Why I don’t like Red Faction Guerrilla

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Red faction Guerrilla is a simple, fun shooter with an excellent destruction engine. I’m glad I got that out of the way, let the vitriol commence.

If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s when a game promises me the moon, then gives me a bucket of rocks. I should be used to this now, every developer has made bold sweeping claims about their intentions, then in one way or another been forced into a compromise or a cut. But it’s when the game rides that feature on into the sunset, then expects everyone to accept what they’ve made, then it’s just a boot to the crotch of the unsuspecting gamer.

Red Faction GUERRILLA is exactly what it says it isn’t, actually, a more accurate title would probably be Red Faction Grand Theft Auto Mars, and that’s fair, the concept flies. HOWEVER. It flies a little too well, to the extent that it almost begins falling apart in the process. I purchased Red Faction Bomberman 3D under the suggestion of Rock Paper Shotgun podcast. Here they recommended playing it on hard, for that real hard-as-nails guerrilla experience – living on the edge, deciding who lives and who dies, so I kindly accepted their challenge. At the time, my mind was already making some pretty influential suggestions as toward this game’s potential – stealthily undermining the man, taking out key locations like a ghost and bringing the hammer down on the law. This happened with the reliability of the Hindenburg.

The problem with Red Faction Vigilante 8 is that it suffers in each of its key components; sort of providing an unsatisfying version of events to whoever was looking for a more in-depth experience. As a hollow action game, it gives a bit of a momentary testosterone/ adrenaline explosion as you plough through buildings with bulldozers for arms, but there are so many little frustrations that douse your momentary enthrallment and pull you straight out of your experience by the ankles.

Stealth is something that should be taken carefully. I feel that stealth should be an intrinsic part of a game, and not just an arbitrary sequence pinned up here and there for the sake of something to talk about; Red Faction Rampage Total Destruction squandered an excellent chance. Any potential for stealth was immediately flattened the second the EDF became the league of extraordinary telepaths – having an enemy launch into an immediate uproar, the instant you so much as plant a bomb is TEDIOUS. There was one part in which I was instructed to destroy some wind towers, within this maze of buildings, so I took this as a chance to test something out. Well concealed behind a metal box, I had a plain sight of a couple of EDF goons, so I planted a bomb out of their sights. Immediately they sprung to life like the wind up psychopaths they are and converged upon me, it was around then I closed the game. This game had a ridiculous amount of potential regarding stealth, and it threw it all away for no apparent reason, maybe this is indicative of things to come.

This was intensely frustrating, not so much because it made the game worse, perse, but because I did have these truly intense moments that were quickly torn away from me. Upon playing more, I’ve found that this stealth system is a bit hit and miss, but as soon as they spot your space-ass, they’ll mercilessly and senselessly send the legions after you until you’re a smear in the dirt sort of unbalancing any story you were at least trying to rationalise in your mind.

Upon closing the game, I took some time to brood and reflect over the last 4 or so hours I’d burned away, and I came away utterly confounded. The soul, was apparently soaring around the aether because the more I looked at this game, the more it seems like a wholly empty commercial experience. Alec Mason, miner, turned THOUGHTLESS MURDER in the blink of an eye. I hate it when games pitch characters into abnormal situations, like murder, then expect the character to blunder on stoic-ly without a single thought for the men he’d cleaved down in his wake. But the lack of soul wasn’t even exclusive to Alec himself; the EDF are portrayed as this band of mindless, idealistically broken soldiers who want to ceaselessly kill everyone for no apparent reason. You know, I’d be fine and dandy if the plot revealed that they’d gotten some kind of crazy Mars disease, and the miners do add to this by referring to them as the “drones”, but that doesn’t explain anything. I think if there’s anything that really churned my cider, it was probably this. The gameplay is what it is, a vehicle for the story that is sometimes incidentally fantastic to the extent that a story becomes less important, but they even missed this mark. The overbearing nature of the morality of the situation just kept boring into my mind, and ultimately I think this is what drove me to quitting, much like how I felt with Borderlands.

I don’t intend to cast Red Faction Guerrilla into the murky depths of horror; it certainly isn’t bad, in fact it makes a nice little mindless destructive romp when you’re in the mood. But it’s when they underpin the concept with such confusion and frustrating features that they transform a simple game into a hulking mass of slightly faulty parts. It simply can’t justify its difficulty or its cause.

A couple of days after writing this (and I do like to think that I’ve taken the time to let it mature) I have decided to flex my game-designery muscles and take a blow torch to the core of any game I’ve reduced to ash. After all, I’d appear to be a bit of a one trick pony if all I could do was complain, so I’d like to see what would happen when the game was rebuilt and restructured so that it could overcome its flaws. So sit tight, suspend your disbelief, ignore my blinding self faith and enjoy what is to come.

Miles Newton – The Machination, criticism department

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2 Responses to “Why I don’t like Red Faction Guerrilla”

  1. Sam C. Says:

    I think I agree with your assessment. The psychic soldiers got old pretty fast, but I think what caused me to stop was when I reached the Badlands sector, which is just a huge expanse of nothing. The best part of the game is smashing things, so why would there be an area without anything to break? It just became a hassle to get to the fun, since they decided to place the base out in the middle of nowhere.
    The story was pretty weak – what I wanted to know is what was going to happen after I destroyed all the infrastructure, and why am I destroying it? I remember “defending” a barracks with some of the miners that lived there, and by the end, the homes of the people that had been fighting with me were just a big pile of rubble. It was still fun to blow things up, but there did not seem to be a point to it.

    I’m looking forward to your redesign.

    • The Machination Says:

      Hey Sam, thanks for your reply. I really think the problem with it is that they treated the wrong way. Equating Red Faction Guerrilla to a bowl of ice cream would be like saying, the more you add doesn’t make it taste better, you’ve just got a bigger bowl of icecream. Or whatever, my analogies suck. I really think that they just lost focus of their intentions and got caught up in this big incongruous stream of ideas, instead of maintaining a strong central focus. Also, on the subject of the resdesign, it might take a while since year 12 has already buried me alive, but who knows, it’ll appear one of these day.

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