After nearly eight years, the time has almost come for us to get our arses to Mars. That's how long it's been since we last visited the planet for shooty antics, in the original Red Faction. Of course, the scenery-chewing FPS did get a sequel back in 2002, but it was set on Earth. While the second game certainly had its fans, it failed to generate the same excitement and enthusiasm that greeted its predecessor. As a result, most people are probably hoping that this game will be something of a return to form, as well as to the planet itself.
Red Faction Guerrilla is set some 45 years after the close of the last game. Mars is now being ruled by the Earth Defence Force - the military good guys who showed up to save the day at the end of the first story. Unfortunately the EDF have since turned into a bunch of fascists who like to oppress people before shooting them in the head. You play Alec Mason, a troubled miner who heads to Mars in an attempt to turn his life around. Alec wants no involvement with the Red Faction, the infamous resistance group fighting the EDF, but then his brother gets murdered by a group of jack-booted thugs. Before you can say but-I'm-not-a-terrorist, Alec grabs his hammer and starts hitting soldiers in the face.
If you've read the previous previews we've run on the site, you'll know that this results in an open-world action game with a third-person perspective and a heavy emphasis on blowing stuff up. In the weeks immediately following the announcement of Guerrilla, a fair percentage of the series' fanbase started making unhappy noises about Volition's decision to abandon its first-person viewpoint. However, once more detailed reports of the game started to surface, most of the criticisms started to dry up - largely due to the fact that Guerrilla boasts some of the most impressive destruction physics ever seen in a video game.
I was pretty blown away by the effects when I first checked the game out last year, and during that session I was able to play through the whole of the first chapter in the single-player campaign. Rather than going over the same details again, I thought it might be more interesting to focus on what seems to have changed since then, and some of the other modes you'll get to play with when the final code is released in June.
The first thing to note is that the graphics seem to have been given a bit of a touch up. There's nothing radically different from what was on display last autumn, but the inhabitants of Mars and the surrounding scenery have both been given a slight makeover; this is particularly evident in the rocky outcrops that litter the game world, which now look a lot more rounded and naturalistic. At a guess, I'd also say that the textures have been a bit of a polish: human characters and vehicles both look slightly more detailed and less cartoony than how I remember them, although I freely admit that this may be my memory letting me down. There have also been minor changes to salvage - the scrap metal used as the game's make-shift currency. On the previous build I played, this was represented by large collectible cogs that showed up every time you trashed a building; now it takes the form of twisted bits of metal. It's a more sensible choice of appearance, and though the new junk is initially harder to spot, Volition have given these pick-ups a shiny blue sheen that indicates their value.