A Subtle Turnaround...
Those familiar with the usual layout of GV reviews may be wondering why they saw the criticisms, and such harsh criticism at that, on page 2. For most games, the initial reaction is one of fun and engagement as one begins out while the fun trails off fast as one discovers the flaws in the game. Our review design normally reflects that experience. In the case of Red Faction: Guerrilla, though, it yields a very different experience, at least in my case. The initial game was met with stark disappointment and puzzlement. The game felt devoid of all life, devoid of most purpose, and, honestly, devoid of content. My initial reaction is that it was a laughable game, possibly even downright bad. Rarely does a game ever strike me in such a way. One of my goals in every review is to find what IS good about a game and what type of gamer would enjoy it. In the case of Red Faction: Guerrilla, I was finding very little to like at first to the point that I wasn't sure if I could play it long enough to write a proper review.
A few events occurred in-game, though, that started warming me up to its world. After a few generic missions and somewhat dull story missions, there's a notable story mission that sparks a bit of innovation. Following the marauders around to recover some stolen crates, you stumble into a ruined complex revealed to be the old Ultor mining complex from the original Red Faction. Exploring the old terrain and a new interior landscape finally gives the feel of a different environment here. Additional this was the first fire fight in the game that actually had some tactics and variety. If the whole game had been like this, it would all be great.
The next story mission was also a winner: It involved stealing a Walker and firing from the back of the transport as the EDF races to counter you. These two missions unlocked some other fun side missions with similar themes. A "Heavy Metal" mission where you must distract and destroy some EDF while riding in a Walker, and a few missions where you ride the sidecar of Jenkins (who has definitely been inhaling the fumes too long) and try to blow up as much EDF property in the time limit as possible. That's good fun right there!
For the in-between missions, well, yes, the generic missions are still a bore and frustrating at times. While most of it feels more like "filler" than anything else, I learned to appreciate a lot of it for what it is, not lament what it isn't. I expected a much more robust battle and mission system, and finding it absent indeed spoils a good deal of the anticipated fun. On the other hand, roaming around the planet in vehicles and bowling over propaganda signs, or confiscating an EDF turret vehicle and storming the next base can indeed be fun, as can inciting riots when the morale meter is high and watching the building you've hit a few times with the rocket launch keep crumbling beyond where you left it. Though this would be admittedly more fun if more troops didn't endlessly show up to spoil the fun, or you could ever get somewhere close enough to a building to lay detonation packs as the game encourages you to do.
While the original Red Faction was a first person shooter, it can safely be said that Red Faction: Guerrilla is a third person racing game. Half your gameplay time is spent in vehicles moving here or there. And when you figure out the damage you can do with some of the larger vehicles, many missions become easier if you just use them as a battering ram. This in itself can be quite fun to watch the magic of blowing through a series of concrete barriers. Hey, if stealth and subtlety aren't provided options, why not just try ramming a dump truck through the base? It may take a few repeated tries, but eventually it can work!
What the game isn't, is a game of tactics, planning, and careful infiltration to accomplish your objectives as you follow a variety integral and involving missions to a conclusion. What the game *IS* however, is a big sandbox where doing specific things is somewhat irrelevant and doing whatever you want should work out fine, though it'll take forever to complete the game that way. Worrying about missions ruins what fun there is to be had in the game. Just think of it as a big world to brashly plow down whatever lies in your way, and you'll get along with the game much better, and can even find it to be a good time killer, if nothing else.
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