by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
Guerilla was the first Red Faction game I ever played. I knew the name of course, so when browsing my local games emporium, looking for 360 titles on the cheap, I picked it up and thought, why not? I was not disappointed. While somewhat slim in terms of plot, Red Faction: Guerilla was (and is) mechanically a very impressive game; its combination of driving, gunplay and general destructive potential create a very distinctive player experience. So I was super jacked when I got my hands on Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-stered (It’s so awful, I know, but let’s just keep moving) as it’s almost impossible to make a good game worse with a remaster. So let me tell you more about this red-planet-based destruction derby.
You play as Alec Mason, a demolitions expert who has just arrived on Mars, planning to stay with his brother and find work. Though never exactly elaborated on, we know things are bad on Earth, but as it turns out (to Alec's surprise) things are even worse on Mars. The EDF (Earth Defence Force), who used to be goodies, have made a drastic u-turn and established a regime that is basically oppressing Martian workers. Though reticent at first, Mason joins the workers’ war of insurgency against the EDF (hence the guerilla) and the player sets about liberating the five EDF controlled regions of Mars. This takes the form of a variety of missions: rescuing prisoners, tailing couriers, destroying important buildings and just generally blowing shit up.
Red Faction was a franchise that always prided itself on the novelty of destructible environments, but Guerilla is the best that feature ever was: every man-made structure in the game is yours to destroy. You have a variety of tools to accomplish this: your trusty hammer, your demolition charges and the heavy mining vehicles used by the workers. This DIY destruction really does make you feel like a worker turning his tools against his slave-driving oppressors. It’s a lot of fun, strapping demolition charges onto a mining truck, then driving it through the wall of an EDF barracks, or carefully placing charges and hammering out supports to efficiently destroy targets. The currency that you use to upgrade weapons in-game - scraps - are also collected from destroyed buildings, further incentivising your rampage.
On top of all this, you can use the hammer as a melee weapon, and in my current playthrough I set myself the stipulation of only using the hammer. It is tough, but sprinting at an EDF trooper while they frantically reload, then hammering them with a satisfying crunch, is a pleasure I doubt I’ll ever grow bored of.
There’s a lot to love about the Mars of Red Faction: Guerilla, each area being fairly distinctive and offering unique buildings and structures to level. But sadly, the plotline of Guerilla is pretty bare-bones: you meet a few NPCs at the start of the game, but there is next to no development with them. They are basically the scaffolding upon which the game’s destruction-based mechanics hang. The game is definitely mechanically accomplished, but not so in terms of narrative. There are some games about guerilla fighters that have both a great narrative and great missions, Freedom Fighters, for example, always stood out to me (and is from the generation previous to Guerilla). But the game on the whole feels like an honest destruction-fest and I can kind of appreciate that the developers probably didn’t want to overshadow that with what might have been an underwhelming or derivative plot-line.
My general rule for remasters is that the game should look as good as I remember it (as I always remember past games looking better than they actually did) and I must admit, this remaster does look decent enough. There aren’t really any new added gameplay features or modes that I could discern, which is a bit of a shame, but the game on the whole has actually aged very well. Also the lack of new features is more forgivable when you see how low the price tag is (considering most remasters generally charge full retail price). So if you never managed to play this destructive jewel back in the day, or if you are feeling somewhat nostalgic and traded in your copy years back, I would certainly recommend a revisit to the Red Planet.
Amazing destructible environments, hammering, hammering and more hammering.
No new features, still a fairly underwhelming narrative.