2009 Reviews

Red Faction: Guerrilla

  • Review Date: 2014-01
  • Release Date: 2009-06
  • Developer: Volition Inc
  • Rating: 7.0

After playing Dragon Age for countless hours followed by the sandbox/free-roam melee-combat Prototype, I was craving some first person shooting, my true love.

Looking at the cover and and the name, Red Faction: Guerilla looked like a bit of a Call of Duty clone. Great!

But upon loading it I realised this was no first person shooter. Then looking up who created it, Volition, Inc, I realised I'm getting myself into another damn third-person sandbox game just like Saints Row 2, their previous title.

So RF:G is basically a dumbed down Saints Row 2, which is for the better. Do I want to spend another 30 hours playing another sandbox GTA-clone with countless pointless side missions, poor combat and far too much driving? Hell fucking no. But 10 hours I could put up with, as long as it's not in yet another American city. RF:G fits those needs.

The setting is Mars, in fact, which is quite intriguing. How many other games in the last decade have attempted the empty red plains of Mars? Rogue Trooper, Quake 4 and Pariah I suppose were all Mars-like, but really gave the planet justice.

Certainly getting away from driving cars around bustling San Francisco or New York or wherever the hell else GTA and the clones seem to be set, is a good thing. Unfortunately it doesn't look all that great. Which is not a surprise, as this is released only eight months after Saints Row 2. Mars isn't one huge open area, but rather a collection of zones built into the mountains and rock, with little roads, buildings etc. At first it's all good enough looking, but after a while you start to tire of the same old rocks. The zones are all the same apart from slightly different colours; one zone has a yellow hue, one a red, one blue. Not exactly distinct but it works. I just wish Volition had put some more effort into creating some really sensational set pieces. But for a sandbox game you get the usual amount of uninspired low detail.

RF:G is also a much shorter game. I was through in probably just over 10 hours. For each zone you need to do a certain number of side missions and destroy set buildings, then complete 2-4 main missions before you can move to the next zone. There's five main zones in total. One of Saints Row 2's major flaws was having to spend far too long completing side missions just to do a main mission. But in RF:G it's nowhere near as daunting. In fact in the entire game I think I did less than 10 side missions. They were no more fun than other sandbox games, so I just repeated the same mission usually, where you ride shotgun with a rocket launcher destroying as much as you can with it. Very easy to complete. Other missions include destroying shit, chasing down someone, saving some hostages or joining a raid.

Then there's the matter of destroying set targets which is one of the main features of the game. You can even use your hammer, but remote chargers, the rocket launcher or the Nano Forge (a disintegrator gun) were effective. It is fun destroying buildings and watching them collapse. Usually the physics were quite good, although there were a few times where I had to wonder how a building or bridge was still standing. In one case I'd taken out all four pillars and just a spindley little ladder was holding an entire building up. Then you can run around picking up salvage, whilst constantly getting caught on debris. The salvage you use to purchase upgrades. This is one area I didn't excel in, with hardly any upgrades, only about 1/3 available I purchased. The reason for that brings me to the main issue in RF:G... Infinitely spawning enemies. Once you've destroyed something, or are in the process of doing it, the enemies keep coming. You can't even run around salvaging afterwards because you've got constant enemy spawns to deal with. All you can do is get the hell out of there and back to your base so you can actually save them game before you die. When an enemy is alerted of your presence, you can't save the same. But this was just so unreliable, often having to drive for minutes just to get the red alert off so you could save the damn game. You could just duck around a few corners and hide, that wouldn't work. You had to be fucking miles away.

The poor saving systems gets worse, because just like in Saints Row 2 the reloads put you back at your base, instead of the actual point you saved. I don't get that. Most missions are nowhere near your base so you have to drive for fuck knows how long to get to the mission, but if you die on the mission and have to start over, sometimes you get plonked all the way back at your base. Other times the game saves as the mission starts and allows you to return to that point, so it's not too bad, but not always. And your own manual saves always put you back at the base.

Because of this and the neverending enemies, I found myself not even fighting. Most of the time I'd get to where I need to go and destroy shit as fast as possible, then run the hell out. There's no point killing anyone when more will be along soon after. Halfway through the game you also get a jetpack, which makes escapes even easier.

You can only carry three weapons at a time, along with your hammer. The hammer was more useful than it sounds, I actually melee killed a lot of enemies with it. But the rest if you have the rocket launcher and Nano Forge, they're really only useful for large objects (buildings, vehicles, spacecraft) due to low ammo, so I had one more gun slot for killing humans, which wasn't really enough. Weapon selection is also messy, having to hold down two keys instead of just pressing a number. Hell, there's only four weapons just set them to 1-2-3-4!

The story was a bit lacking in RF:G. You go to Mars, within a few minutes your brother is dead and now you're forced to join the Mars rebellion (named Red Faction) to take down the evil powers that be. It certainly wasn't as detailed as Saints Row 2.

One final issue I had was a pretty major bug where all models on screen would disappear leaving only the terrain. It was always while driving a vehicle, which made driving an invisible vehicle a bit more difficult - I could only tell where I was going because the shadow was still on screen. But all other road users, road blocks and enemies were invisible as well so a bit hard to avoid! It usually didn't last long, but it was annoying at times. Oh and vehicle handling is still just as poor as Saints Row.

Overall, Saints Row 2 is a much more involving game. The story, characters, depth is much greater. But if I were to go back and replay that or RF:G, I'd picked this game hands down. It has a much more unique setting, shorter length and more satisfying gameplay. Saints Row 2 just has too much fucking around doing mind-numbingly boring tasks, whereas the shorter length of RF:G avoids all that. It does have some save issues and the respawing enemies is poor, but I did enjoy it after a bit of a slow start.

Red Faction: Guerrilla