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Red Faction: Guerrilla review

Get your ass to Mars

Arriving on the scene you’ll be faced with a choice – disembark and fight side-by-side with your comrades, or just flatten the structure around the EDF’s ears. Chances are you’ll favour the latter because you’re a cruel bastard, so you’ll keep your foot on the pedal and roll right on through a particularly load-bearing corner. You drive in circles splintering tables and bringing down the ceiling like an angry bull in any shop that sells fine dining wares, diving from your truck as the wear and tear finally takes its toll and blows it sky-high, bringing down the tower with it. “That was fun,” you’ll say. “Let’s do it again.” But you won’t. Not right away.

Guerrilla gives you too much to do. Just as you get bored with wrecking offices you’ll start rescuing hostages; once you’re done rescuing hostages you’ll be a shotgun-riding gunner; when you’re finished manning the gun you’ll defend a Red Faction base from an EDF raid. And once you’re done doing all that you’ll still have the story missions to tackle and mile after mile of sprawling smashable world to drive your honking great Tonka truck around. Red Faction: Guerrilla introduces the world sector by sector and offers stacks of critical targets and optional missions within each region, yet by introducing things gradually you never feel like you’ve become over-burdened or stretched too far.

It’s as if they knew. They knew you’d get bored with running into Crackdown firefights, soaking up ten thousand bullets and plowing on through to the big baddie, so they made every story mission unique. One is a cross-country drive through the middle of an artillery free-fire zone; another is a recovery mission deep within the Marauders’ Mad Maxian badlands; another is an escort mission protecting a Faction truck with a satellite-targeted cannon. Always something new.

They knew you’d soon tire of the same old Martian reds and oranges so they gave every sector its own theme, even going so far as to coat the sector of Oasis with grass and the higher peaks of Eos with snow. They knew the world they made was stark and beautiful in its way so they put the GPS right on the road in front of you so you could concentrate on the world and not the inch-high minimap. They knew you’d grow weary of a clunky GTA IV cover system and traditional FPS weapons so they built the best cover system any open-world game has ever seen – one which lets you snap to any piece of cover, no matter how ruined – and gave you the best gimmick weapons this side of the N64’s Turok 2 and its insta-lobotomising Cerebral Bore.

Some are based around brute force: missiles, remote charges, the mighty sledgehammer. Others are built for finesse: the arc welder which arcs lightning through crowds of enemies, the heat-seeking bullets which home in on distant targets, the nanobot-firing rifle which eats through steel. And within Red Faction’s arsenal is a world of options for customization and improvisation; every weapon can be upgraded using salvage recovered from wrecked buildings.

Remote charges can be used to turn any vehicle into a bomb. The arc welder can kill a vehicle’s occupants without so much as scratching the paintwork on the vehicle itself, leaving tanks empty and hijacked with ease. The singularity bomb will suck objects in before spitting them out – the explosion proportional to the matter drawn in. You’ll soon find your favorites but you’ll keep experimenting with others as new upgrades unlock new potential. Try attaching a remote charge to a Factioneer’s face and see what happens.

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Guerrilla is the surprise summer blockbuster this year, filled to the brim with gaming superlatives and free of any pretentiousness or doubt as to what it wants to be. Volition has quite possibly made the best straight sandbox action game of this generation.

PlatformXbox 360, PS3, PC
US censor ratingMature
Alternative namesRed Faction 3
Release date2 June 2009 (US), 5 June 2009 (UK)
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