You know what’s annoying? When you’re driving a mission-critical vehicle in GTA and somehow manage to roll it, only for it to burst into flames and explode. This game doesn’t do that. In Red Faction you can flip any car, buggy, or juggernaut back onto its wheels with a few quick nudges. It’s a small feature. Tiny. Wee, even. But there it is.
Losing your car in the middle of nowhere really aggravated us too; crashing your sole transport into the side of a mountain while out roaming in the open fields of San Andreas meant miles' worth of walking to the nearest road. Guerrilla doesn’t do that either. You can run so fast you’re never more than a short walk from the nearest set of wheels. If you’re catastrophically lost, a Red Faction soldier will inexplicably roll up in a car, get out, and wander off. It’s certainly silly but at least your blood doesn’t curdle in your veins every time you make a trifling navigational mistake.
It’s as if they knew. It’s as if Volition spent every minute of every day studying every open-world game with the intention of making their own game flawless. Name any annoyance from any sandbox game and Red Faction probably addresses it. On Red Faction’s Mars every vehicle is a colossal bouncy Tonka toy which barrels around the world in a hilarious, unstoppable fashion. The minute you hop behind the wheel your truck becomes the heaviest vehicle on the road – crash into another similar vehicle and it’ll bounce off like a rubber ball. Hit a smaller truck and you’ll smash straight on through. Drive it to an enemy base and you’ll forge on like a drunken lout through a wall of bouncers, smashing walls, tearing down support beams, and reducing the structure to rubble.
Red Faction has been sold on that one gimmick, but it’s a game of hundreds of parts, all polished to perfection. The destruction is a tool, and one that will immediately ruin you for every other game ever to feature four walls with a roof on top. You’ll walk past mud huts in Far Cry 2, castles in Oblivion, bunkers in Mercenaries, and skyscrapers in GTA and you’ll want to smash them down, to carve your own paths and infiltrate enemy territory your own way. Guerrilla is freeform gaming on a level you’ve never enjoyed before, where every path you take and every tactic you choose is your own.
While ambling around the world searching out EDF structures to collapse you might receive word of a raid on a critical EDF base. The Earth Defense Force took control of Mars several years earlier and has been running wild like Hulkamania ever since, all up in everyone’s face with its 24” Pythons and worryingly tight yellow underpants. Together with the rest of the Red Faction you’ll overthrow the EDF, at first by weakening their hold on Mars and then by smashing them and driving them out of sectors as they fall under Red Faction control.
En route to the EDF base you’ll pick up a handful of squadmates in your truck. Accustomed to dunces, you’ll want to coddle them like babies, but these NPCs are smarter than the usual rabble. They’ll take cover, keep their heads down, and get themselves out of danger without any hand-holding. They’re not geniuses in danger of becoming self-aware and overthrowing humanity by any means, but in any given fight there’ll be well over a dozen characters fighting while the world collapses around them; with so much math being thrown around it’s a wonder Guerrilla has time for AI at all.