Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Real Gamer Review

Yes you’ve read that right, the 4K remaster of a classic game from the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 era has emerged from THQ Nordic, the lovechild of Nordic Games purchasing much of THQ’s old copyrights including classic gaming franchises as well as the actual THQ name and logo. Despite harsh criticisms leveled at their later years, Nordic Games were big fans of what THQ did for gaming throughout their long journey and decided to bring the brand back to glory while revamping some of their best games.

Kaiko Games brings a fresh layer of polish to this month’s big red release. Development studio Volition (best known for the Saints Row series) had returned to the Red Faction series for Guerrilla which they actually created back in the PlayStation 2 days during 2001. Immediately embraced by gamers all over, the franchise went on to span three more entries, each with their own unique look and feel. While Red Faction II strongly held on to aspects of the original that made it great, such as destructible environments, Guerrilla introduced the series to open world gaming (before it was an over-done concept) and expanded the destruction to just about everything made of metal in the game.

This remaster of the 2009 title is called Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered and is available in 4K for PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox ONE X, and PC with compatibility to any PS4 and Xbox ONE in Full 1080p as well, with some systems supporting HDR depending on your television or monitor display. In this in-depth real gamer review we will dig deep into what makes the citizens of Mars so incredible throughout the series and how the impact of the events in Guerrilla shape the game world around us. We will also be looking at what has been re-tooled in the graphics department, aged well in the gameplay of RF:G, and what we hope to see from Volition in future. Join us for a revolutionary look at a thoroughly enjoyable game.

STORY / CHARACTERS

The Earth Defense Force (taking up the helm after the Ultor Corp) as you may know from previous Red Faction titles has become something more like a Mars enslavement army enacting the commands of a corrupt special interest group. Comprised of military might and corporate control, the EDF have relegated the population of Mars to lives of industrial servitude. Devoid of the ability to earn a living wage, communicate back to their friends and family on Earth, or pursue their own interests, the people of Mars have resorted to staging multiple rebellions against the EDF regime.

In Red Faction Guerrilla liberation efforts escalate significantly. This is an all out civil war, a revolutionary war, for the people of Mars. Right off the bat players will feel the looming sense of disdain for living under authoritarian rule, and in the opening scene the main character will lose his brother Dan Mason to execution for his rebel ways. This sets up the stoic character Alec Mason and explains his drab persona. With a lack of emotional range, intense and cold stare, it’s clear Alec is still in shock over the loss of Dan. That being said, when push comes to shove Alec realizes that things will have to get a whole lot more violent if he is to carry on his fallen brother’s legacy and save the people of Mars from their plight.

Other characters include Hugo Davies who informs Alec Mason that he must take his brother Dan’s place in the fight for freedom, since he is now wanted dead by the EDF regardless, “They’ll hunt you from here to the ice caps,” Davies says. Samanya war born on Mars and provides research and development of all weapons and tools you’ll use to liberate Mars. She is also the reason the Red Faction exists again, with a few secrets of her own origin that come to light as you play the game. Randy Jenkins is another very interesting character in the game who fled to Mars to escape a troubled past. He is wanted by the Hong Kong government back on Earth for alleged terrorist acts and came to Mars using forged paperwork. A cameo is made by Parker, the protagonist from the first Red Faction, who can be found living out his old age in The Badlands.

Although many characters in Red Faction Guerrilla are merely a means to the end of storytelling, there’s usually extra lore to dig deeper into for those willing to do so. I found many of them interesting and complex upon consideration, even if their first impression may seem one dimensional to a lot of players.

GAMEPLAY

In Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered players will be taking back all regions of Tharsis one at a time eventually leading to the all-on assault against EOS in their center of operations. Beyond this, mining, destroying buildings for key control points, rescue missions, courier chases, and convoy interceptions are all method used to help stage the rebellion. There will also be demolition master challenges, stealing transporter vehicles, defending against waves of troops in EDF assaults, providing gunner support to collateral damage missions, kill-streaks that boost morale, and an ever-expanding Guerrilla Handbook with video tutorials to help you understand the exact procedure of ending the unfree labour state.

