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One doesn’t know quite what to expect when starting Red Faction Guerrila.  The franchise has been plagued by vicissitudes of quality. The original Red Faction was a critically acclaimed, commercially successful first person shooter while Red Faction II was by and large a disappointment. Red Faction Guerilla keeps within the franchise’s futuristic Mars setting, but reinvents almost every other component.  Volition’s fresh creation is a strong one, largely due to the fundamental enjoyment provided by the destruction system, Geo-Mod 2.0.  Red Fraction Guerilla provides a satisfying single player campaign spearheaded by the addictive destruction, while the multiplayer component is a surprisingly strong addition which polishes the overall experience.

The player takes control of Alec Mason, a new immigrant to Mars seeking work among the colony’s lucrative mines.  Soon after he arrives on the planet, his brother shows him the workers are practically slaves. The Earth Defense Force, the liberators in the previous Red Faction games, has now become the leaders of a police state.  Although there is potential for a deeply immersive story, the narrative basically boils down to a simple tale of revenge as Alec seeks to punish the EDF who gun down his brother.

Welcome to Mars

Alec is persuaded to join Red Faction, the resistance group fighting against the EDF’s total control. They cannot fight conventionally against the overwhelmingly powerful enemy, thus they rely on guerilla tactics, hoping to disrupt EDF operations on the planet. Your objectives are pretty simple—destroy important EDF resources and kill any of the hundreds of soldiers patrolling the various regions. These six regions must be liberated one by one, a goal that can only be achieved through the lowering of the EDF’s suffocating control.

Via an on-screen meter, you can easily see the numerical value of the EDF control over the particular regions. By destroying vehicles, fuel depots, and important infrastructure, the control value will drop. However, in order to eradicate the enemy from the area, it is necessary to complete a series of side missions aiding the resistance in the area. Rescuing kidnapped Red Faction members and protecting strongholds against EDF attack are some of the various ways to move toward liberation.

The Red Faction non-playable characters help the player in his mission, but not a lot. When fighting in a heavily guarded area the player is often aided by guerillas in the vicinity. In order for these helpers to continue to show up, the morale of the resistance in the region must be high. This second meter shown on the screen alerts the player to specific actions that change the morale of the area. Certain actions such as killing civilians will lower the morale while destroying EDF propaganda and completing side missions will raise it. The morale meter is advertised as an important element of the gameplay experience, but in all honesty, it was of little consequence throughout the game. The aiding guerilla members usually got in the way of collapsing buildings and weapons fire which largely outweighed any benefits they brought to the fight.

The building in the background can be completely destroyed: every pillar, window, and wall.

The only help you need is weaponry. Luckily you will have an ever-growing and evolving arsenal at your disposal. There are a plethora of traditional weapons, such as machine guns, rocket launchers, and remote mines, but the best weapon is undoubtedly the ostrich hammer. This hammer, the main tool of all miners, is an amazing weapon for toppling buildings and also for killing enemy soldiers.  Regardless of which weapons the player chooses to use, demolition always unfolds differently—a testament to the enormously successful destruction engine.  There are many weapons, almost all of which can be upgraded throughout the course of the game. Upgrading weapons requires salvage, the game’s currency of sorts, which is collected among the rubble of destroyed buildings and also attained through the completion of side missions.

The side missions are spread throughout the six regions and offer varying levels of entertainment. Missions based around destruction are particularly fun while other, such as transporting vehicles, seem to fall flat. Nevertheless, by the end of the game, the lack of variation between the types of side missions made even the destruction based side missions seem less enjoyable. In addition, the fact that the player has to travel long distances in vehicles to arrive at these missions does not help alleviate the feeling of tediousness.

Get used to these types of images, you’ll see them a lot.

Despite these sentiments, the main quest line is very satisfying. As previously mentioned, the story is not incredibly deep, yet the destruction that occurs in these missions creates a lasting impression.  However, the multiplayer has the strength to outdo the single player experience. It is apparent that Volition spent a great deal of energy on creating an addictive multiplayer component. The multiplayer includes the expected death match modes wherein the enjoyment is mainly derived from the Wrecking Crew mode.  Using the destruction tools, the player must try to create as much damage in a given amount of time using specific weapons.  The jetpacks in the multiplayer mode are also noteworthy. There are many different types which give players varying perks throughout the match and also create specific points of heavy fighting which in turn allow for fast pace matches.

What is very clear to anyone who plays Red Faction Guerilla is that there is no other game quite like it. Both the single player and multiplayer are noteworthy thanks to the revolutionary destruction system in the game. The game does have some weaknesses, but because destruction is always entertaining, Red Faction Guerilla is a game that can be recommended to all Xbox 360 owners.

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