Red Faction: Guerilla… Re-Mars-tered (it pains me to say that) is the first time I’m getting my hands on a Red Faction game. I’ve always been interested in playing Guerilla and Armageddon when they released on the last-gen consoles, but never actually got around to it. Now that they have come out with the… Re-Mars-tered edition, I decided to check it out on Nintendo Switch and finally see what this game is about.
Red Faction: Guerilla is a third-person, open-world shooter set on the planet Mars in the year 2126. You play Alec Mason, a mining engineer that arrives on Mars to reunite with Dan – his brother – and begin a new life. Shortly after arriving on Mars, Alec and his brother go mining for scraps and while on the job discussing how the Earth Defense Force (EDF) is treating the people of Mars like slaves, they are attacked by an EDF gunship that ends up killing Dan. Alec gets saved by the Red Faction and is told that what Dan was saying is true and how he must become a Guerilla and join the Red Faction to take down the EDF, avenge his brother and free the people of Mars.
This all happens within the first hour of the game and honestly, it’s as much story you’re going to get within the 20-ish hours of the main campaign missions. Other than the last few missions towards the end, there isn’t much of a story here. You’re mainly just going from mission to mission, objective to objective until you liberate each section of the map and remove the EDF threat, which is how you unlock story missions as you progress. Whenever the story would be present – with cutscenes and dialogue – it was always interesting and despite the lack of a story, I still enjoyed my time with Red Faction: Guerilla because what I was doing was entertaining enough to keep me engaged.
To liberate the people of Mars you have to lower the control of the EDF in each region by completing a wide range of side objectives with most of them being enjoyable, but they all start to get tedious after a while. Each side-objective will either lower EDF control, raise worker morale, give you scraps (the currency on Mars) or have a combination of the three. For example, in house arrest, you have to drive to a location where the EDF has a few workers hostage and you have to untie them and return them to a safe house. Doing this will give lower EDF control by 25 and raise morale by 25. Raising morale will make it more likely that the workers will fight alongside you whenever they’re around, while also giving you bonus scraps the higher it is after completing story missions, but dying or getting a worker killed will lower morale. Some other side objectives include transporter – collecting a vehicle and bringing it to the safe house in the time limit for scraps, EDF assault – defending a base from an EDF attack, and Guerilla Raid – the opposite of an EDF assault.
The driving and shooting mechanics in Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-tered still feels very much like a last-gen title, especially the driving. The majority of the cars feel heavy and slow and they just don’t control very well because of it. I was constantly struggling to turn my vehicle even on curved roads, and for most sharp turns, I would have to stop outright. Shooting mechanics also feel like last-gen but in a good way. The way this game controls reminded me of Crackdown on Xbox 360, which is a game I loved, so handling this game feels very nostalgic and surprisingly great. I did have to change the controls to a more modern control layout for shooters, but once I did there were no problems.
There are eight different weapons you can use in Red Faction: Guerilla from assault rifles to snipers and rockets to proximity mines, but you can only equip three at a time. You can get these weapons by picking them up from enemies or purchasing them from the safe house with scraps. You can also purchase health upgrades, increase ammo capacity and buy backpacks that give you abilities such as a damage boost, instant healing or x-ray vision but you can only equip one at a time.
As mentioned previously, Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-tered feels like a last-gen title in many ways, but the destructibility is still very impressive to this day and definitely my favourite part of the game. You can destroy just about everything in this game (which also gives you scraps) with very realistic physics and debris that constantly impressed me every time. You can use the explosives you gain throughout the game to destroy things or you can use your hammer that has a permanent spot in your inventory, which can be upgraded later on. Taking down buildings or even small huts was always exciting and gave you this sense of accomplishment after watching them fall and collapse into rubble. Unfortunately, this is where you see the limits of the Nintendo Switch.
I can’t remember the last time I played a game that ran so poorly on a console, but I also don’t remember the last time I was so forgiving of it. Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered doesn’t just play like a last-gen title it also looks like one. The graphics don’t look anywhere near a current-gen videogame, but considering what this game is offering in terms of destruction and scale on a portable console, I was very much okay with it. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch can barely handle it.
There are two modes to choose from for performance: high performance and high quality, and both of them run quite bad in docked and portable mode with one outlier. Surprisingly, the best mode to play on is high quality, portable mode since it is definitely the most stable when it comes to framerate. Every other method of playing on Nintendo Switch has terrible framerate drops mainly when there is tons of explosions and destruction around you. It could get as low as 15FPS when there is a lot happening on screen which is terrible, but again, knowing what this game was offering on a portable console, I was kind of forgiving of it. I don’t think we have ever seen this kind of destructibility on a portable console before, so playing it realizing what I’m doing in the game and what platform I’m doing it on impressed me regardless of how it ran.
Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered is a great time if you don’t care about the story and you just want to mess around in an open-world destroying everything in sight. It can feel a little long because the side-objectives can begin to feel tedious after a while, but the immensely impressive destructibility for just about everything and the nostalgic mechanics of the last-gen console games like Crackdown will keep you engaged to the end. Unfortunately, the framerate suffers from said destructibility, but if you’re getting the Nintendo Switch version to play exclusively portable, turn on that high-quality mode and NEVER dock it.
Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
A great time if you don’t care about the story and you just want to mess around in an open-world destroying everything in sight. It can feel a little tedious after a while, but the immensely impressive destructibility for just about everything will keep you engaged to the end.