Destroy key EDF facilities to increase morale and gain control for the Red Faction. Do this for every district before attempting story missions, since they’ll net you much better rewards and you’ll even get locals joining you during fire-fights. Assets of minor and medium importance to the EDF can be destroyed with little to no planning. Simply fire a rocket launcher or throw down some well-placed remote charges to get the job done. Alternatively, a heavily armored stolen EDF vehicle can plow right through many structures on its own. Later on, your rocket launcher will serve a greater purpose; taking birds out of the sky as they stalk you firing down on Masson and anyone near him.

Many high importance targets like massive bridges or power reactors will require thinking outside of the box to eliminate. One very cool aspect of RF:G is that players can find their own methods of mayhem. There is more than one way to take out targets that aren’t meek.

The morale system is not morality-based since this is a linear game, but does punish players for accidentally or purposefully killing innocents. The morale of an area affects your people deeply and they’re not afraid to tell you if they disagree with your methods. You can participate in Guerrilla Raids of EDF Property for control and morale points. Good morale has many benefits including increased salvage per mission and more supplies found in ammo boxes around the open world.

Some of the weapons you’ll wield on your rebellious journey include the iconic sledgehammer, remote detonation charges, the grinder, rocket launcher, thermobaric rockets, nano rifle, gauss rifle, singularity bombs, the stonebreaker, the shattermaster, the goldbreaker alpha, and the gutter. All of these can be upgraded and changed in nature with ammo on-hand for each expanded as you go.

Throughout the very fast-paced shooting there are plenty of moments where players notice that the arcade-style gameplay differs from the original Red Faction games. This can be seen as a negative by some purist players. However, we feel that it makes a good fit for the Guerrilla title and the Re-Mars-tered Edition does tighten things up considerably for both driving and bullet collision systems.

Though a linear game, your actions do feel like they have some amount of consequence to the people of Mars. You must save people and supplies during one mission, called Ashes to Ashes, in which the EDF rain down hellfire to cover their withdrawal from a district the Red Faction has successfully taken over.

Don’t forget the loveable hill billy with a rocket launcher turret seat on his vehicle reserved just for Mason. He’s a fanatic that’s against the terra-forming of Mars saying at one point, “Do you know why they’re doing all this Mason? So they can screw it all up one more time. They wanna drill another hole straight to hell but I’m not gonna let ’em,” which probably should’ve been a red flag right there. Regardless, he’s useful to the cause for now and provides something of a comic relief in his missions which challenge players to do millions of dollars of damage to EDF property during brief drive-by shootings.

In Blast From The Past players collect hidden tags to uncover the location of Ultor-Era bombs and context to the past events of the series which may or may not have been covered in previous games. In Rallying Point players protect the miners who dare rebel against the EDF in peaceful protest but are then gunned down in cold blood. Stop their oppressors before the casualties are too high and the surviving people will join the Red Faction.

Each district brings new story missions, weapon blueprints, new vehicles, and stronger enemies. Salvage becomes more and more precious of a currency as the game goes on as well. New enemies beyond the EDF present themselves as well, in the Marauders, who don’t believe in the Red Faction and take to a primitive kill-or-be-killed way of thinking.

Imagine my surprise when I saw “cheat unlocked” on the screen. A modern day missing-in-action feature from the era of classic gaming has resurfaced. Cheats can be unlocked as the game progresses, but they’re for fun only. Using cheats like Super Hammer are pretty awesome for a quick blast of mayhem but disable trophies / achievements to keep things fair.

GRAPHICS / PERFORMANCE

All things considered, RFG: Re-mars-tered is an excellent looking game. From the display menu of a Pro or X console players will have the ability to choose between frame-rate performance or texture quality preference options.  This title looks incredible even considering the balancing of detail and delivery. Overall, the engine performs Mars-terfully (see what I did there? Cringe, I know) but the game’s cut-scenes have not aged quite so gracefully and failed to get fixed up for some reason.

Screen tearing witnessed in the original has been completely eradicated. No longer held back by the Xbox 360’s hardware limitations, we can now see the full potential of Volition’s creation. Kaiko Games has done a lot of work to make sure this game can stand side by side with modern productions as well, adding specular mapping, completely remade textures and models, improved shadow rendering, anti-aliasing, shader technologies, post-processing effects, and lighting techniques.

