Back in 2009, THQ and Volition released Red Faction Guerrilla on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC via GFWL. The game itself was a bit of a hidden gem as a lot of people overlooked it at the time, only to return to it at a later date and realise how much fun the game can be. With its emphasis on “if you see it, you can break it to pieces”, Red Faction Guerrilla was basically an open sandbox which existed purely to let you go wild and destroy everything which stands before you, be it a bridge, tower, building, or even someones face! So, with THQ Nordic announcing a remastered version, I knew I had to get hold of it and play it once more just to see if it both stands up today and if it’s as fun as I remember it being many years ago.
One thing, before I go into detail, I played the game in it’s ‘performance’ mode on the PS4 Pro, this is a 1500p resolution at ‘up to’ 60fps. There is another option for a native 2160p at 30fps but I found it more enjoyable playing it with a smoother framerate. I say ‘up to’ for a reason, which I’ll get into later on in my review…
Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered is set in the year 2125. The EDF (Earth Defence Force – no, not THAT EDF…), which were the allies during the original Red Faction game, have now become the antagonists – what a turn of events! Initially, everything was great, the EDF were deployed on Mars in order to support the miners and protect their well being as a kind of ‘police force’. However, Earths resources were running low which resulted in the global economy collapsing on our home turf. So, as an alternative, the leaders here on Earth demanded that the people of Mars must work harder and supply more raw materials for Earth to survive. You can probably see where this is going… The EDF basically took control of Mars, forced people to work non-stop, removed everyone’s rights, and overall became a right pain in the backside to everyone!
Alec Mason, our protagonist and a budding miner, has just arrived on Mars in order to meet up with his brother, Daniel, and help out in terms of supplying Earth with resources. Just a side note – people of Earth don’t actually know that the EDF has taken control of Mars as the fake propaganda which is plastered all over the place makes out that Mars is a great place to both live and work. This made it even harder for Alec to believe when he finds out his brother is secretly a member of the Red Faction, the rebel alliance on Mars. However, Alec will soon truly understand what’s going on as he see’s his brother slaughtered by the EDF in cold blood as he also almost loses his life. The only reason Alec manages to live is that a group of Red Faction guerillas take out his captors and enrol him as one of them within a matter of minutes.
Alec is taken to the Red Faction safe house where he meets up with Samanya, who is basically criminal number one in the eyes of the EDF, where he finds out about all the disgusting and terrible things the EDF have been doing to the miners for quite a while. Along with Jenkins, who’s a bit of a loony, and commander Hugo Davies, you form an alliance to drive out the EDF and reclaim Mars for the inhabitants once more. With the help of your allies, you will be completing many side-missions in order to increase the presence of the Red Faction guerrillas, complete a similar amount of actions to bring down the amount of EDF control within the areas, and finally complete various main-missions in order to fully reclaim sectors and achieve victory. There’s a lot to do, so let’s get started…
Okay, so I imagine a fair few of you out there have already seen Red Faction Guerrilla before, or at least heard of it as it’s infamous for its level of destruction. The reMARStered version doesn’t disappoint as everything you loved from the original is present once more within this new and improved version, only with more polish and sparkles! First things first, I’ve had a lot of fun with this game on the PS4 Pro, the game ran at a great framerate for the vast majority of the game, until I was tasked with blowing up a bridge – that kind of made my framerate drop to about Just Cause 3 levels, but it only happened once (I have a video below). The game isn’t serious, it has a playful attitude about it and you’re free to take on most of the missions in any way you wish.
So, you’ve been tasked with destroying a building in order to increase your rating with the Red Faction and decrease the EDF moral – do you; A. Carefully plant a load of trigger mines and blow them to watch it fall, B. Grab a Rocket Launcher and blow the hell out of it, C. Get in a vehicle and ram it to death until it falls over, or D. Smash it with your giant sledgehammer until the whole things comes down like a tower of cards? Personally, I drive a vehicle into things until it’s about to explode, then run back to let it blow a massive gash into the side of a building – then I run in with my hammer and show the structure who’s boss! Seriously, if you haven’t played this game before but you like smashing things up or faffing about instead of actually completing missions in a serious way, then you’ll love this game.
