February 7/9/10, 2012 (Original NA/AU/EU Releases); September 8, 2020 (Remaster, WW Release)
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC/Steam (Original); PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC/Steam/Epic Games Store (Re-Reckoning)
EA Games (Original, 2012); THQ Nordic (Remaster, 2020)
38 Studios + Big Huge Games (Original, 2012); Kaiko Games (Remaster, 2020)
I want to first preface this review by thanking Bryden Keks and THQ Nordic with providing me with a code for the game to review!
I’d also like to make it clear that this is less of a full on review of Red Faction: Guerrilla, and more of a review of the quality of the remastering by Kaiko Games. Not to say I won’t touch on the quality of the game itself – it just isn’t the focus here.
The story of Red Faction: Guerrilla takes place in the year 2125 – 45 years after Red Faction II. You don’t really need to have played the older PS2 shooters to understand what happens here – but it can help a bit as you’ll at least know who your antagonists are a bit better.
It starts with Alec Mason, a mining engineer and the character you play as for the entire game, transferring to Mars’ Tharsis region to reunite with his brother Dan and start up a new life.
Things very quickly go south, though – as while on work duty collecting salvage from destroying abandoned buildings, Dan reveals that the EDF ( Earth Defense Force, and formerly allies of the Red Faction in the original game ) (( No, not that EDF. )) have become increasingly cruel and oppressive to the people of Mars. Due to Earth’s rapidly declining world economy and lack of resources, the EDF has essentially forced the people of Mars into unfree labor in order to match Earth’s high demand for resources.
Upon finishing work, Alec and Dan go to leave, but an EDF gunship drops in and opens fire on them – killing Dan. Alec’s off to a rough first day on Mars.
A bit later, back at his residence, the EDF show up on the hunt for Red Faction members – which actually means anyone the suspect to be working with the Red Faction. And since Dan was Red Faction, that puts Alec directly in their sights. Thankfully, before anything too much worse can happen to him, Alec is saved by the other Red Faction members Samanya and the Red Faction commander, Hugo Davies.
This is where the main story picks up and you actually take full control. After the death of his brother at the hands of the EDF, and his own near-death experience at their hands, Alec begrudgingly agrees to help the Red Faction drive them off of Mars.
Most of the story is told through brief radio conversations or face to face conversations with other characters, with a few CG cutscenes sprinkled throughout to further flesh things out.
The overall story is written fairly well – characters are at least unique enough that you will care about them enough to want to see them succeed. The subject matter is handled decntly as well – though due to the nature of the game, it can get a little lost amidst the ensuing chaos that you can wreak upon the EDF.
It can be a little disjointed when the game wants you to feel a bit of tension but just 5 minutes before you were leveling an entire bridge with what equates to a mini nuclear bomb launcher. There’s just a bit of mood or tonal dissonance that occurs that can end up taking away from what the story might want to say.
Still, it’s a decent story overall, and it’s entertaining to play through – weird dissonance and all.
This is where the bulk of this version of the game’s improvements lie. Framerate, textures, audio – everything is much improved over the original release. Explosions look much nicer, buildings collapse and the framerate doesn’t tank quite as bad – even subtitles have been a bit refined! The CG cutscenes seem to look a bit nicer overall as well.
The textures especially look much better – they’re much more detailed now, and much sharper overall. Lighting has been altered as well – it’s much stronger, with shadows being much darker and other effects, like god rays being added.
I’ve also noticed some effects missing, however. For instance, in the original game, explosions would also cause tons of motion and screen blur. That seems to be either missing or toned down by a large amount. I don’t mind this change as I kind of hated that effect to begin with – but I can only guess it was altered to help with the framerate problems the game had.
Even Alec’s coat looks nicer – with a richer, more leather-like appearance to its shaders as opposed to the flat look the original had. They’ve also toned down the red-ish hue that the original game had, and Samanya’s hair no longer looks purple!
All in all, the game does still hold up pretty well. Especially the destruction capabilities of the GEOMOD engine. There’s nothing quite like taking a sledgehammer to the base of a building, knocking out the supports and then watching the whole thing collapse under its own weight. However – while the framerate is much improved and much more stable in this version of the game, it can still tank pretty hard when a massive structure is collapsing or things are otherwise getting extremely hectic. Quite a few times there where moments where the framerate would hit sub-20 at best. Thankfully these moments are far more infrequent than they were before as that was one of my biggest gripes with the original.
There was also a small bug where vehicle audio wouldn’t play at all initially, but that has since been fixed it seems.
