Red planet, a quest for revenge, a sledgehammer and an unexplored landscape to plunder...Mars calls.
Hands up if you played the original Red Faction on the Playstation 2 or PC way back in the day. Chances are if you're reading this, you either did or are considering picking up the latest instalment in the series. I'll save you the trouble of reading through all this by proclaiming, Red Faction: Guerrilla is a bloody good game and one of the understated hits of the year. I, however, am a Red Faction virgin, so it seemed only fair that before diving headlong into Red Faction Guerrilla, I took a trip down the path of geo destruction and got acquainted with Volition Inc's Mars based action adventure demolition simulation.
It was quite evident after a few minutes researching the earlier titles that I shouldn't have bothered as the latest incarnation of Red Faction varies greatly from its predecessors. To begin with Red Faction was a first person shooter, while Guerrilla is in the third person. Think, chalk and cheese. They however have one thing in common; an appreciation for geometric modification, which to regular folks like Tom, Dick and Sally means the ability to lay waste to anything and everything you come across...literally.
While that might seem like an incredibly thin gimmick to base an entire game like Red Faction: Guerrilla on, it works...flawlessly. Largely in part to its vast, sprawling, open landscape which coaxes the player into spontaneous acts of structural annihilation. Such random acts of savagery are rewarded in the form of ore (the currency of the land), which can be harvested from defunct structures and used to upgrade weapons and armour.
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But what about the story, the plot, the very tool designed to captivate us and draw us in, I hear you say. Hate to say this, but at best it's pretty awful and at worst, it's a turd sandwich, with turd toppings, served with a side order of turd. In short if we were going to take the formal route, Rock, meet Bottom. If you insist on knowing what drives the games protagonist, then I'll gladly satisfy your curiosity, read on.
You assume the role of Alec Mason, an unwilling recruit to the Mars guerrilla outfit; Red Faction. Upon your arrival to the red planet you are given a brief, but frenetic tutorial on how to smash and level imposing buildings using your trusted sledgehammer and a few well placed explosive charges. Life is good as you impishly unleash your interpretation of Thor's hammer on unsuspecting and in most cases isolated warehouse type structures. This carefree existence comes to a screeching halt when your brother is gunned down by the trigger happy EDF (Earth Defence Force) and you become a tool for the liberation of Mars' long suffering Earth born populace. All sounds pretty run of the mill, but as an immersive experience it simply falls flat.
As a player you never fully empathize with the plight of the natives, much less your comrades in arms because communication transpires over radio frequencies and plot lines are filled in by phrases and comments made by NPCs.
The gameplay mechanics are solid, with the sledgehammer manoeuvres and shooting mechanics right on point. Vehicle handling, which I initially pegged as an afterthought (my bad) feels assured and runs smoothly. It's a game with a lot going for it, which is more than can be said for the story mode...I really can't get past how awful it is.
If you choose to sidestep this and simply go around tearing down all in your path, then Parker (your base) and its neighbouring surroundings have a lot to offer. Apart from the multiplayer mode which is surprisingly challenging, two to 4 friends can engage in a series of matchups, called ‘Wrecking Crew'. They include Total Chaos, where you're tasked with demolishing and creating as much damage as possible within an allotted time.
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Waxing lyrical about most gaming titles, may not be my style, but Guerrilla is fully deserving of all plaudits it garners and while it's evident the physics behind the game's mechanics help elevate it above and beyond most other open world games, the non-exact science of the pleasure principle ensures this is a must have for anyone with unresolved rage issues to vent, pummel and generally smash shit up. It's even better played in the dark with either one of Limp Bizkit's ‘Break Stuff' or Redman's ‘Smash Sumthin' emitting from your speakers...bliss.
8 / 10
Solid multiplayer, the art of destruction has never been so much fun, great sound effects.