Way back in 2009, I remember being super pumped for Red Faction Guerrilla. I loved the original game and couldn’t wait to see what kind of destruction I could cause in an open world. True, the destruction was limited to manmade structures rather than terrain this time around, so I couldn’t dig tunnels like a wannabe tremor, but there were plenty of things to be excited about. When I got my hands on the game, I spent hours bringing down buildings on top of multiple enemies, driving vehicles straight through compounds, and generally seeing how big of an explosion I could make. I was having a blast (heavy wink).
Now, nine years after the game originally released, the Red Faction series has followed the remaster trend and unleashed the hilariously named “Red Faction Remarstered.” Get it? Cause the game takes place on Mars? Anyway, aside from some strong thoughts about that title, I also have a few opinions on the game itself.
The Pretty Bad
Okay, I’ll start with my complaints about this game, so we can eventually end this on a happy note. The rose-tinted glasses that allowed me to look back at Guerrilla fondly haven’t quite been broken, but severely cracked. There is a great game here, but it’s hidden behind quite a few issues.
First up is the driving. Holy hell, is it atrocious. If anyone has ever played the first Mass Effect, imagine a Mako that can go faster. The thought alone should be enough to make you cry. A slight bump in the road could potentially send your Martian ass into the stratosphere. If physics were like this in the real world, we would have achieved space travel around the same time the first car was made. And it’s not like driving is an avoidable part of the game. Quite the opposite, actually. Many side missions involve getting vehicles from point A to point B within a certain time limit, and said time limit isn’t always very nice. And there’s a particular mission in which the developers thought it would be a good idea to have a bunch of friendly NPCs driving near you while you’re dodging artillery rounds. I say “near” instead of “with” because these NPCs are quite literally flying across the screen in any direction they so desire. While playing through this nightmare of a mission, I felt as if the game was actually using them as obstacles rather than a plot device to show a group resistance effort. They were spawning in random locations facing random directions. And speaking of random…
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to where the enemies actually come from in this game once you are in combat. Countless times I would find myself being ambushed from an area that I had effectively wiped out three seconds prior. I don’t actually know the algorithm for enemy spawns in this game, but it really seems like enemies can spawn anywhere the player isn’t looking, as close to you as they’d like. Just finally killed the last baddie in this valley? Well tough shit, Brett, because there are now seven EDF Drones sniping you from atop that hill you just came from.
And then (heavy sigh) there’s the final mission. Now, usually I am ecstatic whenever a video game gives me a tank. Not so much in this instance. You see, the final mission involved me hopping in a tank to make it from the base to the summit of a mountain. The only thing standing between me and the objective was a metric fuckton of enemies, and then some. I may have been in an armored death machine, but even that bad boy had a breaking point. The game threw so many enemies at me that no amount of skill and precision could get me to the top of the mountain with the tank intact. And this was on the second of five difficulty settings. And in case you’re wondering, there was no way to repair or replace my tank. I ended up having to get out halfway up the mountain and hoof it the rest of the way, which was about as fun and painful as bathing a porcupine with my bare hands. There is a fine line between challenging and unfair, and parts of this game are way over that line. I didn’t feel accomplished after beating this game. I just felt relieved of frustration—Frustration that was at least made up for with a detailed world and engaging story… Oh wait…
Yeah, anyone who plays this game looking for either of the two above things should just move along. I’m not going to dwell on this for long, simply because there isn’t very much to say. The environments are all incredibly repetitive and barren, and the story of an oppressed people rising up and overthrowing a tyrannical regime is about as cookie-cutter as they come. There are two main villains that might as well use the same character model and make no more than two appearances each, and the main character goes from reluctant shithead to “okay fine” shithead. His only redeeming quality is that he is voiced by Troy Baker. In short, the story and characters are painfully mediocre. But don’t worry. Not everything about this game is a soul-sucking punishment.
The Damn Good
There is a star in the otherwise dark sky that is this game, and it is incredibly bright. I have never had so much fun destroying shit in a video game as I did with Guerrilla. As I stated before, you can destroy any man-made thing in this game, and it’s just delightful. It’s clear that destruction received the most love out of all the features in this game. There isn’t a feeling quite like placing a few remote charges and bringing an entire building down. If you want it to have a little bit more purpose than “ooh, pretty,” there are always demolition missions that time you on how quickly you can undo someone’s diligent construction work. Time trials not your cup of tea? Go take control away from the EDF by demolishing high-importance structures all over the map. It really doesn’t get old. I found myself wandering for hours just farming scrap (used for currency) just by destroying everything in my path. If nothing else, it’s some great stress relief.
There are other small joys in this game. The masochist in me came out whenever a stray piece of debris clotheslined my character straight into the ground. Then its close brother sadism came knocking when I would watch an enemy running around in a panic after I stuck a remote charge to his face. Oh, and please don’t underestimate the satisfaction that comes from obliterating someone with the sledgehammer. Really, you’d be missing out if you never tried that.
This game is a really curious case. Looking back at what I have written so far, the bad outweighs the good about three to one. Even so, I can’t recommend this game enough. It is just so damn fun to destroy everything… in the name of freedom. Sure, it may be a game you wait to get for ten bucks on sale, but those ten bucks will be worth it. You’ll get frustrated with the game plenty of times, but you’ll forget all about those frustrations when the pure stupid joy of destruction washes over you.