Red Faction: Guerrilla Beta Impressions

April 16, 2009 § Leave a comment

We were lucky enough recently to get some hands on time with Volition’s Red Faction: Guerrilla, the new open-world third-person shooter complete with building-leveling hammers.

First and most importantly, Red Faction feels satisfying to play, something which many similar games recently have struggled with (Mercenaries 2 comes particularly to mind). Guns have a nice amount of weight to them, and the cover mechanic feels very smooth and natural. In a pinch the game could be described with its vehicle handling and generous lock-on as like playing Warhawk with a cover mechanic, a statement which should certainly be taken as a compliment.

But enough about controls, what of Guerrilla’s unique selling point, its destructive capabilities? Red Faction has always done this well, and a new hardware generation has managed to really take the lid off things. Rather than the building health bars of Mercenaries 2 or the underwhelming wall destruction of Bad Company, buildings can actually be taken apart piece by piece in the game. Take out a wall and the roof above it crumbles, continue and the whole building gets ripped apart. It all feels incredibly satisfying, and something of a minigame can be made of trying to destroy a building with the minimum of well placed explosives.

Obviously the system isn’t perfect. Take out your hammer and go to town on a wall and it’s obvious when the ‘damaged wall’ model is substituted for the real one, but it’s so far ahead of everything else that it’s hard to care. Weirdly, unlike the first two entries where the martian rock was the easiest thing in the world to destroy, in this game it’s the only thing that won’t wield to your hammer’s blows, at least not in the area we played. Never again will you be able to tunnel underground, but then again, why would you want to?

As with any open world game making an individual mission fun is only a small part of the battle. Making the martian surface an interesting place to explore is going to be a difficult task to accomplish, as well as ensuring the boasted 150 missions don’t all fall in to the same repetitive moulds. Getting around might also be a cause for concern; in the level we played, as soon as an enemy spotted you they opened fire, and if this is any indication of the entire open-world, getting around might prove irksome.

Overall though Volition have proved with this demo that they certainly have the competency to make one level enjoyable, as well as proving their engine has the muscle to back up their smack talk. All that remains to be seen is if this consistency can be maintained.

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