We recently had an opportunity to go hands-on with the upcoming Red Faction: Guerrilla and get some significant time with the game. We brought you our multiplayer impressions a few days ago, and wanted to finish off our two part series with a taste of the deep single player campaign featured in the game.
The original Red Faction debut in 2001, and was based on Mars. It told the story of Parker, a man who incited a rebellion against the evil ULTOR Corporation responsible for mining operations on the planet. A distress call eventually goes out to the Earth Defense Force, the antagonist in the latest rendition of the series. This was the first game to take advantage of Volition's Geo-Mod technology, an engine that is designed to support destruction of the environment. Albeit primitive compared to what the team has done with the latest incarnation of the series, it was what got the ball rolling and has evolved into a very different game.
Red Faction: Guerrilla, the third entry in the series, brings us back to Mars. Over the last fifty years, the Earth Defense Force has become an empire that's sold its soul, a military overseer that's willing to do whatever needs to be done to earn a buck. Even if that means ignoring basic human rights and killing anyone who opposes them. You play as Alec, a miner dragged into the resistance fight after the death of his brother by the hands of the EDT. An expert in explosives and demolition, you're a useful fighter in the resistance as there's a lot of stuff that needs to be blown up.
The single player world is an open sandbox, divided down into six sectors, each with their own style. I had a chance to take the campaign into Parker, Dust, the Badlands, and Oasis. As you progress through the story, you'll eventually have to make it through the Free Fire Zone without getting bombarded by the EDF, and into exclusive EOS sector, the outermost community reserved for the most wealthy and powerful colonists. The mission structure is quite innovative, each of the sectors contains a wealth of EDF owned properties, as you destroy those properties you'll slowly loosen their control on the sector. On the map you'll also find larger more lucrative targets, medium and high impact facilities that come heavily guarded. As you destroy these structures, eventually the EDF's control meter on the sector will hit zero, and it'll become liberated. This is required before the final mission in each sector will unlock to progress the campaign.
As well as the standard missions, you'll find a wealth of "Guerrilla Actions" available. These are optional side missions that will increase your support within each sector from the civilian population. There's a wide variety of objectives, a few examples being rescuing captured hostages, providing security escorts, intercepting an EDF messenger, or destroying enemy convoys. As your support in each sector increases, the likelihood of the locals coming to your aid in battle does as well. This can be a real difference maker in some of the longer missions.
I briefly covered the Geo-Mod technology in our multiplayer preview, but I need to re-iterate how it really is the heart of Red Faction: Guerrilla. The game focuses on destruction, it essentially hands you a box of loaded mines and tells you to go nuts. Nearly every structure in the world can be destroyed; you can meticulously pound away with a servo-powered sledgehammer and knock out its supporting walls of a building, or simply strap on a few singularity bombs and watch it crumble. The Geo-Mod 2 engine features destructive capabilities unlike anything I've ever seen in a game, not only is it a lot of fun to watch but it never gets old. I put almost ten hours into the campaign, and could barely put the controller down when my time ran up. Whether you're taking out a power plant, a heavily defended town hall, or a massive bridge, the destruction plays a huge role and is easily biggest selling point of the game.
Vehicles play an important part in Red Faction: Guerrilla, as aside from providing a means of transportation, you'll find they make for a very useful weapon. You'll find all sorts of mining related equipment, from heavy haulers to dune buggies, some with turret mounts. For the most part, civilians will happily offer their vehicle to you to fight against the EDF regime, and you can always hop in an unoccupied EDF vehicle should the need arise. Pick up enough speed, and the vehicle becomes a battering ram, blasting through walls and taking structures down. Strap a few mines on the front of a badly damaged vehicle and take a leap of faith before it plows into the building for some ultimate carnage. You'll even come across tanks and a special mech which has the ability to crush approaching enemy vehicles, or blast them backwards and flying through buildings. It's quite a sight to behold and even more fun when you're behind the controls.
The destruction is only as much fun as the weapons used to cause it, and aside from the vehicles, you'll find a wealth of weapons that should suit even the most discriminative of tastes. Your trusty sledgehammer is your best friend, pounding out support columns and walls, it's servo-charged and packs a hell of a punch. You'll find the typical assortment of guns, pistols and a standard issue assault rifle, as well as more improvised weapons such as an arc welder. Later on in the game, you'll unlock a juicy nano rifle, with the ability to disintegrate matter (both people and structures); taking out a building's structural supports from a distance is a useful skill. In terms of explosives, you'll get an opportunity to use remote mines, proximity mines, and the oh so beautiful singularity bomb. The game also features backpacks, which provide short use special abilities. A few examples are the jetpack, which allows you to fly in short bursts, or the Rhino pack which allows you to blast through walls and knock out unsuspecting enemies. Combined with a sledgehammer, that's a lethal combination.
Throughout the game, you'll find yourself collecting valuable salvage from destroyed structures and vehicles, which you can trade in to research new weapons, improve your armor, enable a new ability, or provide weapons upgrades. Among these upgrades is increased ammunition, or simply allowing a greater number of simultaneous charges to be placed at one time for a more strategic attack. It's a fairly simple upgrade system, but seems to fit its purpose and does provide an incentive to go hunting for salvage.
Given I had nearly ten hours with the single player campaign, with few exceptions I found it hard to put the controller down for a break. My only major complaint in the build was that the control scheme (notably the trigger hold and button press) used to change weapons a bit sluggish, which resulted in a few unnecessary deaths. The vehicles and on foot controls handled pretty well. The third person perspective took a little bit of getting used to (notably for targeting enemies), but after a bit of play the controls felt pretty natural.
That isn't to say there wasn't a few moments I had to restrain myself from throwing the controller across the room. A few of the missions are particularly tedious and frustrating, especially as checkpoints are very limited and several of the missions are quite long. But to be fair, these moments were few and far between, and could be corrected prior to the game shipping. While this was a near final build, the team at Volition still has time to do a bit more tweaking so I'll reserve my judgment until I get the final release in my hands.
Set to ship out in June, Red Faction: Guerrilla has the potential to be one of the best games this year. The team at Volition has done a fantastic job of building a game that simply tries to entertain, and the technology behind the Geo-Mod 2 engine is a work of art. After ten hours of play, I've been left rabidly wanting more destruction, and can't wait to see what the final build has to offer when the game releases later this year.