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Impressions: Red Faction Guerrilla

icon_preview1The Red Faction name needs no introduction; it revolutionised environmental destructibility and it is one of the best known first-person shooting franchises of this decade. For the third game in the series, Red Faction Guerrilla, developers Volition (Saints Row, The Punisher) have shaken things up a bit. While the destructibility, powered by the GeoMod 2.0 engine, still remains its USP, Guerrilla moves to a third-person perspective with open-world gameplay.

While the new approach may have raised a few eyebrows initially, the game’s demo, which is now available for download on Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network, shows that Guerrilla is on course to be a fitting sequel to a fine series. If you’re worried that the demo may not be worth your bandwidth, rest easy; the Red Faction Guerrilla demo gives you enough to get a feel of what the game has to offer. This is one of those demos that you will definitely want to play over and over again.

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On the downside, however, the demo is timed, so you will need to finish it in a fixed amount of time. That’s too bad because the destruction you can cause with the weapons at hand, even the sledgehammer, is so awesome that you’ll want to leave the mission aside and just blow things up and raze buildings to the ground. You can even level an entire building using only your sledgehammer; and the joy it brings never gets old.

But like I said, the demo is timed, so you’ll have to get a move on. Your mission in the demo is to get into an enemy stronghold and bring back a Walker, a mining mech. Thanks to the open-world gameplay, you can go about this in more than one way. If this demo is anything to go by, Volition might just pull off the open-world approach that has drawn much skepticism.

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In your arsenal of weapons, you have your trusty, surprisingly powerful sledgehammer, a standard assault rifle, and remote charges or sticky grenades, which you can lob onto a wall, vehicle, or any other object in the environment and detonate remotely. You can also lob 5-6 charges at once and detonate them all together. Watching a bridge or building reduced to rubble at the mere press of a button was one of the high points of the demo.

In between all the destruction, you will also engage in gunfights, and the shooting controls are pretty tight. The enemy AI isn’t the brightest though. When in the distance, they will stand in open spaces, only occasionally rolling from side to side to evade gunfire. They seem even duller close-up. When you’re in cover, enemies will expose themselves and foolishly approach you, giving you an easy kill. But again, there are other ways to kill them. Simply lure them under a bridge, where you’ve already placed charges, and watch from a safe distance as the bridge comes crashing down on them.

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Once you make your way through the enemy and get to the Walker, you’re required to get in and commandeer it to a waiting truck back near the start of the level. On the way, you will face resistance from enemy soldiers and vehicles blocking your path. Of course, they’re no match for this metal monstrosity and can be swatted aside effortlessly. The Walker’s controls are understandably lethargic, but what bothered me was that even small pieces of rubble on the ground impeded its progress, and that didn’t seem right for a machine that can otherwise effortlessly tear through an eight-wheeler.

On reaching the truck, you’re job is to assist in transporting the Walker to safety. You take control of a powerful rocket launcher of sorts at the back of the flatbed truck. An on-rails shooting gallery sequence follows. Think Jeep chase from Drake’s Fortunes; not as scenic, but just as much fun. The vehicles that chase you are a lot of fun to blow up simply because they bounce around violently when shot and you will need multiple hits to take each of them out.

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On completing the demo on normal mode, a harder difficulty is unlocked. But even without it, you’ll find many reasons to play this demo over again. It’s a shame that Red Faction Guerrilla isn’t getting the kind of attention it deserves, and that was the reason for my writing this impressions piece weeks after the demo came out. If you like action games or if you just love blowing shit up and tearing shit down, you need to give this demo a spin. It weighs in at around 770 MB, and if you like it, there’s also a multi-player demo headed to Xbox LIVE and PSN on May 21.

For those interested, we have a IVG Offer preorder currently underway for the game, where we’re giving away a 16-page info booklet free with each copy. Red Faction Guerrilla is scheduled for release on June 2 for Xbox 360 and PS3, with a delayed release on PC.

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