THQ Nordic certainly haven’t been holding back lately. In fact, over the last year alone they’ve released quite a number of comebacks; de Blob, The Raven Remastered and now, Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered. This is a remaster of the third in a total of four Red Faction games, and arguably the best in the entire series. That’s not to say that you need to have played any of the game’s predecessors to enjoy this installation, but there are references to the series’ canon regardless. The real question here, however, is whether or not this is worth a recommendation from yours truly? Yes, reluctantly, but yet nevertheless.
Players take on the role of Alec Mason, a man that’s seeking a new life with his brother on the planet Mars. Sooner than you can place your mud-slappers on the ground, your brother is murdered by the EDF (Earth Defense Force), the Red Faction’s only true opposition. Through an opportunity to get some payback on behalf of his dead brother, Alec joins the Red Faction to exact some revenge. Red Faction: Guerrilla’s plot is well structured for the type of game this is; a third-person, open world experience. This foundation was a big shift from its immediate first-person predecessor, but one that went down well with the crowd.
I wouldn’t come into this game expecting to be blown away by the story, but it is indeed competent enough to warrant a pass. It’s the actual gameplay that shines through the most here and for those of you that relish destructible environments, you can pretty much have your fill. The progression system is fairly straightforward. Players will complete assignments in an attempt to loosen the EDF’s hold on any given area, or sector, to be more specific. When this is achieved, you’ll earn more followers to aid you through your overarching mission. Players can practically demolish and level anything that isn’t the planet itself.
The general rule of thumb here is that unless it’s Mars’ crust, you can hammer the absolute shit out of it to some outstanding effects. Doing so will bag you some moral in the process, which again, feeds into your cause’s growth. Speaking specifically about the physics and the visuals, it feels massively empowering to take your hammer and your weaponry (Rocket Launchers, Nano Rifles and more) to the fields of play and bring down just about anything that’s man-made. There’s a few frame-rate issues to contend with when the action gets thick, but for the most part, the game performs particularly well. Enter the rubble and scrap.
Leveling a building is one way to earn scrap, which serves as the game’s currency. This can also be earned through undertaking activities and quests, or via mining. Scraps can then be used to purchase upgrades and such, but the pacing of scrap’s delivery vs the cost of what you need to invest in can often be outweighed. This means that later in the game, you’re going to need to start hording what you collect or endure some grinding to make up for the slack. It’s not hard to overlook, but I would have preferred a better balance when it comes to drops. Scavenging isn’t a hefty process, but it does drain excitement when you hit a wall.
I quite liked the weapon variation within. Especially those that lean more heavily on the game’s sci-fi material rather than those that relay realism; assault rifles and pistols, to name just two. Though, with that being said, the combat can indeed feel quite clunky at times. It doesn’t at all help matters that the AI fails to maintain much strategy, which can be said about both your allies and your foes. They all just feel like cannon fodder at the best of times, either purposely standing in your line of fire or positioning themselves in some easy to access, open spaces. It’s challenging, don’t get me wrong, but victory can feel cheap.
Losing your followers will impact on your overall pool, which will only have harsher consequences if they accidentally die by your hand, or for the most part, splash damage. Still, these issues are more of a product of the time the original game released (almost ten years back) so it’s somewhat forgivable. Furthermore, touching up on the game’s difficulty, enemies will react to your capabilities and progress. Literally, you can go toe-to-toe with a small band of foes in one moment, and then be absolutely swarmed by the opposition in the next. It gives the game a dynamic vibe and although it becomes repetitive, I enjoyed it.
The mission structure mainly consists of destabilizing the EDF. This amounts to destroying their structures and equipment across a sizable campaign. Players are taken to a range of different locations to destroy fuel depots, factories and armories. The side activities feed into the core concept in one way or another, but they do pad the game out quite well. I was particularly fond of the puzzle-esque activities, such as leveling a building with the use of limited or specific resources. It’s a shame that this wasn’t built upon more than it was, because above anything else, I was having an heap of fun when tactics were thrown in.
I don’t want to bash on this game too hard because there’s certainly an appealing backbone to whole experience. It’s just a shame that some of the design choices, the game’s inconsistencies and the game’s original issues have carried over. Remove that, or at least grin and bear it, and you’re in for an action-packed treat that rarely declines. Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is certainly worth its asking price, but fans of the original and fans of the genre will appreciate this the most. The constant push to destroy, kill and scavenge may become repetitive before long, but that’s not to say that its not fun, on the contrary, in fact.
There’s also some addition content to soak up too, such as the online multiplayer that enables up to sixteen players to go head to head in all out carnage. Wrecking Ball gets a thumbs up too, simply allowing players to dive into the destructive action without the weight of the campaign looming in sight. When all is said and done, if you can accept the game’s few performance issues and the problems from its root release, you’re going to have a blast, literally. Sure, it would have been nice to see Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered more ironed out, but at the end of the day, you’ll get a lot in return for your investment.
It’s hard to truly overlook the game’s performance issues, or indeed, issues that arrive as a product of the original’s problems, however, it’s still a well rounded experience nevertheless. The story is decent, the pace is well struck and the environmental destruction remains second to none. Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is a patch away from greatness, but in its current state, it fails to meet that end.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.