Red Faction: Guerrilla Preview
When the original Red Faction dropped in May of 2001 for the PS2, it contributed to one hell of a year for Sony's newest console. The atmospheric FPS was one of our favorite PS2 titles - and still is - although we weren't impressed with the sequel, which showed up over a year later. But getting back to the original, that game included two vaunted features that helped to make Red Faction one of the most entertaining titles of the time- Geo-Mod technology and vehicles. Technically, RF wasn't the first FPS to have vehicles (that would be System Shock, we believe), but we were still treated to jeeps, submarines and even airships. The Geo-Mod allowed players to blast away pieces of the environment, creating new paths and completely altering the background. It wasn't quite as dramatic as THQ and Volition advertised, but it was still pretty amazing back in 2001. Now, a brand new RF is on the way for this new generation, and this time around, it's adopting a whole new third-person action format.
Because of the entirely new genre, Red Faction: Guerilla isn't your standard FPS...'cuz it ain't a FPS. But there's also another massive change we need to talk about: while the two previous titles played out in a very linear fashion, Volition is utilizing a freedom-based, open-world style similar to their Saints Row 2 game scheduled for August 26. We could probably assume this means the storyline won't be as cohesive - it's the typical sacrifice for "open-world" types - but THQ reminds us that we're once again playing as a member of the Red Faction resistance. Those who played the first two installments of the series will remember this role well, so at least that's familiar territory, right? Of course, when the odds are against you, a man requires every last advantage he can find, and in Guerilla, that will include plenty of weapons and, yes, the vehicles have returned. An early build has been circulating through a variety of game journalists, and the available demo has certainly turned a few heads. It's no FPS, but damnit, don't we have enough of those? Won't Resistance 2 be enough for all you shooter addicts? How's about trying something new?
First up, we've been hearing about the default melee weapon, which is a mining hammer of some kind (you're a miner, remember). Over the years, action aficionados have always wanted to see the melee weapons become more powerful and effective, and we'll get just that with his hammer. Not only can you use it to attack foes - bodies will fly! - but you can also use it to tear out chunks of the environment at your leisure, which is guaranteed to be a major attraction. Explosives will make a return, too, so you can always place satchel charges if you really want to make a big boom. In addition to the charges and hammer, you'll come across a variety of handguns, rifles and not surprisingly, the devastating rocket launcher. Consider this: a group of enemies is beating the snot out of you, and you send a rocket into a wall directly behind them. Thanks to the destructible environment, the wall explodes outward in a shower of rock and dust, flying into the backs of the offending enemies. This is the kind of invigorating premise that flies through our excited little minds when we contemplate battle in Guerilla.
Now, let's move on to that open-ended map format. Whereas before you were pushed along a linear adventuring line, you will now have the freedom to wander about and choose your own direction. Much like in the Grand Theft Auto games, you can select missions as they become available on the map, and the living, breathing world will continue to roll on around you. You are on Mars, but humans have worked hard to terraform much of the planet, giving you access to the atmosphere without the use of a spacesuit. Mission icons will be placed on the map, and you will usually have a choice in regards to which ones you select. Citizens not involved with the conflict at hand will be all over the place, and if you're not careful, they may get wrapped up in any violence you wish to cause. On the other hand, some of the more motivated pedestrians may actually choose to stand by your side and fend off the Federation (EDF)! We're wondering if there might be a way to turn them to your side if something goes down in the streets, and how long they will remain allies. Is there a strategy side to this game that would include recruiting fellow Martians? That could be very cool...
Speaking of cool, let's finish up with the vehicles. From a few of the screenshots you see attached to this preview, you might think you're looking at something resembling MechWarrior. Yep, those really are giant robots, and you can use them at certain points throughout your quest. Best of all, there isn't just one kind of huge, walking mech; there are APCs, attack-based units and several other different styles, each specifically designed for a certain purpose. There is also the standard assortment of regular vehicles, like trucks, jeeps and - dare we hope - tanks...? With all these hot new vehicles, this leads us to a big question regarding the gameplay structure: GTA fans know how they can secure hideouts, and at those hideouts, there are garages where you can store various vehicles. Will we have something similar in this game? Will we be able to find hideouts around the world, and if so, when we obtain one of those crazy robots, could we actually save them in a garage? How sweet would that be? Whenever a game adopts an open-ended format, we usually have a lot of questions, but the current details are very promising.
Red Faction: Guerilla is scheduled to arrive some time next year for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, and in the meantime, we'll keep you updated with any new info that sheds more light on the gameplay. For now, let's just say we're very psyched about this one.
4/7/2008 Ben Dutka