Bringing the house down:
I can’t talk about Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered without talking about the destruction in more detail! As far as I’m aware, Red Faction games were one of the first to implement an amazing destruction algorithm which allows you to cause damage and destroy almost everything you can see. Usually, environments such as floors, mountains, and rocks can’t be smashed up, but any man-made structure is a free-for-all in terms of destruction. The thing which really stands out about Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered is the attention to detail in regards to the actual damage – as you slam your sledgehammer into a wall, it breaks away in a realistic fashion, as if it’s actually breaking away as it would in real life.
Also, the structures are built like you would expect them to be in real life. What do I mean by this? Well, if you see a massive house and you start slapping it with the hammer of doom, you will first break away the exterior concrete, then you may see some internal girders and foundations which you must hack away at, and then finally you will break through the interior concrete. Also, if you smash the lower half of a wall, you will sometimes see structural poles sticking out the remaining upper half or fibreglass coatings crumpled and waving about. This was all present in the original game back in 2009 as well, but it looks even better now we can see everything more clearly.
As I mentioned above, in my example, one of the key benefits of this open destructible sandbox is that you can plan out and change the tide of war by using your head (and your hammer). Say you’re doing the main mission where you must protect a convoy whilst taking out the EDF. At one point you will see that no matter what you do, the EDF will come across a bridge and take out the convoy from behind. But what if they couldn’t? Simply take a quick detour, plant a few mines, and blow the bridge to kingdom come! No more EDF sneaking up from behind, or if they do then they now have to take the long route around! Similarly, there is a moment where you have to take out snipers in a building – you can run in guns blazing, stand back and shoot them from another building, or just destroy the foundations and watch the building crumble with the snipers getting buried along with the rubble! It’s all good fun!
The physics are also pretty awesome in the game and hold up very well. A well-placed mine could cause an entire tower to topple if you get it in the weak spot, or a few gas canisters and you could blow a whole building up in the air and have pieces fall down and cause something else to get destroyed in a chain reaction. My favourite was watching giant towers come crashing down onto buildings and ripping a hole right through them as the two collided.
Bringing a hammer to a gun fight…
I’ve mentioned a few weapons you can get within the game, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As you progress through the story and uncover new technologies, you can create new and amazing weapons with all of the scrap you can pick up by blowing things up. Initially, you will have a rifle, a pistol, a few detonator mines, and your trusty hammer. Before long you will have a rocket launcher, a shotgun, proximity mines, a freaking jet-pack, a gun which makes things dissolve in front of your eyes, and many more. By far my two favourite weapons so far are the Nano Rifle (the one which basically disintegrates anything you shoot, making taking down structures very easy) and the Singularity Bomb (which creates a mini black hole style effect and sucks everything into it).
The fun doesn’t stop there though, each weapon tends to have a few upgrade options which you can also purchase. For example, any of the bombs can have their number of deployed units increased or the amount you can carry also increased, the rocket launcher can fire multiple rockets, you can even increase the strength of the Nano Rifle. The only issue here, which was in the original and is clearly a design choice so not technically an issue with the game, is that you can only carry three weapons and your hammer at a time. So, whereas I have about 7 or 8 different weapon types back at the base, I can only pick three along with my hammer which you have to take with you. You can open any ammo crate you find, or return to base, to swap weapons and restock your ammo, but ammo crates in the wild can only be used once until they respawn once you leave an area for a while and then return.
I would have loved it if we could take all the weapons with us as an option, and had a more cluttered radial menu for the weapons, but that would make the game too easy and also defeat the object of trying to survive. You can also pick up random enemy guns after you kill them as well. Some of them are pretty good and more powerful than the ones you have access too. On top of this, you can also jump into cars with mounted guns and take control of the gun as you blast people in the face, or man various turrets you’ll find scattered around Mars which fire devastating rounds which causes a hell of a lot of destruction!
