- Developer: Kaiko, Volition
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Release Date: 02-Jul-2019
- Price: £26.99 / $29.99
- Rating: PEGI 16 / M 17+ Blood, Strong Language, Violence
- Review Code provided by THQ Nordic
Welcome to Mars miner
Red Faction Guerrilla was the third Red Faction game released (we will ignore the never released Wii game Red Faction B.E.A.S.T.) and it’s the first entry that featured an open world and third person perspective. Originally released in 2009 on Xbox 360 & Playstation 3 Guerrilla takes place back on Mars due to Earth’s resources becoming scare. The Earth Defense Force (EDF & no relation at all to bug fighting force the the various EDF games) has essentially enslaved the workers on Mars to do their bidding instead of being the protectors of the people. The main character, Alec Mason, arrives on Mars and meets up with his brother Dan. Dan explains to Alec the situation with the EDF and the oppression that they’re facing on Mars, Alec is hesitant to destroy an old abandoned building, but eventually agrees to after Dan explains the value of “salvage” on Mars. After the building is destroyed the EDF shows up and kills Alec for being affiliated with the Red Faction, the Red Faction is a group of resistance fighters that are fighting against the EDF. Alec is placed under arrest even though he is a licensed miner, before his execution he is saved by members of the Red Faction and is forced to help the group out otherwise the EDF will carry out their sentence.
The original Red Faction Guerrilla game was my favorite in the series, Red Faction I and II were FPS shooters, and the newer Armageddon was a linear 3rd person shooter. The Re-Mars-tered edition was released in 2018 for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and features upgraded graphics and 4k support. The Switch version was announced in April 2019 for the July 2019 release.
How can you help the Red Faction?
The main thing that makes Red Faction Guerrilla unique is the ability to destroy literally everything except the actual ground. Any bridges, buildings, and vehicles can all be destroyed. Typically, there’s two reasons to destroy buildings, first you can collect salvage which is used to purchase upgrades and new equipment and secondly destroying EDF buildings can reduce the EDF control and raise Red Faction morale in a certain sector. On the map the high value EDF targets will be shown and you can freely pick any of them to go and destroy. The smaller targets will be less defended and easier while the higher value targets will usually have a strong EDF defense force that you will have to defeat in order to destroy the building.
In addition to the destruction targets there’s many other tasks and missions that will populate the map. Guerrilla actions can include hostage rescues and aiding the Red Faction in direct combat versus the EDF. Guerrilla actions are the quickest way to both reduce EDF control and to increase Red Faction morale. Main quests are indicated by the yellow fist icon and those will progress the story along, these quests are usually unlocked when EDF control drops below certain thresholds in the area. For some additional fun there are special destruction missions where you will have specific equipment and a specific target to destroy in a set amount of time for a nice salvage reward.
Helping out the Red Faction has its benefits as well, the most noticeable is unlocking the story missions, but also as morale is higher there will be more faction supporters around and if they pass by you when you’re engaged in another event they will join forces with you, one negative to this is if any of them get killed morale drops by a point.
Tools of Destruction
Alec has a wide variety of tools that he can use not only to destroy the environment but to also fight against the EDF. You can equip four weapons at any time and there are ammo boxes scattered around Mars where you can change your loadout or refill what you are carrying. In the beginning you’ll start with a sledgehammer which is unlike any sledgehammer known to man, the only other weapon in existence that can equal it’s might is Mjolnir. Not only can the sledgehammer knock down reinforced stone walls with a single swing, it can fell an EDF soldier in full body armor with a swing. That said, the sledgehammer being awesome is what makes the destruction so much fun. A few well-placed swings at the support columns on a building can bring the whole structure tumbling down.
