Red Faction is a franchise that’s been away from our screens for some time. It’s original selling point, back when the existing two games in the franchise pre-Guerilla were released, was the fact that you could fundamentally alter the game environment to your tactical advantage.
Thus, in some cases, if someone was hiding behind a wall you could, in theory, just blow it out of the way. In fact there was lots of blowing stuff up, and this provided ample cover for the fairly routine games underneath.
Thus the earlier games themselves, set in the mines of Mars, were solid first person shooters, but when no word was heard of a third instalment after Red Faction 2 was released, it was presumed that the franchise had been dropped.
Not so. THQ has revived the franchise with some style, once more putting you into the mines of Mars, where you play Alec Mason. Mason is one of the workers, and is one of the many oppressed by the Earth Defense Force (EDF), so the scene is quickly set for the guerrilla warfare approach that the game’s title hints at.
Once more, destruction is one of the key selling points for a Red Faction game and, more than ever, it really earns the franchise a distinction. Bluntly, there’s nothing in the game that can’t be destroyed, and Red Faction: Guerilla, for the first time, doesn’t have technical shackles to hold it back so much.
Thus, you find yourself standing back and admiring the rampant carnage more than you should, in a way that we haven’t since we first played Syndicate Wars on the PC. Granted, the game only gives you a smattering of tools to make the most of this in the early stages, but when you get your hands on the more destructive arsenal, rocket launchers included, it’s a joy to behold. It’s worth fighting through the game simply to get your hands on the more advanced weaponry.
Yet, to the credit of the developers, the game built around it all hangs together really well too. It sees the franchise switch to a third person perspective, and successfully so. This allows a dab of Gears Of War influence to be injected, with obstacles to leap over and cover to be utilised. But Red Faction: Guerilla isn’t really going into competition with that game, simply because it’s having so much fun in its own right.
The game’s missions, which include guerrilla acts as well as deeper story elements to battle through, gradually help you reduce the control that the EDF exerts over various parts of the game world. The lower the EDF influence, the easier the missions become. Furthermore, the morale of the resistance itself comes into play, and the higher it is, the more help you should be able to call upon.
But despite these elements, Red Faction: Guerilla is an action game and one with plenty of momentum. It has some issues with enemy AI, and you can arguably find rivals that do the action mechanic better. But you’d struggle, we suspect, to see a fine game married so convincingly to a brilliant carnival of destruction as it is here.