Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Review: See That Building? You Can Blow It Up!

by David Sanchez July 9, 2018 @ 11:42 pm

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

I’m trying to figure out exactly why a Red Faction: Guerrilla remaster exists. Sure, the game was kind of underrated when it launched in 2009, but even then, it was pretty clunky and had a few issues. Unless this is leading up to a sequel or reboot, the game’s re-release raises a few questions. But you know what? Who cares about any of that, really, when it’s just so much fun to blow stuff up in this game?

Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is the poorly titled remake of Volition’s set-in-Mars explode-a-thon, and while this release suffers from some serious hiccups, it’s hard to deny that it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. Most of the time, anyway.

Before we jump into the gameplay of Red Faction: Guerrilla, it’s best to briefly talk about the very little story the game tries to tell. You play as Alec Mason, a dude whose brother gets killed by the Earth Defense Force. Because you want revenge — and I guess because you want to be a freedom fighter, too? — you join the Red Faction, a rebel group that’s all kinds of anti-EDF. That’s it. That’s the story. Here’s your big-ass hammer and some bombs. Now go blow everything up!

It’s important to emphasize the blowing up of things in Red Faction: Guerrilla, because that’s easily the game’s best feature. The shooting never feels entirely right, and the driving is way too floaty. Though the game was originally released nine years ago, these aspects feel much older than that. In fact, shooting an assault rifle or shotgun doesn’t just feel off — it’s straight-up bad. Aiming is never as smooth as it should be in this type of third-person shooter, and there’s way too much recoil. As for the driving, it’s clumsy and slippery.

But then … Oh, but then!

Whenever you get your hands on a rocket launcher or remote charges, that’s when the game gets really fun. Crazy explosives coupled with the game’s highly destructible environments create a sort of playground where you can go nuts and destroy to your heart’s content so long as you’ve got enough ammunition. While this is the sort of thing that would normally be reserved for free roaming in an open world action-adventure game, most of the missions in Red Faction: Guerrilla involve blowing up buildings. The game promotes destruction like no other.

Oh, and if you run out of explosive weaponry, fret not, because you always have your trusty hammer at the ready. I know, a giant sledgehammer sounds really dumb, and it kind of is, but it’s also a great tool for tearing down walls and sending EDF soldiers flying. During moments when I wasn’t too outnumbered, I seriously preferred chasing down bad dudes with my hammer than using an assault rifle from behind a wall.

Oh, yeah, and as not-too-great as the driving is, it’s always — always — a blast to drive through EDF-controlled buildings when your objective requires you to tear down these landmarks. It’s not exactly something a “hero” would do, but Red Faction: Guerrilla throws out heroics in favor of pure, unadulterated explosive rebellion.

There are a few issues with this, though, and they mainly come in the form of the game’s rigid AI. Even on the normal difficulty setting, enemies’ aiming is ridiculously accurate. You’ll be gunned down within seconds if you’re not careful and constantly hiding behind cover. While I’d like to say that you can just fire a missile at enemies — you can do that, by the way — if you don’t play at least moderately carefully, you’ll be overwhelmed and forced to restart your mission.

Speaking of, it’s never fun to go back to the start of a mission, and that’s due in part to the game’s load times. They’re quite lengthy, and in a game where all you want to do is let loose and make all the things go BOOM!, that’s a problem.

Red Faction: Guerrilla includes a few multiplayer modes (which I didn’t get to play pre-release) and the destruction-only-themed Wrecking Crew mode. The latter is there for folks who like to go to town on the game’s destructible environments without the annoyance of EDF fire. For me, even despite the EDF being a real pain, Wrecking Crew mode wasn’t all that fun since there wasn’t a real goal or at least an objective-based challenge.

Though it’s been updated for modern hardware, visually, Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered isn’t a great-looking game by any means. The lighting’s nice, but textures and character models are very much last-gen, which, in all fairness, is to be expected as this is a last-gen title. Other presentation issues include stutters in performance and some really stiff character animations.

There are three types of people I would recommend Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered for. First off, the die-hard fans of the original who want to play the game again. Second, folks who are genuinely interested in the game’s mechanics and that missed out the first time around in 2009. And lastly, people who just need a good wrecking sim to de-stress after a long day at work. Even if it’s your end goal to get through the game’s story, the whole thing is more of a fun-time diversion than anything else. But hey, that’s okay, because sometimes that’s all we need our games to be.

Score: 6 out of 10

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