Published by: THQ
Developed by: Volition
Genre: Third Person Shooter / Open World
Release: Jun 2009
I was lucky enough to be able to grab a keycode for the new Red Faction Guerilla demo.
*edit - the demo is now up for download by the general public - go try it!*
I haven't played much of the first few games - I think I rented red faction 1 ages ago. I was impressed enough by it's Geomod(1.0) technology which allowed you to burrow holes in levels with rockets, create trenches, etc. However, it was limited back in the day and only so much damage could be done to a level before everything became un-destroyable.
Now we have a handful of games which expand on how destructible scenery comes into play, such as Battlefield: Bad Company, and Mercenaries 2.
Mercenaries 2 I felt was particularly underwhelming in this respect, it's graphics lacked polish (terrible water effects) and, whilst you could indeed destroy every building and structure in the game, there was again a lack of polish, and the feeling that quantity was prioritized over quality. For example, a building took a set amount of damage before it began to crumble and raise dust, and shortly after a standard pile of rubble was left. Of course, within minutes these buildings were magically reconstructed so as not to break gameplay.
Battlefield Bad Company tried a more subtle approach, with a lot of fully destructible scenery, and buildings, which could be skeletonized, rather than completely demolished. It worked fairly well, though it could get annoying that you could destroy some things and not others.
So, given that destructible scenery is one of Red Faction: Guerilla's major selling points, this is the first aspect I wished to investigate.
What I can say for certain is that if you like breaking stuff, and seeing things destroyed in an overly gratuitous fashion, then you will not be disappointed. The buildings on Mars, from military installations to flimsy shacks, will shatter, splinter, explode, collapse, break, twist and fall. Pipes, bricks, bits of metal and concrete all break apart as you'd expect and secondary explosions caused by good old fashioned exploding barrels can really rack up the carnage.
The smashing-up-of-things is the star of the show, no doubt, but a concern I had is one exemplefied by Battlefield: Bad Company's single player. This is the fact that in BF:BC, the enemy AI had trouble distinguishing between broken scenery, and untouched, solid walls. Red Faction: Guerilla's AI seems to handle it well enough, and at no point in the demo (although short) did I feel like the AI was being especially stupid.
In fact, the AI worked better than I thought. In the open world of RF:G, there are friendly miners going about their business, not bothering anyone, and driving random cars and trucks about (which you can 'borrow').
Then there are restricted areas, which, if you enter, the local guards will pop a cap in your ass, provided they see you. You can back up against walls, and crouch walk to avoid detection, and there's also a handy minimap to show nearby guard positions.
Of course, being fairly open world means that you'll probably get spotted sooner or later and then the guards come - with re-enforcements depending on how much $#@! you are fecking up - cause too much mayhem and truckload after truckload of enemies will bail in, overwhelming you.
Dealing with the enemies is fair enough too, there's usually accuracy issues in 3rd person shooters but enough has been done to eliminate frustration. For example, 3rd person melee attacking can tend to be a bit fiddly in most 3rd person games, but an auto lock on/lunge makes this a bit more satisfying. Though it could be cheap in multiplayer if the lunge distance is as it is in single player, I'd be annoyed if I got whacked by someone ten feet away, because the lunge auto-targets the nearest person. Still, works well in single player.
The guns, in the demo at least, are intuitive to use and feel meaty in sound and effect, and the remote detonation mines - whilst a little inaccurate when thrown, are a hell of a lot of fun, and creative use of them can result in some crazy situations.
So the actual mission in the demo is to first 'liberate' an Aliens-style mech loader from a garage which is in a restricted area. I had a few attempts at this. First, running in with guns and bombs was fairly effective, but as you raise more attention, you need to be on the ball or else you'll get swarmed by guards.
The second attempt I used was stealth - carefully avoiding enemies where I could, and taking the less travelled path, this too proved to be a valid - if slightly more boring option.
The third attempt I enjoyed the most. Hijacking a random truck which looked like a martian bin lorry, I proceeded to stick 4 remote mines all over the truck, after driving it to a secluded location. Once I had the explosives stuck to it, I began driving it straight at the enemy compound, jumped out whilst at full speed, and watched as it bore a truck-shaped hole through a major building, with girders and pipes crashing down in it's wake, and the enemies who were all about the building, naturally came to assess the damage and shoot at me through the gaping truck-shaped hole.
Detonating the mines on the truck soon stopped their shenannigans and pretty much levelled half of the building, with the other half collapsing shortly after, due to a lack of wall support.
So it's good to see different directions and tactics that you can use for the missions, it does scream replayability if you are free to approach all missions in the game like this.
So we get to the garage containing the hulking power loader mech thing, and jump in. At this point, stealth and subtlety are smashed into a crumpled heap, along with anything or anyone else who has the misfortune to get in your path.
The mech is a lot of fun to play with; the triggers on your controller swing the arms like windmills, mashing up guards, vehicles, and anything else. The bumper buttons do a left or right arm sweep, useful for smacking pesky trucks away.
With the mech you gain a good bit of damage resistance, although turrets and guards in great number can wear you down eventually.
You have to take your mech to a waiting truck, which parks outside the compound. I found the best way to get to it was to ignore any other enemies behind you, and walk in a straight line towards it - cutting through any buildings or vehicles like a hot knife through butter, destroying anything in your path - it's a lot of fun.
Of course, it's not that easy, you have to stay clear of explosive things when ploughing through scenery, and if any turrets or heavy weapons are hassling you - you need to back track a bit to smack them about.
Once at the waiting truck, your mech gets loaded on, and you hop out to man the vehicle's turret for some on rails shooter action. A brief chase ensues, with you pummelling any attacker who dares get too close to your cargo. This bit was perhaps the least fun part of the demo, but it was relieved by the crazy carnage that you could bring down on anything behind you.
All in all, I'm cautiously optimistic about this game. It is definitely fun and the physics and Geomod2.0 powered destruction are very well realised and work with the gameplay wonderfully.
A multiplayer demo would have been interesting, to see how they balance the powerful weapons to prevent one jerk flattening anything and everything on the map. It will be interesting to see if this is possible in the final build.
Let's keep an eye on this one.
- Bratman Du.
Last edited by Bratman Du; May 11th, 2009 at 10:53.
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