Red Faction: Guerrilla (360)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It seems odd that Red Faction: Guerrilla bears the Red Faction name at all. Outside of the Mars setting, it doesn't really share much at all in common with its predecessors in terms of gameplay. The FPS series that hasn't seen a new release in seven years is back in the form of an open-world third person sandbox game. It has some unique gameplay elements and physics, but the novelty grows stale by the time the credits roll.

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Upon its debut in 2001, the real hook of the series was its environmental destruction. You could take a rocket launcher and blow holes in the floor, ceiling, wherever you see fit. I remember plenty of ridiculous multiplayer matches that involved me making gigantic tunnels using rockets. With Guerrilla, the focus is less about destroying the natural environment and more about destroying man-made structures. At all times, you'll be equipped with a cartoonish hammer that can be used to take down each and every building you see on Mars. The physics of this destruction are impressive, as you'll take down key support areas of buildings and watch them crumble to the ground realistically. I learned too many times that the final blow to the building should be via an explosion administered as you're outside of the building. Taking it down from the inside using my sledgehammer always ended with a few tons of concrete falling on my head.

This "destroy anything" element to the game is its one big draw. It's a blast driving a car through a building and watching it crumble to the ground behind you, or strategically placing a few remote mines on a key enemy building. Unfortunately, that's really all the game has going for it. Almost every mission involves this "charge in and blow everything up" blueprint. It's a lot of fun for the first few hours, but it quickly grows stale. Side missions involving transporting vehicles and participating in small shootouts don't offer much entertainment, either.

Adding to the monotony is the Mars setting. I understand that the red planet may not be the most vivid environment, but it doesn't excuse the game for having nearly identical locations throughout the entire campaign. You'll be driving through miles and miles of red dust of varying hues, complete with dozens of nearly identical gray structures.

I was excited about this title when I played the demo, and that excitement endured through the first few hours of the final retail game. Unfortunately, it didn't take terribly long to find out that Red Faction: Guerrilla is a bit of a one-trick pony. The repetitive environments and mission objectives keep this game from being a fun action romp and reduce it to a sometimes-entertaining physics engine.

Graphics: 7.5

Sound: 7.0

First Play: 8.5

Replay Value: 6.0

Gameplay: 7.0

Overall: 7.0