What to do whilst visiting Mars…
Let’s ignore your main goals at the moment and also ignore the free-for-all destruction sandbox – what can you actually ‘do’ in Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered? I think this can be broken down into two categories, Increase your Red Faction standing and Decrease the EDF moral…
Increase your Red Faction standing:– Do you recall early MMOs and early ‘open world’ games? What was the one thing they both had in common? Lots and lots of padding and fetch quests. Unfortunately, that’s what Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered has as well! Seriously, I didn’t remember it ever being this repetitive but it must have been. In order to increase your standing, you’ll want to help out the guerrillas as much as possible – this is mainly done by looking on your map for various light green markers and completing the mission given to you. This varies from driving a certain vehicle from point A to B in X amount of time, sitting in the back of a vehicle and destroying EDF structures as you drive past, saving X amount of people from a building, defend an area, or attack an area with the Red Faction.
So there are a fair few ‘types’ but the goal is always the same. As such, I’ve not actually completed a lot of these as they aren’t required to progress, only to get more guerrillas to join you randomly in battles.
Decrease the EDF Moral:- These are once again, quite repetitive, but they are more fun than the other side-missions. These are a light blue on your map and they focus on EDF bases and structures. Your goal here is to basically go to the marked buildings and destroy them by any means possible. This will decrease the moral and eventually drive the EDF out of the sector. Sometimes though, you may wipe out all the buildings and still have some moral left, in that case, you must drive around and kill random EDF members until the moral reaches zero. Once it hits zero, the final mission for that sector becomes avaliable to compete in (as long as you have cleared any previous main-missions in that sector).
So, the EDF Moral missions are more fun but less varied than the Red Faction ones. But the Red Faction ones get a bit monotonous and the ones where you must return a vehicle to a set safe zone get impossibly hard as you have a set time, which sometimes just isn’t possible to achieve.
I’ve been Mission you…
So, what have I forgotten? Oh yeah, the main missions – these are pretty cool if I’m being honest. These are varied and differ from one another – from driving through an active war zone whilst avoiding missiles so you can take out three power generators, to getting inside of an Alien-style Mecha suit and smashing up the EDF, and not to forget rescuing a bunch of people from three locations before the EDF destroys the buildings they are all stationed in. In terms of accessing them, as I said above, you will initially have a few missions per sector and the final, very difficult mission will be unlocked upon reducing the EDF moral to zero. These ones did frustrate me a lot because of an issue which was apparent in the original and also in this one…
Loading times. I hate loading times – especially when the game has forced us to install the whole game on the HDD like all modern games do. There is no excuse for it unless if the game is loading up a highly detailed world (which I’ll get to soon). It’s not Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 level of waiting time, but it’s still a pain at around 20-30 seconds or so in order to reload when you die or teleport to another safe zone. It takes even longer in the initial load from a saved game as well (it seems). As you die quite often in this game until you work out how best to take on certain situations, or you fail event by someone getting killed or you didn’t make it back in time – having to sit through this load time is just annoying.
Also, if you die in a mission and re-spawn, you start at the mission marker which you must activate, drive to the mission whilst listening to the same exposition and then after about 5 minutes you get to try again. Again, this was present in the original as well, but I feel they should have adapted this for modern gaming instead of leaving it like this as I just want to jump back in – I’m willing to forgive the loading times if it means I’m right back at the action, but you’re not.
By now, you’ll understand how much fun I’ve had with the game both whilst playing the story missions and also just faffing about and blowing everything/one up. I’ve not really talked that much about the setting though. Mars was a bit of an unusual choice and one I’m not too keen on, to be honest. The game is very browny-orange with nothing but mountains, craters and holes (if you disregards the man-made structures) and it just looks dull and boring. Obviously, there are no life forms other than the occasional humans, and there is nothing like water or plant life – as we are on Mars. There are various sectors, but the only difference there is the higher up you get, the more wealthy the region is, so EON, for example, has massive structures and more advanced buildings and public art as opposed to Parker which is basically the slum of Mars.
Craving for more?
Okay, so Mars is liberated, the EDF is going to stick to their day jobs of defending Earth from swarms of giant bugs and you don’t know what to do. Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered has you covered! First of all, the DLC chapter “Demons of the Badlands” is present within the game from the beginning. Here you get to play as a young Samanya as she defects from the Marauders and joined the Red Faction. You’ll get a bunch of new missions, weapons, vehicles and backstory to play through.
