While much of its color palette is about as utilitarian as the sledgehammer lead character Alec Mason swings around, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered ($29.99) still delivers the goods (and how!) when it comes to its core gameplay. Mars may be the big hot spot some look to as our future home (ha!), but in this game, it’s one of the worst places off earth. The game itself is quite solid overall thanks to recent patching that fixed a few flaws, but getting the hang of weapon switching in the heat of battle is still some tricky business.
Developer KAIKO took Volition’s 2009 PS3/Xbox 360/PC game and added some nice modern visual flourishes such as revamped textures, lighting, and shadow effects along with a (mostly) smoother 60fps frame rate. The game also packs in all the DLC, including a side story set years before the main game featuring a badass heroine who uses some cool alien weaponry, so this package is going to be a treat for those who want additional solo and online play modes to pad out an already lengthy game experience.
(Thanks, THQ Nordic!)
You don’t need to have played the original Red Faction or its sequel in order to hop right in and have a blast. In fact, the change from first-person shooter to third person open world game combined with the faster pace Volition was perfecting in its Saint’s Row series makes this remaster a blast to play. Sure, it’s rocking that sort of Grand Theft Auto meets Total Recall crossover stuff pretty hard, but that’s one reason it’s quite a ton of fun. Granted, the game will be absolutely unforgiving to those going in and expecting those EDF troops to drop like flies under Mason’s hammer, assorted guns and explosive charges. The plot is nothing to write home about, but it does hit enough notes to keep you playing though the campaign.
Oh, by the way, although the EDF here also stands for Earth Defense Force, the former allies from the first game now turned enemies who have ZERO relation to Sandlot’s even more destruction packed Earth Defense Force series or any other game with those initials not produced by THQ/Nordic. I only mention this because I heard some guys in a game store arguing this non-point for some reason with one even claiming with a straight face the old Super Nintendo game Earth Defense Force had an indirect connection. Uh, nope. It doesn’t at all. Like more important history around a well-read bookworm, you don’t want to mess with game history within earshot of some of us who’ve been around the block with this hobby. This has been a public service announcement, by the way.
The main campaign is long enough to keep you very busy dealing and dodging death, but you’ll want to remember to save early and often because that EDF AI is set on puree even on the easiest mode. While getting sneaky with explosive charges and ranged weapons works wonderfully, many assaults rely on a mix of tactics. Planning out an escape route with a vehicle close by helps out, although you’ll want to avoid populated areas when making good your escape. While some locals will come to your aid, letting too many die (or killing them on purpose or accidentally) lowers your reputation. There’s no set way to clear the large maps, although the game offers up some mission-based bits that gently guide you to them as the game progresses.
Timed destruction sections are cool in that you’re given the tools to take out a structure and have to quickly figure out how to meet the goals set. These side missions help you get used to the weapon swapping and yes, you need to NOT be too close to exploding or falling structures because too much debris collapsing on Mason’s head can do him in. He’s pretty resilient otherwise, but not if you have something like 20 EDF troops coming at him hard on foot and in assorted vehicles, guns blazing. The funniest thing about getting chased around is if you can make it back to your home base on one of the maps, the alert dies down almost immediately, although you don’t want to rush right back into the fray because there’s nothing worse that being taken out by a few stragglers.
As for those extra modes, while I’m not much into multiplayer games (despite dabbling in a few MMOs of late), the matchmaking works well although a lot of games are locked to viewers by some players, which is a shame, but people do deserve some privacy. I actually prefer the more fun mode where you choose a character and weapons and attempt to destroy as many structures on a map as possible. It’s a lot more mindless than the main game for sure. But if you need to blow stuff up to blow off some steam, it works just fine.
While some who remember the original game might balk at this remaster’s price point, it’s a solid enough bargain for those new to the experience for the campaign and MP modes. While it’s not a certainty we’ll see a new game in the series, I’d consider this a test of the waters for one down the road. I think it’s worth a buy overall especially if your appetite for destruction is mostly confined to the digital space. Hey, it’s a long, hot summer and you need to keep out of the sun once in a while, right?
Score: B (80%)
Review code provided by the publisher