Experts have taken apart Red Faction Guerrilla Re-mars-tered and revealed that the PlayStation 4 Pro version can run 4K resolution at a solid 30 frames per second or 1500p resolution at 60 frames per second. The original PS4 and PS4 Slim perform 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Xbox ONE and the S model will look a bit less impressive with 900p resolution at 60 frames per second (a problem with many third party Xbox titles this generation) meanwhile the powerful Xbox ONE X can do 1800p at 60 frames per second or 4K at 30 frames per second.

PC Gaming rigs will be able to max out at authentic 4K Native resolution (consoles use checker-board and/or upscaling techniques, and typically don’t do 4K native yet; maybe next-gen) with 60 frames per second or even higher as potential possibilities – depending entirely on the set-up of a person’s computer parts and software configuration of course.

SOUND / MUSIC / VOICE ACTING

Sound direction is most certainly on point in RFG, leaving us to question whether Volition’s staff included a mad man recording audio of himself demolishing buildings with a sledgehammer and exploding glass with dynamite. The step-up in quality performed by Kaiko Games for the remaster is certainly noticeable as well. Featuring the fully 3D surround sound aspects we’ve come to expect as gamers, hits are impactful and help keep the adrenaline flowing in this action romp.

Music in RFG does an excellent job of matching the tone with each moment and provides scores of melodies that amplify immersion into the game’s world. The ferocity of the Martian colonists and their struggle against the tyrannical military-industrial complex of Earth feels really close to the heart as an orchestra helps bring the game fully to life.

REPLAY VALUE

In Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered, extra objectives and side missions are so fun and satisfying that they don’t feel quite as repetitive as they really are. With an open-world in which the side content is actually optional, some credit is deserved to the development team for giving a real feeling of meaning to them.

Guerrilla Actions, mentioned earlier in the review, are not the only cause for replay value and adding hours to your play-through. There’s also a number of interesting aspects that keep the game going beyond the pleasure of destroying including a very fun trophy list, Wrecking Crew, Online Multiplayer, bonus missions and an alternative ending. The PC version even has mods available adding to the replay value, with users who owned Red Faction: Guerrilla receiving a FREE upgrade to the Re-Mars-tered edition!

Some of our favorite RF:G Trophies:

  • Disaster Area – Destroy 1 billion credits worth of EDF Property: Make sure when you attempt this one you understand the difference between property that has been liberated by the population of Mars and property that the EDF holds. EDF’s stuff will be red on the mini-map. Now get destroying!
  • Best Friends Forever – Kill 100 EDF with the sledgehammer during the campaign: At first I was wondering about the name of this trophy, and then I realized I’m becoming best friends with the sledgehammer not the EDF skulls I smashed in! Hilarious! It’s really fun to pull this off and will save on ammo. There are times when you’ll need to pull that gun out though, of course.
  • Clean and Righteous! – Destroy 5 High Importance Targets: This is one of the most satisfying parts of the game. You can go about it in very different ways. It might take a while, some creativity, and / or absolutely brutal force, but the pay-off is an amazing feeling.
  • Got Any Fingers Left? – Beat All Pro Times in Demolitions Master: Throughout the game there are timed challenges that test your demolitions skills and require strategic usage of explosive equipment. You calculate the structural integrity of a building and try to take it down as fast as you can. Many of these serve as a sort of fun puzzle of brick and bombing.
  • Wrecking Ball – Score 25 million points worth of destruction in Wrecking Crew: Get the friends and family involved in taking down buildings. You’ll be surprised how many people are just one good bombing away from becoming gamers for life. And the good ole fashioned local multiplayer mode allows people to play together without the need for multiple PS4 game systems which is rare these days.
  • Mad Genius – Complete 16 hidden challenges in Multiplayer: If you enjoy Easter egg hunting in video games then this one is for you. Don’t be a cheese and start googling it, find it in game like a real gamer! It will feel like a much bigger accomplishment in the end.
  • lost_memories – Locate All Missing Radio Tags: I like this trophy because I’m very much into lore for games. You can get a lot of backstory and while it isn’t necessary to the main plot of the series, it does really paint the picture of a lived-in world that has a lot of complexity to it underneath the simple surface.