Single player not your thing? What about multiplayer? You have a few different modes to pick between as you grab a buddy to play with. They all mainly revolve around causing the most damage to a building or taking it down the fastest with limited weaponry, but it’s a lot of fun. You can choose what weapons you have access too, what area, what your goals are etc… It’s so much fun if you know someone else who is playing the game and certainly stands out as a really cool addition rather than a tacked on extra.
So, if you’ve played Red Faction before, what’s different? On both consoles and PC you’re getting heavily reworked textures and graphical features which add a new depth to the gameplay via specular maps. The shadow rendering and quality have been increased. The lighting has also been increased across the whole game. Most of the shaders and postprocessing has been updated to bring the game into the modern era. On the PC side, up to 4k (2160p) has been added to the options. Over on consoles the game is 1080p/60fps on the PS4, 1500p/60fps or 2160p/30fps on the PS4 Pro, 900p/60fps on the Xbox One, and 1800p/60fps or 2160p/30fps on the Xbox One X. However, from my experience, the 2160p mode on the Pro looks very nice but the 30fps is very off-putting as a lot of action can cause it to drop. I’ll put my video below of the one occasion where the framerate dropped whilst in the 1500p/60fps mode on the PS4 Pro – this is within a 15 hours playthrough as well.
Also, if you look off into the distance and turn you will notice a strange effect. the far distance directly in front of you won’t have many mountains, but to the left and right of your view, it will have. As you turn your view, the pattern continues, with mountains popping up out of nowhere and some shrinking as you look at them. It’s clearly an issue with the LOD and the fact it’s rendering the mountains rather than using a generic skybox. However, it’s really off-putting and once you see it, you won’t unsee it.
Other than that, the game is pretty much the same as the original with regards to the style, the overall feel of the game and all of the sound effects and music (which I don’t think were remastered). One thing I will point out though, the cutscenes are terrible. Well, maybe terrible is a bit harsh – they’re bad. Instead of the game running the majority of its cutscenes with in-game graphics, the original developers opted for pre-rendered videos. Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered features the same pre-renders from the original game – so they are very blurry, low resolutions, and very out of place compared to when you actually jump into the game. My video below shows you what I mean as it goes from the initial cutscene into the first time you get to play.
So, is Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered worth picking up if you’ve already played and completed the original? Sure. I’m having a lot of fun and it looks great on the new consoles – bar the few issues above. The game comes with its own new trophy list on PS4, unlike Dragon’s Crown Pro, so replaying the game will allow you to obtain a new set of trophies as you work your way through it. You also have access to the DLC content, Demons of the Badlands, which offers you a load of new missions and a chance to see the game from a new perspective. So yeah, despite its few issues, I would say the game is great and very enjoyable – I’d have no issues recommending this to new people and people who have already played it before.
The only time the framerate buckled (I didn’t add the sound effects):
A look at the game in 1500p and 2160p:
Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered is a great remaster in many ways. The team haven’t taken anything away from the game in this transition and instead, they have bundled it with the DLC and improved on pretty much every aspect, including the framerates. Sure, the game has it’s moments where the destruction can get a little too much and it will begin to buckle, but they happen very rarely and overall the game is silky smooth. There is a lot of repetitive side-missions and a massive emphasis on destroying anything you see, but that’s the beauty of Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered, it’s all about destruction and carnage whilst performing the mundane tasks of the local rebel alliance. Recommended for people who have played it in the past and want to relive it once more, highly recommended for newcomers who have never played it before.
Red Faction Guerilla: ReMARStered
- Ability to run at 60fps on all consoles
- Greatly increased texture quality and lighting
- Interesting story and setting for the game
- The physics and destruction holds up today
- The multiplayer is lots of fun + you get the original DLC story as well
- Some side-missions can get repetitive
- Bland setting in terms of the browny-orange Mars
- The difficulty curves up quite fast
- Loading times are too long and don't return you to the mission
- Cutscenes are low quality