Red Faction Guerrilla Art

Preview: Red Faction Guerrilla Xbox 360, PS3

It’s been six years since the last iteration of Red Faction appeared on home consoles. With so many new IPs entering the market since then, and so little in the way of pre-release hype, it’s been fairly easy to overlook Volition’s third entry into the series. Having played through an early release of the single-player demo – soon to grace PSN and Xbox Live – has opened our eyes to an incredibly promising summer hit.

Like the original game, Guerrilla is set on Mars and follows the ‘Red Faction’ as they struggle to overthrow the oppressive EDF, the very group that helped liberate the Martian colony from the Ultor mining corporation of the first game. The similarities pretty much end there, however. Although the setting and involved parties are retained in Guerrilla, the game has moved from being a claustrophobic first person shooter, to an open-ended third person sandbox action affair. It’s quite a drastic change, especially for fans looking to return to the tightly packed corridors of the first game, but this is from the makers of highly acclaimed Saints Row 2, so we’re in incredibly safe hands.


The mission we played enforces the idea that the game’s structure will be similar to recent sandbox epics. While the immediate surrounding area was instantly accessible, moving too far from the objective triggered a countdown to mission failure, suggesting that the full game will be completely free-roaming with missions spread across what appears to be a sizable map of varying sectors. In this case, the EDF has confiscated the mining community’s mech-like walker, and chiseled-jawed revolutionary Alex Mason has been charged with the task of retrieving it from the lock up. Between Mason and the goal is a small base, littered with buildings and vehicles, and crawling with EDF soldiers.

It all sounds rather generic, but from the first swing of Mason’s trusty sledgehammer, it becomes apparent that Volition are on to something potentially brilliant. Everything, and we mean everything, can be destroyed. If you’re thinking of Battlefield: Bad Company with its destructible walls, or Resident Evil 5 with its various shacks and stalls that collapse with a well aimed grenade, you’re on the wrong tracks. Buildings, walls, silos, and bridges can all be brought down piece by piece, in real-time, with game-altering consequences. Planting explosives on important structural foundations can bring a building down instantly and realistically, and as it’s all physics based, so it never happens the same way twice. It’s difficult to describe just how much fun it is to run through a series of buildings simply smashing through the walls, but it never ceases to cause bouts of cramp-inducing grinning. Even more astonishing is the consistent frame rate throughout, with hardly any noticeable issues, despite the amount of on-screen chaos. Granted, there’s a fair bit of screen tear in this early build, but it never becomes enough to detract from action.


It would be easy to leave it at that, a destructible game-world for players to manipulate as they like, but Guerrilla somehow manages to pull off a surprisingly solid combat system as well. Using a similar cover system to GTA 4, any flat surface can be used as cover, providing a projectile weapon is equipped. It’s nothing particularly revolutionary, but combined with remote bombs, not to mention the abundance of explosive barrels lying around, firefights soon escalate into the sort of thing you’d expect from a cut scene, with strategically demolished buildings wiping out squads of enemy soldiers as they crash down upon them. Interestingly, while ammo can be taken from downed bad guys, there’s also a smattering of Red Faction supply dumps about the area. In the full game these will provide extra weapons and ammo, but rely on civilian morale. The more civilian casualties, the less ammo will appear in these crates, while the destruction of EDF buildings and propaganda will increase the chance of reward. If they nail it, it could well bring the balance needed to counteract the constant demolition of the world.

But the main selling point here is of course the destructive nature of Guerrilla, and to emphasise that, the mission ends with a mech-based rampage through the base, followed by an on-rails shoot out through the dusty red Martian hills that puts the car chase from Bad Boys 2 to shame. Watching a car fly through the air after hitting it with a cannon round, seeing it take out the supports of a wind powered generator, which in turn falls on the following cars, is absolutely breath taking. The best part is, it’s all in real time, so there are no triggered events and no scripted actions. Similarly, walking through one side of a building and out of the other in a huge mech, then turning around and seeing the robot-shaped hole, never gets old.


The potential, for Red Faction: Guerrilla is staggering. Our only worry is that due to its sandbox nature the missions could fall into the trap that so many other open world games have before it, and lean towards repetition in order to fill out the seemingly enormous play area. There seems to be enough original ideas present to pull it off, so I have faith. It should also be said that the full game will ship with an abundance of multiplayer modes that will take advantage of the destructible buildings and the like, which will no doubt spawn even more creative ways by which to blow stuff up, although these didn’t feature in the demo we played.

If you can’t wait until June to try it out (and it’s seriously worth trying out), gamers in the UK will have the opportunity to sample the demo early on both PSN and Xbox Live, by heading over to and signing up for a free myTHQ account. Keys to the demo are available now.