There are certain things that some games excel at. GTA has some of the best characters in any video game we've ever played, Saints Row has its tongue firmly in cheek for its duration, Gears of War made cover systems cool, and well, Red Faction Guerrilla lets you blow stuff up. It might seem rather odd to focus this preview on something so simple and barbaric, but turning massive buildings into piles of rubble in THQ's and Volition's open-world Mars adventure is what's going to catch your attention when it's released in June. This is destruction like you've never seen before.
That's really quite a hyperbolic statement to make in the opening paragraph of a preview for a game that we've still only scratched the surface of, but until you actually get to plant a group of timed grenades around a structure and detonate them in unison to topple a tower, or simply smash through a wall with a hammer and witness the brick fall away in the place it was struck, it's hard to appreciate just what Volition has achieved here. We were a little concerned that previous Red Faction trademark GeoMod ground deformation was absent here (so you can't tunnel any more), but we've been so busy experimenting with the game's superb physics model that it rarely became more than slight irk.
Although we've seen and played the game numerous times over the last year or so, this is the first time we've been able to take the time to see what Guerrilla is really about. As we've mentioned before and you're probably now bored of reading about, this third game in the Red Faction series casts you as Alec Mason, a man who joins rebel group Red Faction after his brother is murdered by the Earth Defense Force (EDF). This shady organisation has been kidnapping civilians and setting them to work in camps, so Mason sets out to liberate the people and recruit new Red Faction soldiers along the way.
As with Volition's previous title Saints Row, Guerrilla is set in a large, open to explore expanse of land, although Mars isn't quite as densely populated. This play area is split into sectors, with each sector containing missions that must be completed in order to liberate that area. The rebels don't have the money or resources that the EDF has, so they make do with scrap called salvage. The cause has skilled engineers that can use this scrap metal to create new weapons and other technology, so effectively it becomes a kind of currency for Mason. As well as being able to gather up this salvage from destroyed buildings, completed missions reward you with a little extra to spend in your safe house.
Joining these key missions are plenty of secondary tasks and challenges that will reward you in various ways. By destroying EDF buildings you can get more control in a sector, especially if you manage to take down the key buildings that are marked on the map (which includes a GPS-like system that works in a similar way to what can be found in Saints Row, with added on-road arrows). Doing tasks like this helps your side's overall morale, which in turn increases the amount of salvage you receive in the sector.