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June 23, 2009
Red Faction: Guerrilla - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
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Vehicles play a large role in Red Faction.
Eight years ago THQ released a First Person Shooter called Red Faction on the PS2 and it went on to much critical and commercial acclaim, no doubt thanks to the Geo-Mod technology which allowed you to blow holes in the ground and walls of buildings thereby creating new pathways and destroying cover for enemy soldiers. A year and a half later a sequel was release which moved the setting to earth, and also sold well despite poorer reviews. Then the franchise disappeared. No more sequels, no spin-offs. Nothing. Seven years on and the developers Volition, and publishers THQ, have just finished off another game, Red Faction: Guerrilla which puts the action back on Mars, and promises plenty...

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The first area on Mars with vegetation, Oasis.
Taking place 50 years after the events of the first game in 2208 Red Faction: Guerrilla the Earth Defense Force (EDF for short) has taken control of all operations on Mars. The colonists have been stripped of all their rights with many being kidnapped by the EDF and forced into slave labor camps. Alec Mason is visiting his brother Dan Mason on Mars, and as a demolitions mining expert is set for a busy career. His brother though has other plans taking Alec on a mission to destroy some EDF buildings. Things go horribly wrong with Alec's brother killed by the EDF, and Alec facing arrest. Fortunately some resistance fighters free him and There is no choice left but to revolt. Alec Mason is willing to take up the cause, and he starts an uprising against the EDF to free the Mars colonists.

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The games hero, Alec Mason.
It's a pretty good story, but in all honestly the presentation of the cut scenes throughout the game is alittle on the weak side. While you care about Alec Mason, you never really feel much pain from him over the loss of his brother. There is also little interaction with other NPC's to make you care further about Alec or the other resistance fighters.

Fortunately this game isn't about the storyline, it's about the action, and on that front this Third Person Shooter is a winner. Alec Mason always carries a sledge hammer around with him which is great for smashing your way into, or out of, buildings or cracking a few enemy skulls. As well as the sledge hammer Alec can carry three other weapons at once including items such as pistols, machine guns, rocket launchers, proximity mines and explosive charges among others. Obviously some of these are geared to taking out heavier objects such as enemy tanks or buildings while others, such as the machine guns, are for taking out the enemy personnel.

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World destruction is stunning to witness.
As well as being taking place on Mars Red Faction: Guerrilla sees the landscape split up into six different zones with multiple missions in each. These mission are quite varied and include missions focused on assisting the resistance movement. These may include demolishing buildings, intercepting EDF personnel, rescuing detained colonists, riding shotgun in vehicles and firing at enemy buildings and soldiers, or assisting in raiding EDF facilities. Beyond this you can also mine ore deposits for salvage, or take out non-mission based targets such as checkpoints, or enemy vehicles.

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The cut-scenes look wonderful.
Of course the big question is how well does the Geo-Mod 2.0 technology work? In short, it's sensational. While the technology no longer allows you to deform the terrain - you can't create tunnels through mountains, or even create bunkers in the ground for extra protection from enemies - any man made structure can be destroyed, and every single time you destroy something it will act differently thanks to the brilliant physics engine. Naturally taking out a building is best accomplished by taking out the main support columns, by taking out the weaker walls first the building will remain standing. Destruction of buildings is by far the most entertaining aspect of this game, and indeed it is featured in a multi-player mode called Wrecking Crew - something we could play for days on end.

As you destroy buildings, vehicles or crates salvage will be littered on the ground which acts as the 'cash' in the game allowing you to purchase new weapons, or upgrade existing ones. There isn't a terrible amount of customisation available, but it's good enough to offer a satisfying progress with enhanced abilities and new toys to play with.

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Watch out for the crumbling building.
There are plenty of other nice little touches in Red Faction: Guerrilla as well. Hitting the Start button allows you to enter an encyclopedia of sorts with details about various weapons, goals, and information seen within the game world. By hitting select a map comes up showing available missions, safe houses, enemies and medium and high importance targets. A waypoint can be set, and then a yellow trail is shown in the game world to get to that target. Finally, the game tracks all sorts of stats to keep you happy and of course there is a decent set of trophies with challenges across all levels of single player, offline multi-player and online multi-player. Much better then some games that are simply for completing the various levels within the game.

