Red Faction: Guerrilla - hands-on

Open world, powerful weapons, two-story mechs, and completely destructible environments – these are all things on our wish-list for how to make the ultimate shooter, and they’re also some of the key features in THQ’s upcoming third-person destructathon, Red Faction: Guerrilla. In our second hands-on preview, producer Sean Kennedy and THQ’s Jerome Benzadon showed us the weapons and unique, highly demolishable environments of this third installment of the Red Faction series.

In case you forgot from our firstpreview, Red Faction: Guerrilla takes place on Mars, 50 years after the events of the first game. The Earth Defense Force has taken control and become corrupt. Your goal is to liberate each EDF-controlled sector by destroying their property and propaganda, and by defeating the soldiers.

You’re not a one-man band, either. Early on, civilians will run and cower whenever fighting breaks out. But each time you reduce EDF control, you also raise civilian morale, and the more civilian morale you gain, the more likely it is that they’ll instead grab guns themselves and fight alongside you.

The environments are all beautifully rendered, but they aren’t all your typical notion of crimson-skied, parched Mars. Because different locations are at different stages of the terra-forming process, some levels are beautifully rendered with blue skies and even some lush, green foliage (Remember that time in Total Recall when Schwarzenegger activates the reactor and blue atmosphere washes over Mars? Yeah. It’s kinda like that).

But the more interesting aspect of the environments in Red Faction: Guerrilla is the buildings in them. Each structure in the game is actually architecturally sound and based upon real-world standards. The game has real, physics-based destruction, so buildings can be dismantled based upon realistic calculations of stress, mass, and velocity. So the ways you destroy a building can differ depending on where you hit it (as in, hitting closer to the foundation of the building is more effective than picking off at the top of it, and knocking out a load-bearing wall may bring the whole thing toppling down) and the type of weapon you are using.

Above: That building WAS architecturally sound!

So, what kind of weapons would you need to fully ensure liberation from the Earth Defense Force? Red Faction: Guerrilla is packed with a wide array of fun and intelligent boomsticks that destroy, disable, alter, and even atomize structures and people. Some of our favorites include the singularity grenade, which attracts surrounding matter, be it building, vehicle, or person, crunches it all up together and eventually explodes, destroying everything to bits and pieces. Red Faction: Guerrilla also brings back the rail driver from the first game, which can sense soldiers behind barricades and kill them with a powerful, wall-penetrating blast of energy. And the nano rifle literally atomizes whatever you shoot, turning the object or person into a dazzling flurry of tiny particles. We never saw demolition look so good.

Above: Hell yeah I just effed you up with my awesome weapons

And if those weapons aren’t enough to feed your need to cause destruction, you can choose from three different sized mechs to hop on and start crushing. Each mech has its own advantages. The smallest is faster than the larger mechs, but the larger mechs are more powerful – the biggest can literally just walk through a building. So whether you’re chasing down vehicles or taking down the EDF headquarters, there isn’t a mech that can’t get the job done.

Red Faction: Guerrilla has a lot to offer for veterans of shooter-type games and even for those starting out. The control scheme is efficient and easy to learn. The game also has rich and totally destructible environments and an impressive selection of weapons. Though Guerrilla continues the story from the previous games, those who haven’t played Red Faction and Red Faction 2 can still appreciate the stunning graphics and gameplay of the third installment. We’re thrilled it didn’t try to squeeze into the crowded holiday season, but we’re eagerly awaiting its release in the spring of 2009.

Dec 4, 2008