Friday, June 12, 2009

Damn you Red Faction: Guerrilla

You're too addicting, and it's fugging with my blogging. :( Seriously, Volition's latest game is great. Maybe it'll be a sleeper hit, or perhaps a full-on hit, but one thing's for sure, it's the most fun I've had with a title this year.

As you've probably heard, just about everything in this game is destructible, naturally since the Red Faction series has always been about destructible environments within their GeoMod engines; in 2001, most were going ga-ga over the original McShooter, Halo (when they weren't bored of their minds wandering through the copy pasta rooms of the Library level), and among those somewhat lost in the shuffle was the at least unique pleasure of Red Faction and its gambit: wrecking the crap out of the environment. It was a feature unfortunately limited to gimmickry by the game's bad singleplayer design, but at least an innovative feat and all sorts of fun in the multiplayer. Think mining tunnels to the enemy's base using rockets. As opposed to spawning with the best weapon in the game, a pistol, in Halo.

Years since, however, have brought us "GeoMod2" and Red Faction: Guerrilla, a departure for the series from the FPS shooter into the sandbox action genre. The laborious physics of GeoMod have been upgraded to provide for some really elaborate demolition effects, such as unstable buildings eventually collapsing under their own weight, or explosions flinging debris that impact other structures and objects. All this spread across a huge open-world map that actually remembers just what the hell you blew up no matter where in the game you are, which means satisfying moments like driving past the ruined penthouse I drove an APC through missions ago, causing the roof to fall on top of the heads of a mob of enemy forces. Add to that the variety of weapons you can use, sticky explosives, blockbuster warheads, a bomb that makes literal black holes with apropos effects, and my fav, the molecular-disintegrating "Nano Rifle" (best moment: disintegrating the floor around a poor sniper and watching him panick aloud "What the fuck is THAT?!" before suddenly tumbling several floors down along with the furniture), and the result is loads of creativity and possibility involved in beating the missions, let alone enjoying them, not seen since the OG sandbox champ Grand Theft Auto 3 (and light years ahead from the cynical, disappointing Grand Theft Auto 4).

One other thing that's appreciable about Guerrilla is the content, and what Volition's priorities were with it. On the face of it, the limited vehicle variety and lack of character customization makes this game seem about as spartan as its Martian miner setting. But that's not really what the game is about, and instead, Volition concentrated on improving the core gameplay with a massive weapons set and a variety of structures to boom, which is preferable to a slew of tack-ons, or worse, DLC. In fact, a few within the large weapon set, the Red Faction staple "Rail Driver" for example, could've easily been DLC'd. Instead, the Rail Driver is a sort-of secret weapon you can swipe from rare elite foes at the endgame and add it to your inventory. In this day and age of Horse Armors, it's kind of a relief to get the good stuff the old fashioned way.

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