ONLINE / LOCAL MULTIPLAYER

Wrecking Crew (Local Multiplayer):

Red Faction Guerrilla features both local and online multiplayer with different modes and maps. The 1 – 4 player challenge mode of Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered, called Wrecking Crew, presents 6 modes complete with Leaderboards, character selection, and other options. It’s a great way to expand an already great story-based, open world title with a way for people to get their destruction on together.

  • Total Chaos: Do as much damage as possible in 1 minute with unlimited ammo.
  • Behemoth: Use a Walker (mech) to do as much damage as possible in a short time.
  • Challenge: Play level-specific challenges and compare your high scores to others online.
  • Escalation: Do as much damage as possible to win a round with limited ammo. Each round, ammo and time limit increases.
  • Barrel Dash: Destroy as much red and blue barrels as you can in 60 seconds.
  • Rampage: Do as much damage as possible in 3 minutes. Every shot you take with a weapon and every backpack item activation cost you time.

Maps can be chosen including Complex, Watch Tower, Vista, Factory, Cascade, Pipeline, Scraphead, Fortress, Gulch, Transmission, Ruins, Repercussion, Imperial, Invasion, Expansion, Frost, Abandoned, Stratosphere, a Nordic Bonus map. Backpack items can also be chosen including Jetpack, Thrust, Rhino, Tremor, or randomized backpack items.

Other options that can be customized include random or selected weaponry to get the job done, rounds to win a match, Walker (mech) types, how easily buildings collapse, explosive barrels, and playing without time limits.

Online Multiplayer:

The full features of the online multiplayer found in Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered include training videos, new destruction-based modes, spectator mode, badge / character / sledgehammer customization, stats tracking and unlockable content, full matchmaking solo or in a party, and custom match capabilities.

  • Anarchy: 3-6 players with parties of 1 maximum. This mode is something like a deathmatch but with the trademark destruction of Red Faction Guerrilla.
  • Bagman: 3-6 players with parties of 1 maximum.
  • Team Anarchy: 4-8 players with parties of up to 4 maximum.
  • Team Bagman: 4-8 players with parties of up to 4 maximum.
  • Team Objective: A playlist of Capture The Flag, Damage Control, and Demolition game modes with 4-10 players per match comprised of parties up to 4 maximum.
  • Siege: A game mode of 6-12 players with parties of up to 4 maximum.
  • Large Mixer: A playlist of Team Anarchy, Capture The Flag, and Damage Control game modes with 8-16 players per match comprised of parties up to 4 maximum.

FINAL VERDICT

Red Faction: Guerrilla was an excellent game when we first got our hands on it so many years ago. It feels like it was just yesterday when we first got our hands on the title at industry events, seeing the new direction for a beloved classic series. Time flies when you’re having fun, and even though the industry was so much different then – this game stands up to the test of time quite well.

Volition’s decision making during the development of Red Faction: Guerrilla can be seen in retrospect as that of an open world that makes sense and doesn’t lose focus of its narrative-driven vision. There will be no saving of cats, fetch-quests, or other such nonsense here. Guerrilla Actions all comprise of optional ways to fight the good fight for the people of Mars, and are rewarding in their own way while feeling right for the game world.

Kaiko Games has done an incredible job of smoothing over any rough patches that could’ve hindered our nostalgic look back at the platform agnostic freedom-fighting shooter title. Whether you’re taking buildings down in 4K re-living the story of Mason and his ragtag group of comrades, blowing away opponents in a competition of skills in online multiplayer, or inviting your dinner guests to see who can act out their Godzilla fantasy with the highest score in Wrecking Crew, Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Edition is a shining star. It’s so good, we’ll even forgive THQ Nordic for the awful pun in the title which has surely drawn quite a bit of skepticism by now. With love, RealGamerNewZ scores this game a 9 out of 10 making it one of our few Gold games of 2018.

OFFICIAL TRAILER

RGN Rating: 9 / 10 (Gold Game)
Developer: Volition, Kaiko Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Available On: PS4, PC, Xbox

Played On: PlayStation 4 Pro

Release Date: July 3, 2018 (North America)

Review Copy Info: Two digital copies of this game were provided to RGN for free by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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