So I've honestly had a wonderful time playing this game, but it is admittedly one where the sum is probably better then the parts. There are a few minor niggles here. We've mentioned the weak-ish storyline and cut scenes - we could have certainly done with more depth and quantity in that regard. The game includes plenty of environment traversal, and this becomes somewhat annoying when you fail a mission have to drive all the way back to the location which can take some time. The vehicles can seem a little 'floaty' and can roll all too easily.

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All the buildings are completely destructible.
Multi-player is also a key component of this title and supports up to 16-players in online matches with very little lag evident. Game modes include Anarchy (Deathmatch), Team Anarchy (Team Deathmatch), Capture The Flag, Damage Control (basically Domination, but with bases that can be destroyed, and rebuilt), Siege, Demolition and a Spectator mode as well. Actually these are all superbly implemented game modes with a decent set of maps which offer plenty of variety.

The big omission from the multi-player is that of vehicles. Unlike the single player game it is not possible to drive or use vehicles during online games. That's a bit of a shame, but it does help balance the game and there are plenty of new abilities that make up for it. Speaking of these new abilities we are talking about Backpacks. Littered throughout the maps on dedicated backpack posts these give you a series of extra abilities including increased firepower, stealth mode, a jetpack, tremor which shakes the building causing it to crumble, and firepower which increases the damage inflicted. There are more, but you get the drift, and they certainly add some extra spice into the multi-player mode.

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Some more Red Faction: Guerrilla destruction.
If online isn't your thing then you will be pleased to hear that the developers have included the offline multi-player mode called 'Wrecking Crew'. This mode isn't a Deathmatch as such but sees gamers competing to cause the most amount of destruction given a set amount of time and/or ammo. Each player takes it in turn to see how much damage they can cause in each lap. Unfortunately this is pass the controller - an option to use multiple controllers, and even split-screen would have been a bonus.

As you can imagine the setting of Mars makes this a rather unique looking game. Sure there is a lot of red dirt and rocks around, and much of the game world is quite barren, but I still really enjoy the look of this game. The buildings seem to have a purpose in the world, the destruction is superb, and animation fairly solid. Fortunately the frame rate is also fairly solid with only occasional drops during the busiest of scenes.

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Another objective is complete.
If I have to nitpick then the appearance of screen tearing is annoying. It's not the worst we've seen on the PS3 to date, but could have been improved. Also the game is a little jaggy and again the PS3 version misses out on the anti-aliasing compared to the XBox 360 version and there is some distant pop-up evident as well, but you will only notice if travelling at speed around the world and are looking at the most distant mountain ranges. It must be emphasised that these are minor issues that can be overlooked, and aren't major game-breaking issues.

If there is one area where this game falls down ever so slightly it's the audio. Music composed by Dan Wentz and Timothy Wynn is atmospheric enough and it ramps up and down nicely with the action on-screen. Effects such as explosions, crumbling buildings, and the multitude of gunshots are also quite solid with some good directional support. The disappointment comes from the dialogue which is pretty drab with some average dialogue, and lack of emotion from most of the characters including Alec Mason who is voiced by Troy Baker a voice actor who has provided voiceovers for sixteen video games so far according to IMDB. Don't get me wrong, the audio isn't terrible, it just doesn't match the other aspect of the game.

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The colonists have been turned into slaves...
Red Faction: Guerrilla takes the franchise to a while new level with some of the most entertaining gameplay we've encountered in some time. Sure the graphics and audio aren't the best we've seen on the PS3, and the storyline is a little thin as well, but as a game this gets top marks. The single player campaign is a good length (around 15 hours give or take) but the multi-player could have you playing for that amount of time several times over. This is one for action fans to add to their collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSMars is a little bland as expected, but the destruction is stunning.
SOUNDVoiceovers are a little muted, nice music and good effects though.
GAMEPLAYThis game is all about blowing shit up, and it's good at it too!
VALUEThe length of the single player campaign was impressive, multi-player will add even more longevity.
OVERALLRed Faction: Guerrilla is a fantastic action title that fans of the genre would do well to pick up. Here's hoping there are more sequels in future...

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