Red Faction: Guerrilla

Red Faction: Guerrilla has ruined me. I am the fallen angel, given a glimpse of paradise and a handshake with the divine before being rudely plonked back on earth and forced to get a job in telemarketing. I am the gold medallist who, whilst still standing atop the Olympic podium pretending to know the words to his own national anthem, finds out that the results of the drug tests are in and broccoli has been deemed a controlled substance. Volition have built their game on an engine that they say is five years ahead of the curve. This is a mighty impressive claim. What is even more impressive is that having played the game for a just couple of hours, I believe them.

In order to get my grubby mitts on Guerrilla I found myself on a coach to London, aiming for an auspicious private gentleman’s club (yes, that’s what I thought too, and no, there weren’t any) located in Portland Square. Having rendezvoused with Fran, Ready Up’s very own Outrun obsessive and real-life Space Channel 5 character, we donned our hard-hats, grabbed our sledgehammers and prepared to enter the Martian atmosphere.

James & Fran

Guerrilla is the belated third instalment in the popular Red Faction franchise that first appeared on the PS2 back in 2001. The original game was a first person shooter with the usual trappings: oppressed man must take out an evil corporation through repeated and aggressive use of the business end of ‘Mister Shooty’. There was a twist however, namely that it was not only your enemies who you could reduce to their component parts, but also sections of the environment. Whilst this did not extend to every element of the game-space, there were significant portions of the experience that encouraged you to modify your surroundings to your advantage using your own two virtual hands.

This technical leap was made possible thanks to the development of the Geo-Mod physics engine. If, as a gamer, you consider entering a room using the door a little passé, then Geo-Mod gave you the option of throwing away your key-card, blowing a bloody-great hole in the wall like a one-man wrecking crew and sauntering into said room at your leisure. Whilst undeniably cool, the engine had its limitations; not everything in the world was deformable, and players would come across obstacles that could not be unmade no matter how much firepower you bombarded them with. Still, the level of interactivity was such that the accomplishments of the Geo-Mod engine have not been bested since.

Enter Geo-Mod 2.0. Volition have spent four years developing their newest engine to allow eager players to do one thing and one thing alone: destroy everything. I should probably reiterate that point, because it really is integral to understanding what it is that sets Guerrilla apart from both its predecessors and its peers: you can destroy EVERYTHING. Do you see that building over there? No, you don’t, because I’ve just destroyed it. Shall we use that bridge to cross this treacherous ravine? No, because I’ve just shattered it into a thousand pieces with explosive charges. Want to make your getaway in the armoured APC that’s just careered round the side of the hill? Well you can’t, because I’ve just torn the wheels off one by one and piled them on top of your awestruck, slack-jawed head.

I was lucky enough to grab some face time with Sean Kennedy, the Associate Producer of Guerrilla, in the hope that he could explain exactly what Volition have accomplished in a manner which my simple, mathematically-challenged brain could process.

“Technically what you’re looking at is the first game to have real destruction. A lot of people talk about destruction in games but this is the first one to feature true, physics based destruction. We’ve seen what we call corpse model swapping – for example, in Battlefield 2 you might throw a grenade at a building to blow out a section of wall. There’ll be an explosion effect, behind which they’ll pop out that piece of wall and stick in a broken one. This means you can take all the walls apart piece by piece but you can never actually take down the building. If you look closely you can see the outline effect, the cookie cutter hole drawn into the panel. It’s a good effect, and one that works well for what they wanted to do with the game. What we wanted to make was a game featuring a real time stressing system and true, realistic destruction with gameplay built around it. In Guerrilla you have to master the destruction and learn to use it strategically if you want to beat the game.”

Fran with Shaun

My appetite suitably whetted, I figured it was time to grab a joypad and get down to it. After the obligatory cutscene intro I found myself in control of Alec Mason who, having just witnessed his brother’s death at the hands of the Earth Defence Force, is preparing to get his revenge on. The EDF were actually the ‘good-guy’ group from the first game, but it seems that 45 years spent controlling the Martian mining colonies has turned them from huggable liberators of the people into Stalin-esque fascist oppressors. Therefore, it is your duty as part of the Guerrilla resistance to stick it to the man by locating buildings of strategic EDF importance and, utilizing a variety of weapons and modded mining tools, flatten them like proverbial pancakes.

I used the HUD map to find the nearest EDF structure, and found myself standing at the foot of a large tower. A quick root through my inventory presented me with two possible destruction-centric options: explosive charges and a huge mining sledgehammer. Being a simple man with simple tastes, I pulled out my hammer and moved in. A few swings later and I had smashed a gaping wound in the brick base of the tower, exposing an internal network of metal support beams. The tower remained standing; Geo-Mod 2.0 had deemed my attacks pitiful and unworthy of toppling the structure. Undeterred, I took a few steps back, chucked a couple of explosive charges onto the central support beams and pressed the boom button.


