Red Faction: Guerrilla Hands-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Red Faction: Guerrilla box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Volition Inc. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: THQ 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jun. 2, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-16 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Change Is in the Air
by Jonathan Marx

January 9, 2009 - Destruction and video games seem to go together like milk and cookies. It doesn't take much for gamers to get excited about the prospect of waging guerilla war and a distant planet, taking out their aggression brick by brick, and having their actions truly affect the game world. In Volition's Red Faction: Guerilla (RFG), players get to do just that.

Red Faction: Guerrilla screenshot

RFG follows the exploits of Alec Mason, an Earthling looking to improve his life by leaving his shadowy past behind him. With this as his motivation, Mason goes to live with his brother Dan on Mars. While on the red planet, he plans on settling down as a common miner. Little does he know, his brother is the honcho of a group of local freedom fighters known as the Red Faction. This clandestine army is waging a war against the EDF (Earth Defense Force). Fans of the series will recognize the EDF as the heroes from the first installment in the series. According to Lord Acton, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, after ascending to power, the EDF has become tyrannous. Shortly after arriving on Mars, players will take up the mantle of guerilla fighter, trying to inflict a massive toll in blood and treasure on the EDF, while securing the hearts and minds of the oppressed locals. This sets the stage for the destructive, sand box-style, third-person shooter gameplay of Red Faction: Guerilla.

As the developer of both Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Volition is no stranger to open worlds. In that light, players will have complete freedom to make their way through a terra-formed Mars in any way they wish, causing massive destruction to enemy installations while achieving mission objectives. Missions include taking out key enemy buildings, decreasing their influence, and establishing your own zone of control. In our hands-on time with RFG, it became clear that players will participate in a mix of roaming, mini-confrontations, clandestine operations, a propaganda war, and wider, pitched battles. As the Red Faction begins to establish itself in an area due to your persistent meddling, the local populace will begin to flock to your cause and help you oust the remnants of the former ruling bloc.


As cool as it is to freely roam through the large world, it's even a whole lot better reaping destruction across the landscape. Virtually every edifice can be taken apart via explosives, heavy weapons, small arms fire, and even a common sledgehammer. That's because RFG employs a hyper-realistic physics engine and a persistent destruction mechanic that makes strategic demolition one of the most important aspects of the game.

In other words, buildings and structures are constantly changing. Damage done by players will have lasting consequences on gameplay and level design. For example, while tooling around in the game, I took out a bridge, killing a bunch of guys standing on and below the span. Needless to say, using the environment to rain death upon my adversaries was great fun. However, to my surprise, a subsequent mission was somewhat frustrated by the inability to cross to the other side. This means there are real consequences to your actions, and it makes for a more engaging and interactive experience.

Red Faction: Guerrilla screenshot

As such, becoming familiar with your surroundings and planning beforehand will be crucial. Setting remote charges in frequently used buildings and creating choke points for ambushes is all part and parcel of the game. If successful, players will be able to use a lot of strategy to trap their enemies in their designs. If their plans fail, they may find themselves hemmed in by their own stupidity and lack of forethought. Of course, cracking skulls with your back against a wall is also quite fun. The ability to be as brutal or as stealthy as you like should give the game a rather wide appeal.

Players will have access to both mundane and fantastic weaponry. In addition to common small and heavy arms, players will be delighted to know that weapons such as the electric arc welder, nano rifle, and singularity bomb will cause major problems to the EDF rank and file as well as enemy installations. On the other hand, players can rest easy knowing that the simplicity and uncomplicated pleasure of swinging a brutal sledgehammer into the face of a combatant or the side of a burning building is not lost amongst the list of futuristic armaments.

Red Faction: Guerrilla screenshot

What's more, there seems to be a good deal of variety available in terms gameplay. For instance, players will be able to ride around in vehicles spewing out fiery death with mounted boom-sticks. I had a lot of fun just cruising through the world taking out EDF propaganda signs and then dealing with the repercussions. The play-as-you-may aspect of RFG will definitely prove to be an important facet.

In total, there will be 22 "meta-level" missions and a ton of side missions spread across four distinct environments of Mars. Because Mars has been terra-formed, players will enjoy taking on the EDF in interesting areas that are nicely fleshed out and marked by their differences. Buildings and complexes abound, so regardless of where you are, expect to wreak havoc. Explosions look nice, buildings topple realistically, and the world is pretty. However, I would like to see a few more details in both the environments and death sequences; we like realistic textures and blood splatters. Although, keeping the gore to a minimum won't substantially detract from the experience and may keep the game to a Teen rating.

Rounding out the game's package are a host of multiplayer features. Volition has promised fully realized online multiplayer features that could revolutionize online shooters. Because of the game's persistent destruction mechanic, players that like to camp out behind cover or snipe from distance will find their tactics thwarted by an ever-changing battlefield. That means players will have to shoot-and-scoot rather than perch-and-plink if they expect to dominate. Unfortunately, no hard details have been released concerning the available multiplayer modes, and we have not been given the opportunity to play in a developer-hosted session. This leaves us to believe that bugs are still prevalent, but we are expecting such glitches to be ironed out by the time the game is released in summer 2009.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

Game Features:

  • Open World Guerrilla Warfare: You decide who, when, where, and how to battle. Utilize guerrilla tactics, improvised weaponry, and modified vehicles to lead insurgent attacks on EDF targets. Launch attacks based on your own gameplay style, take on missions in any order you choose, or engage in destructive activities to weaken the EDF's grip on Mars.
  • Strategic Destruction: Use destruction to your tactical advantage, setting ambushes or chain reaction explosions to attack enemy strongholds and permanently modify the game environment. Leverage fully-dynamic physics-based destruction to improvise on the fly: blow holes in a wall or floor to set an ambush or escape, take out a staircase to stop your pursuers, or drive vehicles through blown out walls.
  • Evolving & Emergent Gameplay: Carve your path through an ever changing landscape as you improvise your combat tactics - mixing gameplay styles, vehicles, weapons and explosives to defeat the EDF.
  • Epic Sci-Fi Setting: Explore the huge, unforgiving Martian landscape, from the desolate mining outpost of Parker to the gleaming EDF capital city of Eos; then tear through the fully destructible open-world environments swarming with EDF forces, Red Faction resistance fighters, and the downtrodden settlers caught in the cross-fire.
  • Multiplayer Combat: There is no place to hide when you put your guerrilla warfare skills to the test in a variety of highly destructive multiplayer combat modes.

  • Screenshots / Images
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