Just like its predecessors, Red Faction Guerrilla contains highly destructible environments but ultimately leads down a path of repetition and unbalanced gameplay.
When the first Red Faction was released back in the early PS2 days, gamers were blown away by the game’s ability to blast holes anywhere in the environment. In fact, it was cool just to continually destroy the same spot in the environment simply to see how the game would handle it. As opposed to destroying rock and earth like the first game in the series, Guerrilla actually focuses on taking down man made structures like buildings and bridges. At all times, your character will carry a sledgehammer that possesses quite a bit of destructive force. A few wacks of this bang stick can bring down buildings, bust holes in walls, and even crack skulls with ease.
The physics and sense of gravity is rather impressive in Guerrilla, as taking down perfect structural points in buildings are key. Knock down support beams at the corners of each building and watch it crumble, or place remote mines at thin connecting beams to topple buildings from the top down, for example. Thanks to an impressive game engine, the game reacts exactly how it should. In fact, it might even work a little too well; if you destroy a building while you are inside, expect to have a few bricks fall on your head.
Unlike the other games in the series, Guerrilla is actually a third person open world sandbox title as opposed to a straight forward FPS. Taking a more GTA approach, the player is able to complete missions in any order at any time. While this initially makes the game more inviting, it ultimately will suffer from repetition. For the first few hours, Red Faction Guerrilla is a blast to play. Nuking the crap out of buildings and regaining control of Mars from the local oppressing forces is pretty dang cool, but after you take out your fifth stronghold, save your eighth hostage, and retrieve your third vehicle, it is hard look away from the “destroy anything” gameplay element that each mission is pretty much solely based around it.
When you are not blowing something up, you are probably going to be participating in some form of gunplay. The play control, hit detection, and aiming functionality are definitely better than most third person shooters but could have used a better UI. Switching weapons in the middle of the firefight is cumbersome and never as responsive as you will want it to be. When the bullets start flying, it is usually best to just stick with one weapon until the heat dies down. Also, the cover system is almost entirely broken. Instead of clinging to walls and using pop-out shots, you are better off just running and gunning most of the time. And like Halo or Gears of War, health will be recovered if you stay out of the strike zone for a moment.
Unfortunately, the game’s firefights are probably its biggest downfall. It is not that they are bad, they are just very unbalanced. In many ways, the fun and entertaining destructible game engine acts as one big tease. When you start destroying buildings, you will not want to stop. Driving a truck straight through a series of buildings is totally fun. However, as soon as you take your sledgehammer to an enemy building, the strike force will do everything to stop you. Within seconds, you can be drastically outnumbered with no place to run, resulting in seeing the Game Over screen more often than you would like. Additionally, each time you die results in a loss of friendly moral, and if the moral drops too far, you can expect your gun fights to become even more difficult.
Because the enemy is always watching, you can never just entertainingly lay down the whoopstick on a set of buildings. In order to save yourself from being shot down, using run-and-hide tactics is a must (I guess that is why the title of this game is “Guerrilla”). But this becomes a big pain the ass because who wants to destroy half a building, run for your life, hide until enemy forces calm down, return to the building, finish destroying it, then run for your life again? This drastically breaks up the flow and balancing of the game. Gamers want results and entertainment immediately and at all times. Who wants to destroy part of a large building, then run and hide to live another day only to double back and finish the job at a later time? I want to have fun now, damn it!
Missions are not the only things that will become repetitive in time, but the environment will as well. Mars is the Red Planet, and that is totally understandable, but observing the constant reds and grays will start to make the eyes grow weary after a while. Perhaps if there were some interior structures to explore, instead of always being outside, would have alleviated part of this problem.
There are few different online multiplayer modes, but this proves to be rather unbalanced as well. Noobs should fear the veteran players as spawn points and weapon farming are the main multiplayer tactics, causing nothing but frustration and disappointment. If you do manage to stay alive for more than a few seconds, playing around with the game’s different jet packs is a great game enhancer.
Red Faction Guerrilla is an entertaining game, without question. There are just a few elements that prevent this game from becoming great. Knocking over entire buildings with a single sledgehammer and remote mines is highly entertaining, especially due to the stable and well programmed game engine, but the enemy AI can easily overwhelm the player right in the prime of taking down a structure. Have you ever just wanted to walk through a dungeon in Final Fantasy without dealing with random enemy encounters because you were so caught up in the story and environment? It is basically the same feeling that Guerrilla generates. This third person shooter is a lot better than most other third person shooters on the system, but the apparent flaws unfortunately hold this one back from being the superb game that it should have been.