THQ Nordic has revived Volition’s 2009 smash hit, Red Faction Guerrilla with the aptly named Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Edition for Xbox One, PC, PS4 and Switch owners. The game features all the content of the original but with a boost in visual quality especially when compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 originals. This time, players can get to experience the carnage in 4K at 30 frames per second with all the bells and whistles enabled (on Xbox One X – with lower resolutions for the less-powered consoles such as the original Xbox One and PS4). There is also a chopped down high performance mode which loses some of the graphical effects and resolution and provides a steady 60 frames per second.
To fill in some blanks for those unfamiliar, you play as Alec Mason, a miner-cum-construction-demolitions expert character looking to make his mark on Mars. Having just landed, things aren’t what they seem and after a brief meeting with his brother, encounters the oppressive EDF (Earth Defense Force) regime who are running the show like their own little dictatorship. Mason’s brother is killed and before you know it, he becomes embroiled in the Mars resistance group – The Red Faction. Cue lots of shooting, hammer smashing, detonations and crumbling buildings.
Red Faction Guerrilla is a third person free-roaming action game, although it has to be said, the game does show its age quite a bit compared to more modern offerings. For starters, Mars is divided into districts and rather than be able to just dive in, Mason is tasked with liberating each district using a predetermined path. Any deviation and players are shot down pretty quickly unable to actually uncover the map fully. So, starting in the first area, players are introduced to the system of raising morale amongst the workers and bringing the EDF influence down enough so you can collectively drive them out of the area. Mason can undertake specific story based missions, randomly destroy EDF property or partake in several side-activities. It works well enough but as mentioned is a rather old school method of unlocking the playground to mess around in. Each mission has its own quirks such as rescuing captives, destroying targets or getting into skirmishes with the EDF. What is neat is being able to have AI back you up if the area’s morale rating is high enough and use vehicles to get around – of which some have cannons equipped or are just plain destructive.
Ultimately, Red Faction Guerrilla is a fun game to play but what really set the series apart from its peers at the time of the original game release in 2001 was its Geo-Mod tech as part of a first person shooter. This allowed for complete terrain destruction whereby you could blast through walls or dig yourself into the ground – something we can see in popular games like Minecraft. In Guerrilla this aspect has been toned down considerably and is restricted to structures only for the most part. That said, bringing down a building is rather gratifying.
There are issues with this game though especially with the AI and vehicles which tend to get in the way quite a bit just when you need a quick escape. The handling of some vehicles is also a bit floaty but perhaps this can be attributed to the atmosphere on Mars. There are some bugs though in this version which need to be addressed, but perhaps the biggest gripe is the checkpoint system. This game is a lot tougher on default “Normal” than your modern game and if during a mission you fail, then there is often no checkpoint to rely on which means starting over. This can be a bitter pill to swallow given the length of some missions or if a glitch causes the mission to fail. You’re also likely to be gunned down pretty fast should you wade into a firefight without due care- even if you have upgraded Mason. Still, for those who like a challenge will perhaps appreciate the lack of hand-holding here.
Another gripe is the game design of how the world is accessed. The opening areas are quite dull looking despite having orange or grayish hues, devoid of much other than the EDF outposts a few signs and structures. There are plentiful brown and muddy textures, although these do look great against the Mars skyline. However, the best locations with a bit more colour are only unlocked in the latter part of the story which as we know, most gamers don’t finish games so it seems like an odd decision to save all of the best bits until last where potentially only a third of players might get to see it. From the off, the game world just looks and feels lifeless and dull which isn’t showing off the game’s best side to hook players.
In terms of the two modes on offer here, the high graphics setting might look the best but on Xbox One X at least doesn’t fully hold up to its 4K 30 fps promise. In some instances the frame rate noticeably dips beneath this mark, even when simply moving around the barren landscapes. The game has had a full graphics overhaul which includes better texture detail, improved shadows and lighting , plus some post-processing effects making for a far more attractive game than the original offering. That said, the Performance mode is a beast and runs really well at 60 frames per second at 1800p, giving the game a much more pleasant feel when tearing down buildings and shooting up the enemy. Original Xbox or PS4 owners can play with 900p at 60 fps or 1080p at 60 fps respectively. It’s certainly the more favourable of the two modes.
To conclude, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Edition is a fun albeit dated experience for those who never tried the game back in 2009. PC gamers who get a free update might not be as impressed with the overall package. Anyone else after some nostalgia will find familiar feelings flooding back, but by today’s open world standards this is a rather restrictive experience once you remove or tire of the main mechanic of toppling buildings. However, the gameplay does have its fair share of dull moments and frustration which can be a turn-off. For those who endure past the opening areas will find a much more diverse and enjoyable romp as you fight back to reclaim Mars from its EDF oppressors, but that’s only if you have the patience to see it through.