Alec has a wide variety of weapons to support the hammer as well, sticky bombs, proximity mines, rocket launchers and others. The flexibility of these weapons to be used for destruction or vs. the EDF allows you to put together some interesting sets of equipment. For example, the sticky bombs are great for exploding specific parts of a building to demolish it quickly, but they can also be tossed into groups of enemies or under a vehicle to blow it up. In addition to the destruction tools you can also equip the standard shooter guns like a pistol or assault rifle.
Alec also has the option to drive any vehicle he can find. In Parker, the first area, the Red Faction camp only has a pickup truck vehicle but quickly in the second area, Dust, you can drive a dune buggy with a machine gun. The vehicles overall are fairly mundane, the larger vehicles allow guerrilla allies to ride with you and man the gun turrets if applicable.
The first thing that stands out when playing Red Faction Guerrilla on the Switch is how absolutely smooth and stable the game runs. When you start destroying buildings there is a lot of rubble, and explosion effects and the game doesn’t suffer at all during these scenes. Even during intense gunfights with the EDF there were no noticeable frame rate drops.
With as fun as the destruction in Red Faction the gun-play and combat does not feel intuitive. The default sensitivity was very high with joystick aiming and there is no way to aim down the sights of your weapons. However, the Switch version of this game has the option to turn on gyro aiming, this totally changed the game for me, after tweaking the sensitivity it became a dream to use the gyro aiming for combat, it felt much more intuitive.
My biggest criticism is how the game suffers from the same issues that a lot of open world games suffer from, the icons on the map feel like a checklist every time you get to a new area the map is covered in green icons to complete guerrilla actions and blue icons to destroy buildings. Just in the second section there’s one area to destroy 12 EDF windmills each windmill is only worth a few points of EDF control so it becomes a little tedious to have the same destruction tasks over and over. In addition, to all the map markers to complete there are also the usual collection type events. There are 250 ore outcrops to smash for bonus salvage and there are 250 EDF supply crates. While some might enjoy the hunting to get all of them, to me it’s nothing more than your standard open world collection mechanic since neither provides much of a benefit. According to howlongtobeat.com Red Faction Guerrilla is about 13 hours to play-through but 45 hours to 100% complete. This just shows how much fluff content is added to make the game seem longer.
We have all seen photos of Mars, it’s a rocky and barren place and Red Faction Guerrilla captures this quite well, most of the open world is barren and rocky. The game isn’t as open as other examples, most of the travel is confined to the specific roadways as traversing over the rocky outcrops is quite difficult or impossible for most vehicles. In addition to the environment being dull the characters themselves are pretty flat. Alec just watched his brother get murdered and is forced into helping the Red Faction, yet he doesn’t show any anger or emotion and just goes along with the Red Faction’s plans. The other characters that give you missions, and such are as equally flat.
Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered does offer a multiplayer mode as well, at the time of writing this review I had not been able to join any multiplayer games. It looked like the servers were set up as it would try to connect to the games but there were never any available players, so likely just a lack of a population playing during the review period.
Game modes for multiplayer seem pretty standard capture the flag, etc. You can pick your starting jet-pack boost, some provide extra speed or extra weapon damage so it’s quite similar to picking a specific class in other online shooters.
Based on the gameplay itself I don’t foresee the multiplayer being the main reason to buy the game but it could be fun as a diversion if you need a break from the main story.
- Great destructible buildings, the physics make it feel like controlled destruction actually works to bring down large structures
- Variety of explosives and weapons to destroy buildings and fight against the EDF
- Included gyro controls make for a much better experience
- Shallow characters and world environments
- Gunplay and combat is lacking, especially when using the joystick controls
- Weapons are generic and uninspired
- Very long load times – upwards of 20-30 seconds when you respawn after death
Overall Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered will fill a void in the Switch library. There’s not a lot of shooters and even fewer open world games. Overall the game is a lot of fun and for the price tag I feel like it’s a good value for the cost. The building destruction is very pleasing and feels good when you bring down a tower with a well-placed bomb. Without the gyro aiming the game would have gotten a 3.5/5 but having that option makes the game so much better.