This is the side of the game that is entirely unchanged. It’s the exact same game as it was 9 years ago and a definite case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The main core of the game involves reducing EDF’s control of Mars down to zero. You do this by completing missions/side missions and destroying key structures in each section of the map – of which there are 5. Once you’ve done enough damage to the EDF’s control, you’ll gain access to a liberation mission for that sector which will reduce EDF’s presence in that sector once complete.
This has not changed in the remaster, nor have the missions themselves, the side mission types or the times to beat in them.
Though there is one place that I wish they would have tweaked a bit – when you’re fighting EDF, you can often get guerrillas to join in your battle, which can push the odds of survival for Mason up a decent amount. However – should a guerrilla die, you’ll lose morale for that sector. And if their death is caused by your hand – then the morale drop is sharper. This works fine on paper, but in action, the guerrillas can often get in your way – either standing in front of your shots/hammer or by getting behind you and shooting you accidentally. They can block doorways when you’re trying to escape and otherwise just be a nuisance.
I also wish they would have evened out the enemy response. There are some ludicrous spikes in difficulty here – even on Casual – where the game acts a bit like Just Cause, outrageously overblowing enemy response to what you’re actually doing. Even on Casual, you’ll often find yourself being pelted with bullets, grenades, missiles, and shells from 20+ soldiers, dropships, and tanks that suddenly appeared when all you were doing was knocking down a billboard or dilapidated building.
At its core, though, Red Faction: Guerrilla is fairly standard 3rd-person, open-world action fare. Go through missions using a variety of weapons to take out your enemies or destroy targets, from a sledgehammer and basic assault rifle and remote charges – to thermobaric rocket launchers and rifles that shoot nanomachines to consume any and all material they make contact with.
You can also take on side missions that consist of delivering vehicles to a safehouse within a set amount of time, destroying a target structure with a limited set of weapons in a set amount of time, riding shotgun in a rocket equipped buggy causing mass havoc to EDF bases, defending Red Faction members from EDF assaults, causing distractions while fellow Red Faction members fight the EDF as well as going on raids with other Red Faction members to destroy EDF structures.
There are over 100 of these side missions, and while they do add a bit of content to the overall single-player game, they can end up feeling a bit repetitive after a while as they don’t change that much from mission to mission.
Completing these side missions can reward you with weapons and upgrades, though – so they’re at least worth it for that.
Unfortunately, I can’t really speak much on the multiplayer. I never tried it out in the original game as, by the time I got it, it was already long dead. Aside from that, there is another multiplayer mode known as Wrecking Crew. This is a 4 player local mode in which you compete to get the highest score while destroying a given map with a predetermined set of weapons. The more destruction you cause, the higher your score.
There are a few variations on this mode, but they all follow the same core principle – cause as much damage as you can within a limited amount of time to win the round.
This is where the game kind of falters a bit more.
There are collectibles and side missions that you can do – and they do offer decent rewards in the form of either salvage/currency or actual upgrades, but as I mentioned earlier, they can get pretty repetitive, and kind of feel like they’re only there to pad out the game’s experience. IE: There are over 200 EDF Supply crates and at least 300 ore crystals that you can mine. These are extremely high numbers, and hunting for them isn’t the most fun you could be having with the game.
Thankfully, the game world isn’t too big, which helps to make the collectibles at least a little more manageable.
On the trophy/achievement side of things – the list is almost identical to the original list – though some trophies/achievements have been toned down. Instead of winning 250 online matches, you only need to play 250 matches. Instead of needing to earn 100,000 XP online, you only need 50,000. Things like that.
Some trophies/achievements, however, have remained the same. You’ll still need to complete all 104 Guerrilla Actions (Side missions), destroy all 250 EDF supply Crates and mine all 300 ore crystals.
Needless to say – the platinum/100% is going to take a while. Especially since the DLC is included in the game and is now part of the main list.
Overall – Red Faction: Guerrilla doesn’t really bring too much that’s new to the open-world genre, but it’s a fun time, and the things that are unique to it – such as the destruction – certainly help to set it apart from the likes of Grand Theft Auto and even Volition’s other series, Saints Row.
It was easily one of my favorite PS3 games when I finally played it – and the improvements made here have certainly made it a better experience that holds up well after 9 years. $30 isn’t a bad price, either – though it would be nice if people who owned the original got a discount on it (I think Steam players get it as a free update – but I’m not 100% certain on that.). But if you’ve never played it before and were interested? Definitely snatch it up – it’s certainly worth it.
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The music is actually pretty decent - if a bit repetitive.
The buttons do things when you press them.
I'm...really grasping for things to say that are good here, guys.