Structurally Red Faction: Guerrilla is an open-world shooter, but it isn’t totally open at the start of the game and if you want to actually start exploring the surface of Mars as intended, like a destructive cosmonaut in a firemans jacket, then you’ll need to do lots of missions. Lots and lots. Do enough of them and the Red Faction commander will tell you to go to another sector – there are six of them in total, each with a slightly different type of terrain thanks to the miracle of terraforming.
For the most part, what this means is that Red Faction; Guerrilla is the same as most other third-person shooters in an open world. You have a map and marked on it are a metric tonne of missions and challenges that you can do to win favour with your peers and help crush the EDF.
The missions themselves run from GTA-style mini-challenges that tell you to cause as much destruction in two minutes as you can, for example, to helping the Red Faction repel an enemy raid. At the same time there are story missions which offer more unique challenges and help advance the plot on a more macro level – capture this mechanical walker, stalk this courier and so on.
Ok, THAT was me
To help you get across the surprisingly vast but incredibly samey surface of Mars there are a selection of cars, plus a GPS system you can enable from the map – all of which is incredibly boring and very standard for third person shooters these days.
The really unique feature for Red Faction: Guerrilla though is something that very few games have successfully tried to do before; destructible environments. Literally everything you see in the game can be smashed into distinctly identifiable pieces, putting you at constant risk of being crushed by rubble and enabling you to topple buildings on foes or block roads with debris.
Well, we say everything, but what we really mean is everything man-made can be destroyed. The terrain itself is, unlike in the previous Red Faction games, strangely resilient to your weaponry – despite the fact that it’s mainly re-purposed mining equipment. Again though, that’s what Volition say – we personally don’t see that many miners using thermobaric rockets, nano rifles, grinder-cannons or singularity bombs. Then again, the only miners that we tend to see are manic ones...
The fact that you can only destroy man-made items does cause a bit of a disconnect in the game admittedly, but from what we understand it’s more to do with the hardware and technology limitations than anything else, so we’ll let it slide. What’s more startling is the fact that Alec can smash his sledgehammer through a 3ft thick concrete wall, but un-armoured soldiers don’t even bleed when he hits them.
Explosions never get old
The destructability of the buildings, bridges and pipelines in Red Faction: Guerrilla does have flaws, obviously. Often you’re able to knock out three walls around a building and it’ll carry on standing for example, but for the most part it’s a remarkably solid technology...ironically. You can hammer tunnels through buildings just by idly swinging, block off roads by toppling wind turbines onto pursuers and even take out a whole barracks just by caving the roof in. It’s all put together quite clunkily at times and the walls do sometimes feel like they’re made of Nerf foam for the way the bounce off of soldiers, but it’s still more fun than jumping into a swimming pool full of jelly and trying to rescue some drowning supermodels.
Nor is it just the level of destruction that you can rend across the land that makes Red Faction: Guerrilla unique from other third person shooters, as the way you actually advance in the game is quite clever too. Every mission you do for the Red Faction (or EDF building you destroy on your own whim) earns you one of two rewards – either a boost in morale or a decrease in EDF control. When the EDF control hits zero then you can successfully rout the forces from that region and move onwards, though you may have to accomplish specific tasks first.
Morale on the other hand works slightly differently, with each boost in it improving the chances that the civilian population will take arms up alongside you. A higher decently high morale will see you leading a small squad on each mission, though you’ll lose some morale every time you die. Strangely though stealing cars from the civilians doesn’t seem to bother them too much – and nor does ploughing through their houses in a dumper truck.