STAFF REVIEW of Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Box art Volition, best known for developing the Saints Row titles, also had a hit last generation with its take on the Red Faction series with Red Faction: Guerilla. While it was a generally decent game, albeit with a bland story and setting, what really set it apart was its destructible environment and explosive gameplay. This is the remaster generation after all, so what better time to re-release a somewhat popular title for people that may have missed it, or want to revisit Mars once more. So the question is, is this remaster, cleverly titled Re-MARS-tered, the one we’ve been waiting for with tons of upgrades, additions and improvements? I wouldn’t go that far...

Red Faction: Guerilla tells a tale about Alec Mason and his brother, looking for a new life on Mars. Within the opening moments, you’re introduced to the oppressive Earth Defense Force (EDF) when they viciously kill your brother. This sets the pieces in motion for Alec to join the resistance and extract his revenge by taking out the EDF by any means necessary, usually resulting in mass destruction of their property. Alec now fights for liberation of Mars, and of course revenge, so it’s up to you to bring the fight to the EDF.

Ironically, I found the story missions to be the more boring and dull compared to the plethora of side quests available. So, while you’ll need to push through the campaign missions to progress the narrative, there’s plenty to do outside of that, and I actually found a handful of these other missions much more memorable, and more importantly, fun, than the campaign itself. One of the earlier quests, for example, has you barreling through tall EDF transmitters while being chased, or demolishing a ton of EDF buildings with a combat walker. It’s an exhilarating mission that was more entertaining than a bulk of the story missions, and there are a handful of these.

Set in an open world, you have freedom to tackle missions however you like, or simply be destructive and destroy every building you see should you wish. Played in third person, there is a shooting aspect to it as well, as you’ll need to engage EDF forces at nearly every turn, but the true gameplay comes from its physics based destruction mechanics. You’ll need to work on faction missions to progress, unlocking more help and more missions for you to work on. Luckily, you’re able to tackle missions in any order you desire, or do none and simply just destroy stuff, but it’s cool seeing more resistance members joining in the fight against the EDF the better your faction becomes in an area.

So, you’ve already played Guerilla before and simply want to know what’s new in the Re-MARS-tered edition? Essentially, it’s just a shiny coat of paint on top of the same experience from nearly a decade ago. Improved shadows, textures, lighting, and of course, 4K support. Having seen side-by-side videos of the original vs Re-MARS-tered, it indeed looks sharper and cleaner, but visually it still has that dated 360 look overall, especially with the pre-rendered cutscenes.

Obviously the visuals were the main focus of this release, but the small amount of DLC that was offered post launch is also included here. Aside from that, there are no fixes or extra content of any kind included. There’s a quick prequel mission that you have access to, or those wanting a little more lore, but once completed there’s no reason to play it again. Wrecking Crew mode on the other hand is nearly worth the price of admission alone, where you’ll challenged with causing as much destruction as possible within a time limit and specific weapons.

Given that nearly a decade ago, it was super impressive that Guerilla looked and performed as well as it did, I was really hoping to be seriously wow’d with this remaster, and while the 4K inclusion is always welcome, it brought along with it some performance issues. Slowdown isn’t uncommon when things get truly chaotic and explosions are happening everywhere, even on an Xbox One X in performance mode, which was quite disappointing. Camera issues are still a constant frustration, especially in chaotic demolition of buildings.

Which brings us to the real reason to even play and experience Guerilla; its physics based destruction. This is the bread and butter of this game. Not only can you destroy buildings and objects, but it’s extremely entertaining to do so. There’s nothing quite like knocking out the support and structural beams of a building and seeing it topple in grand fashion, killing some EDF in the process. Need to quickly ambush some EDF inside a building? Blow a hole through it, or drive into it directly.

Even all these years later, the environmental destruction is still some of the best in gaming. Other games have destruction as well, but usually not to this level, or they have restrictions on how much a building can be destroyed. There’s simply nothing quite like placing a few strategic remote charges after swinging my sledgehammer at a building’s corners, and watch it come crashing down.

Destroying isn’t just for fun and entertainment though, as this is how you will collect scrap, Guerilla’s form of currency. You’ll also earn scrap from completing missions, and then use it to purchase upgrades. The problem though is that you don’t earn much scrap per mission, or even for demolishing large buildings, so there comes a point where you’ll need to seriously grind to get the upgrades later on.

I remember dropping a few hours into the multiplayer back in the day when the original game was still new. It wasn’t great by any means, but the destruction mechanics added another layer of strategy onto your run of the mill shooter gameplay at least. I was hoping for a few fun hours once again with this version, but it seems those fans have long moved on, as it took an incredibly painful amount of time to even find a match. Of the two matches I was able to eventually find, and participate in, not a single one had players that didn’t drop out during the match. Even though Guerilla supports up to 16 players online, matches won’t start until 4 are present, and simply finding 3 others took an exorbitant amount of time.

If you’re looking for a deep and interesting story with fleshed out characters and great driving and shooting mechanics, look elsewhere. If you’re simply looking to demolish some EDF buildings for the resistance, and blow a ton of stuff up, then you’ve come to the right place. Red Faction: Guerilla Re-MARS-tered is a fun distraction if you want to turn off your brain, but don’t let the title fool you, this is as shallow as a remaster comes, as it’s simply a new thin coat of paint on top of the same experience we had almost a decade ago. There’s no need to play again if you’ve already have, but it’s an entertaining experience to destroy everything in sight if you haven’t.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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