Sunday, April 12, 2015

Red Faction Guerrilla Review

As the third installment in an established series, Red Faction Guerrilla tries something different by switching genres, moving away from the FPS genre and into the open world genre.  Game developer Volition is no stranger to this genre due to also being the creators of the excellent Saints Row games.  So how does this trip to Mars fare?
The story follows miner Alec Mason, who has come to Mars to meet up with his brother, Sam, to mine the planet.  Once Alec arrives on the red planet, however, he sees that living life on the planet isn't easy due to the militaristic control of the Earth Defense Force (no, not that Earth Defense Force).  Sam takes you to where an EDF facility is located, and after demolishing the building in the opening prologue, the two of you are captured, and Sam is executed right before your eyes.  Before Alec meets the same fate Sam does, however, a local resistance known as the Red Faction shows up and soon Alec finds himself participating in a struggle to liberate the planet of its militaristic grip.
In spite on the summarization I just gave, the story in Red Faction Guerrilla isn't all that interesting; it primarily feels like an excuse for why you're part of this group that's trying to stick it to the man.  A couple of plot twists during the story try to keep things interesting, but you don't feel all that surprised when they happened.
Regardless, the gameplay more than makes up for the lackluster story; as stated in the intro, the game does a genre switch, playing more like a traditional open world game rather than an FPS.  There are multiple sectors located around Mars, and the main goal of each one is to free control of each sector from the Earth Defense Force by completing missions, side activities, and destroying EDF property.  There are two meters that dictate the current control of the Earth Defense Force and the morale of the citizens.  As you lower the morale of the Earth Defense Force the morale of the people will become higher.  Lowering the EDF's morale is also how you progress through the story, as some story missions won't be unlocked until you lower the EDF's morale to a certain point.  While it is an interesting concept, it can also lead to some frustration, but more on that later.
The side activities, which are vital if you want to critically lower the morale of the Earth Defense Force, will have you doing things such as rescuing hostages, participating in assaults to destroy an EDF occupied building, or taking control of a vehicle to distract EDF troops while some members of the Red Faction steal something.  These activities are fun to do but they can also create a problem when you're trying to unlock a mission.  Sometimes the side activities don't lower the morale down enough and at times, I was trying to find something that I could do in order to lower the Earth Defense Force's morale. Besides the side activities in each sector there are also buildings marked on your map which can be destroyed, these are always fun to do, considering it's less about thinking ahead and just charging on through, plowing into an EDF building with your vehicle.
Demolition plays a significant part in the gameplay thanks to some impressive environmental and building destruction.  It's not a matter of destroying a building but rather demolishing it as by blasting chunks and knocking out structures in a building will eventually cause it to collapse, which always brought a smile to my face when it happened.
Of course, if you want to destroy buildings and blow stuff up, you need weapons, and there are a good variety of them.  The weapons range include an assault rifle, explosive charges, and a plasma shotgun, but then there are the more creative weapons such as a rocket launcher that can be upgraded to fire three rockets simultaneously and lock onto targets, as well as a gun that fires rounds that distenagrate whatever they touch, be it a vehicle, building, or EDF soldier.
One other problem I had with the gameplay besides the at times frustrating mission progression system was the enemy AI.  At times the EDF soldiers can be rather aggressive, especially during some of the main missions, which often resulted in multiple deaths  Yet another reason is because the armor upgrades in this game don't feel like they give you enough protection from all the gunfire, resulting in a number of frantic moments where you'll be running around, dodging gunfire in an attempt to find a safe spot to hide and let your health regenerate.
Graphically the game looks solid, and as I said before the building destruction is some the best I have seen in a game to date, yet the game itself does look good. Voice acting, however, is rather average; admittedly it is interesting hearing Troy Baker in one of his earlier roles as the voice of the main protagonist Alec Mason, yet in this game he sounds rather bored in his performance, which also applies to the rest of the voice cast.
If you can deal with a forgettable story and some annoying gameplay problems, Red Faction Guerrilla is still an enjoyable, albeit highly familiar experience.
Final Score: 7/10

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