I got around this by either changing from my default 5.1 to 2.1 or by simply plugging in headphones which acted as a secondary audio source. Audio in general for the game is great and it can really add to the tension when the building you’re in practically groans at the stress you’ve put it in; you know it could just ‘go’ any second – dare you stay a while longer?

A few well placed remote mines and no more EDF Convoy Station.
Everything man-made can be levelled, if you’re feeling a little anarchistic.

Multiplayer for Red Faction: Guerrilla is actually quite the laugh as not only do you get to pull off the crazy antics you would in the singleplayer campaign but you also get to play with backpacks. There are different types of backpacks and each bestow an ability to the wearer like faster running speed, or even the hilarious option of just running through walls. Couple that with your usual instinct to hunt and own other players and you can see where things can get real creative. The PC version of the game also includes the Demons of the Badlands DLC for free, which is a prequel story set before Mason arrives on Mars and gets dragged into the Red Faction insurgency. It’s entirely detached from the primary game and is best thought of as a mini-expansion.

While it’s true some of the tasks open to you in Red Faction: Guerrilla can feel a little repetitious, even laborious, they’re vastly outweighed by the sheer fun you can have taking the land and EDF apart. The story’s cliché but frankly anything that gives a guy like Mason the excuse to blow up almost the entire infrastructure of a planet in the name of ‘freedom’ can’t be a bad thing, and luckily it isn’t as long as you weren’t expecting an Oscar nominated script. Red Faction has come a long way from those miner tunnels from the original adventure, and the Geo-Mod engine has matured in a spectacular fashion. Red Faction: Guerrilla is non-stop destruction when things heat up; visually and in the action itself. For fans of the sandbox world who really enjoy a toolset of mayhem, you’d best acquaint yourself with the nearest Red Faction recruiter you can find.

Top Game Moment: Practically any time you get the chance to tear down a mouth-watering structure, but the best moment would have to be a crashing EDF airship doing the work for me. Karma’s a b*tch.

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By Nookie (SI Member) on Nov 27, 2009
this game looks good, would be keen to play it