Nothing beats taking down a building with four good hammer swings.
Multiplayer is frantic and fun.
The story is surprisingly engaging.
The Bad stuff
Side-missions do get a little repetitive.
Lacking audio makes the world seem dead.
Red Faction was an amazing engine, showcased by an amazing game. It had a decent story, great ideas and great execution. The one thing which held it back was its hit and miss nature - some people really connected with the title, others didn't. Red Faction: Guerrilla will not have this problem.
The first thing you need to know if you played the first game is this - things are different now. Geo-Mod has been upgraded to version 2.0 - you don't modify terrain any more, you destroy buildings. You're not running around in first person any more - you're a third person wrecking ball. And this isn't a game where you can play one more level - RFG has gone open world.
Set on Mars - in a game world about twice as big as Saints Row 2 (a big game in its own right) - Red Faction: Guerrilla takes place well after the events of the first game. When you first arrive on the red planet you immediately see your brother get shot in the face - and suddenly you're a member of the Red Faction.
The story actually develops really well from this rather flimsy base - you push forward from Han Solo style reluctant hero into a space western story seemingly inspired by the awesome Firefly series, a fair share of Star Wars and - of course - Red Faction.
It came as a bit of a surprise because all I really wanted RFG to do was let me wreck stuff. I was expecting a tech demo, an excuse to go from area to area wrecking buildings as creatively as possible.
I mean, the story still basically is that, but it's entertaining as well. Not quite as entertaining as using a sledgehammer to knock out the structural supports of a building and watching it fall down. Nowhere near as entertaining as shooting a rocket at an incoming APC, watching it explode into pieces and seeing a tyre fly at your character - like a scene from a Jerry Bruckheimer film, except Alec Mason gets all messed up.
The story might be worth paying attention to, but the physics engine is the real star of Red Faction: Guerrilla. When I first saw the game in action, our demonstrator said the design team had to hire architects to help with the building design - everything the design guys made just kept collapsing beneath itself. The first thing you think when you hear something like this is almost always "Rightio, nice line, let's move on". In RFG's case though, it's not a line. With a little knowledge of what's holding these buildings up you can take out anything you like.
Nothing showcases this more than the little side mode - Wrecking Crew. RFG is one of those titles where they could have made the single player game and sat back done with it. Wrecking Crew however is a little bonus piece of work - a multiplayer mode where the aim is to do as much destruction as possible within the time limit. It's hotseat multiplayer, so one person picks a weapon, does what they can and then you pass it on. This mode really shows off the engine though, because some of the best ways to maximise your points involve not just taking down buildings as quickly as possible - they involve crashing those buildings into other ones.
The online multiplayer is just more added value - 16 players online at once, with all the classic multiplayer modes, tailored to the game's specific brand of destructability. There's something immensely satisfying about sneaking up on a friend and smacking him over the back of the head with a sledgehammer, or using the Rhino pack to smash your way into a building just as a rocket crashes down behind you.
RFG isn't perfect though. It commits the same crimes as many other
open world games. While the main missions continue to be varied throughout the game, the side missions inevitably repeat too often to be fun. They also don't really have anything to do with the rest of the story. The in-game economy - you get salvage from buildings and cars you wreck, and trade it for upgrades (great idea) - isn't exactly balanced. And while it keeps in theme with the world, the audio in the game seems far too lifeless.
Still, Red Faction: Guerrilla is a flawed masterpiece. It has so much to offer on so many different levels, and while it does fall down in a few places I'd heartily recommend it to anyone. Even after you've finished the main story mode you'll still find yourself starting up a round of Wrecking Crew with some mates and seeing what kind of havoc you can create. The multiplayer will live or die on its community, but if RFG sells as well as it should there should be life in the online side of things for a while to come.