What happened next was simultaneously chaotic and balletic. The explosion took out a good two-thirds of the base and several of the central girders. There was a pause. Then the tower began to lean towards me; I was still standing gormlessly in front of the hole I had made and, in true tree-felling style, the tower was collapsing on its weakest point. I sidestepped quick-smart, and was rewarded with a spectacular view of the tower falling slowly through the air before smashing into hundreds of pieces on the side of a rocky outcrop.

Licking my dry lips in anticipation and arousal I turned to the next tower, situated next to some kind of storage facility. Bearing in mind what I had witnessed, I began chipping away at the side of the tower which faced onto the other building. Core supports revealed and charges placed, I retreated to a safe viewing distance and detonated. This time there was no pause. The entire bottom of the tower blew out in a cloud of dust and debris, and the tower plummeted out of the sky and through the roof of the storage facility. The roof caved under the impact, along with two of the walls, and after a couple of seconds of creaking the storage building crumbled like a Flake in a cement mixer.

Having composed myself enough to speak in coherent sentences I went looking for some more answers. Guerrilla sees the franchise shift from the first person perspective of the original two titles to third person, a choice which has become rather popular among games of late. So, why has Red Faction jumped on the over-the-shoulder bandwagon?

“Early on in the project it was a first person game.” explained Shaun. “The problems cropped up when we found ourselves inside buildings knocking out walls. In FPP you couldn’t see when the ceiling above you was starting to stress and crack. So you would spend all this time adjusting the camera and getting killed by debris that you didn’t know was there. As an experiment we pulled the camera out just to see what it would look like and the difference was night and day. We never looked back after that.”


Guerrilla also embraces an open world philosophy in keeping with Volition’s own Saints Row franchise. “We went to open world because of the destruction system. Everything is built on the concept of freedom: the missions can be approached in different ways and the physics let you interact with anything you want. If we were going to give you the freedom to alter the game world in a way that has never been seen before, why would we want to confine you to corridors?”

The single player campaign will involve liberating the six game areas from EDF control, destroying strongholds and cronies whilst simultaneously raising the moral of the Guerrillas. The less control EDF have over a sector, the more likely your fellow guerrillas are to stand and fight against the enemies stationed there. Conversely, when the EDF control level is maxed out the civilians are far more likely to drop to their knees and beg for mercy. It’s neat system that ties well into the community aspect of guerrilla warfare – after all, you’re fighting for the people, not just for yourself.

The multiplayer test brought a couple of things to light. Firstly, multiplayer employs a backpack upgrade system that grants the player a specific perk dependent on the type of pack collected. As well as the inevitable inclusion of a jetpack, examples range from a stealth pack that renders the wearer invisible through to a ‘Rhino’ pack that allows the wearer to charge headfirst through walls. There are also a variety of weapons and match modes available, some of which are based around the destruction engine itself and are intended to result in hours of tireless demolition.

James plays multiplayer

The second thing I noticed was the frantic nature of the multiplayer experience. You quickly realise that there are no safe spots on the maps. Hide behind cover and someone’s going to shoot it out. Hide inside a building and someone’s going to bring it down on your bonce. This is excellent news for those who hate the cynical sniper tactics employed by certain online gamers, because the moment another player clocks which balcony they’re perched on they will find the floor falling out from beneath their cowardly feet. Satisfying.

I for one am drooling at the promise of Red Faction: Guerrilla. The Geo-Mod 2.0 engine does appear to be a bona fide breakthrough in stress and destruction physics, and I can assure you all that it really does look as good as it sounds. Keep your eyes on Ready Up for further updates, and consider hoarding some pennies for early July. I think this is one title that will definitely make its mark on the gaming landscape.







7 responses to “Red Faction: Guerrilla”

  1. Snozzeltoff avatar

    I like to make things go boom!
    I’d like to try a demo before buying but if like you say, everything is destructible then i think i’m sold.

    Also, good chair beating Fran.

  2. Tony avatar

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. Sounds awesome.

    Oh, and by the way:

    “Licking my dry lips in anticipation and arousal”

    Isn’t that a line from a Mills and Boon novel?

  3. Laura avatar

    This is the first game I’ve really really wanted this year.
    I even want it enough to pull stroppy face, fold my arms and call July a “Big Stoopid” for being so far away 🙂

  4. Ben avatar

    July is good though, my birthday sits in it so a possible birthday present *HINT*

    Ostrich Hammer!!!

  5. James avatar

    I was waiting for someone to shout ostrich! Volition themselves covered that particular bonus, so for anyone still unsure as to whether to give Guerrilla a look or not, behold the feathery wonder:

    As for the chair beating, Fran was just testing if the developers were also fully destructible. She’s extremely thorough.

  6. Alex avatar

    I absolutely LOVED red faction. Still is one of my favorite shooters of all time.
    I’ma looking forward to this one! 😀

  7. Jake avatar

    Me want! Me want! Loved the previous games, and still (I do believe) have them somewhere in the house…

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