It’s been some time since we’ve seen a Red Faction game to satisfy our destructible environment needs. Thankfully we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer as the next installment in the series is due out next year. Having not wanted to wait till then, I was somewhat pleased when the Red Faction: Guerilla (RF:G) multiplayer beta was announced. I was lucky enough to get one of the beta codes, and so here I am to bring you my opinion.
The glaringly obvious change for the series is the jump in the viewpoint, form 1st person to 3rd person. Whilst I was a bit wary of this change to begin with, it does open up the game for some new features that may not have worked in a 1st person game. Despite this huge change, the core appeal of the series still remains the same – the destructible environments.
The previous Red Faction games were some of the only games of their time which offered decent destructible environments. However, this time around, Red Faction has to contend with the recently released Battlefield: Bad Company, which also offers some serious destruction. I am pleased to say that the destruction in RF:G is a thing of beauty. Pillars crumble and walls blow apart wonderfully, and there are plenty different tools to aid your destruction.
Possibly the most amusing of these tools is the sledgehammer, which is one of the things that simply wouldn’t have worked as well in a 1st person view. Taking the sledgehammer to the environment results in a lovely shatter of concrete, plaster and metal. Take it to a wall, and watch as you create a new entry route into a room. Other weapons consist of assault rifles, grenades, shotguns and even sawblade launchers, but none of these feel quite as satisfying as the sledgehammer. There is however one rather large flaw with the sledgehammer, and that is how easy it is to use as a weapon. One swing of it will take out the enemy, which is fair enough. What is not fair is how it auto targets your swing to your target, making it far too easy to hit them. It really is unbalanced.
Weapons are not the only equipment you get in the game though. There are various different backpacks which can be used to give you a certain advantage. You can use a Firepower backpack to give you extra bullet damage, or a Fleetfoot backpack to speed up your movement. There is even a Jetpack for you to hover around the map on. My clear cut favourite of these backpacks is the Rhino. If you have ever heard of Rhino from the X-Men, it does the same thing as him. Activating the backpack launches you forward in a shoulder charge which will send enemies flying, or take you straight through a wall, or if you’re really lucky, both. It really does look pretty sweet when you bust through a soild wall and into some poor guy who was hiding behind it.
It’s being able to take apart the environments like this that keep the game feeling fresh and exciting. Hiding isn’t really an option anymore, because what you’re hiding behind may not be there for long before it’s blown apart. This results in generally fast fights, with lots of movement. On the downside, you really need a good number of players in the game to really enjoy it. Games that are 4 vs 4 simply aren’t anywhere near as fun.
Speaking of the games, there are two different gametypes available in the beta. These are Team Anarchy (team deathmatch) and Damage Control (territory capture). The best of these modes by a clear cut mile is Damage Control. What this mode involves is a fairly standard concept; capture and hold various control points on the map. What makes it so unique is how you capture these points. In order to capture a point you must first destroy it. Once you have destroyed the building, you then need to use a crazy repair ray gun to rebuild the structure. The whole concept is a really nice change from the ‘stand in this area’ method of capturing points. It is also really cool to be running towards a point to capture it, and as you get closer you start to see chunks of it flying off as your teammate is busy taking his sledgehammer to it.
However, not all of the game is this unique. In fact a certain aspect of the game is absolutely awful. This aspect is the map design. There are 3 different maps in the beta, all of which are very similar, along with being horribly generic. All of the maps are pretty much a square playing field with some random buildings and decor placed down. They all feel the same, and they all feel awful. Seriously, if this was a review of the retail version of the game, then the map design would have just murdered a perfectly decent game. It’s all very well having some great gameplay features, but if the maps are this bad, it just spoils all of that. Thankfully the developers still have a fair amount of time to solve this problem.
Aside from a few balancing issues and awful maps, RF:G is shaping up to have a pretty solid multiplayer offering. It’s fun, it’s fast, everything blows up and it has a sledgehammer. Oh how I love that sledgehammer!