Video game review for Red Faction Guerrilla: Smashing the man for a better Mars

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I have certain weak points – topics that just get me interested and excited without hearing more than a few words. Armed revolution against The Man is one of those. I'm a sucker for tales of bold freedom fighters living underground and facing incredible odds as they try to tear down the system. Red Faction Guerrilla not only delivers a great smash the state simulator, it also gives you a great smash EVERYTHING simulator. Indeed, on reflection, the game's central plot of freeing Mars from the tyranny of Earth is just fine but not thrilling, but the fact that very single building is destructible in exciting, chain reaction inducing, Mars-shaking ways is what makes this game a ton of fun.

You're just a working guy, come to Mars to make your way as a miner, but when the bastard Earth Defense Forces kill your brother because he's part of the revolutionary Red Faction, it's time to take up your sledge hammer and fight the man. The game is an open world, third person actioner, with Mars divided up into six different districts. Each district offers core missions that you have to complete in order to liberate the zone, but it also has a host of side missions that lower the EDF's control. There's nice variety in these side missions – driving around manning a turret for an insane revolutionary, freeing captured prisoners, intercepting EDF convoys, participating in Red Faction raids, stealing cars, and of course blowing up buildings. Most people will not enjoy all of these equally, but Red Faction's OK with that – you never have to do all the side missions, and if there's a type you don't enjoy you can easily ignore them completely. In fact, you could ignore them all and just go around blowing up buildings and doing the core missions if you wanted to. I admire that level of freedom in a game like this.

There are a number of weapons to do all that blowing up with, from standard fare like mines, bombs, and rocket launchers, to more esoteric and exciting weapons like singularity bombs and the nano-rifle, which causes objects to dissolve into a sparkling gold dust. The pure pleasure of nano-rifling a few load-bearing beams and struts and watching a suspension bridge come tumbling down is not to be underestimated. You'll also be fighting hordes of EDF troopers, who come at you in tanks, flyers, and APCs. You can hijack any of the ground vehicles and have fun tearing around Mars that way. Indeed, there's a lot of driving around in Red Faction Guerrilla, and my biggest complaint is that often it seems like there's too much. But that's a minor quibble, and once you get the jet pack, a whole new realm of options open up. On a mission to assassinate some Earth corporate bigwigs I decided to forgo the frontal assault and instead worked my way up the side of a mountain with my jetpack and then rained down rockets and nano blasts on the building where they were meeting, collapsing it on top of them. Mission accomplished and none of the guards even got a shot off on me. If you allow yourself to explore, plan, and think like a guerrilla, Red Faction rewards your ingenuity. If you go guns blazing into every situation, you'll likely find the game frustrating at times.

There's also a robust, fun multi-player side to Red Faction, which makes full use of the game's destructible environments. It adds in a variety of cool backpacks that let your character turn invisible, run like a rhino through walls, cause earth quakes, and other cool stuff. In an age when multi-player so often feels like an afterthought, it's great to see Volition take the time and energy to produce a fully fleshed out, totally fun experience that will extend the fun-life of this game long after you've completed the single player. As I mentioned, the central story is fine. It's sort of by the numbers, but there are some neat twists and turns to it. There's enough variety and new material added to each of the six areas that I never felt like I was repeating too much, and those things I was repeating were usually things I really enjoyed doing (did I mention you blow up buildings?). Red Faction Guerrilla retails for $59.99 and is available on X-Box 360, Playstation 3, and PC, so if you're looking to smash the state or smash some buildings, this is a game worth picking up.

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