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Review: Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Invites you to Destroy Mars–Again

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

Red Faction has traditionally been about destruction in one form or another. Way back to the original, it was about destructible terrain. 2009’s Red Faction: Guerrilla, however, changed the formula up to critical acclaim–featuring an explorable open world with fully destructible buildings. The Re-Mars-tered version is an update to the original, with higher quality textures and some other bells and whistles to bring it closer to this generation. Despite their efforts, however, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is just a prettier version of the original—it’s great for nostalgic fans that have been hankering to revisit Red Faction Guerrilla, but it may not impress those coming to it for the first time.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

In Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered­ you play as Alec Mason. Fresh off the boat on Mars, you just want to make a new life for yourself away from earth. Quickly it becomes apparent that the tyrannical Earth Defense Force (EDF) is flexing its muscles in increasingly despotic ways. After the EDF murders his brother, Alec Mason joins the Red Faction resistance movement to get vengeance and wreak as much havoc as possible in so doing.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

And wreak havoc you can. As I mentioned earlier, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is all about fully destructible buildings, and you have many tools to do that with—from your trusty sledgehammer to massively destructive thermobaric missiles. You can choose to follow the story missions, do any of the numerous side missions, or explore and destroy. It is sort of like Just Cause or Grand Theft Auto on Mars—but also like those games, these side missions end up feeling like busy work, and only have a few standout scenarios.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

As you destroy things in Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered you’ll accumulate salvage—the ever-important commodity used for all of your upgrades. Salvage is obtainable from destroyed buildings, ore deposits, etc. Despite how common it is, it’s still hard to gather enough salvage to get some of the more expensive upgrades that are available. This is a barrier to unlocking the potential to the weapons you find. Unfortunately, you don’t get the really fun and destructive weapons until towards the end of the game, which I find to be somewhat of a shame. Still, you get access to some really fun stuff, like the jetpack, or the nanoforge which disintegrates people, vehicles, and buildings alike.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

Red Faction Guerrilla was known for its difficulty in parts, and Re-Mars-tered does nothing to tone it down. You can quickly become overrun by EDF, and despite guerrilla fighters accompanying you spontaneously at times, you will still find yourself surrounded and fighting off waves of soldiers more often than not. The campaign and side missions tend to be a little lengthy, too, so dying sometimes means replaying a good chunk of mission. Sometimes, you’ll have to replay long drives across vast, mostly empty parts of the open world—of which, unfortunately, there are a lot.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

The open world itself is a bit sparse. There’s a fair amount of variation in vehicles and buildings, but everything is pretty spread out. Despite its terraformed atmosphere, Mars is essentially a barren wasteland, with the area you play in divided into several sectors. You must liberate each of these sectors in turn to remove the EDF from Mars, and despite them containing vehicles and buildings sometimes unique to their district, there is little to explore for unless you are hunting for secret collectibles or that perfect vehicle to cause the most destruction.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

Red Faction Guerrilla has a bunch of different vehicles to hijack and drive—including stompy walkers that come in a number of flavors: light, construction, and war. There are also various tanks and APCs to steal from the EDF, as well as vehicles driven by the savage marauders that would look right at home in a Mad Max film.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

If you’re wondering if the Re-Mars-tered version comes with the original’s DLC–it has everything. All of the multiplayer DLC, game modes, and extra missions are included in Re-Mars-tered. Also included in the package is the prequel story DLC featuring protagonist Samanya in her years before being in Red Faction. This story DLC has vehicles and weapons not found in the base game, further extending gameplay—though the DLC story isn’t great, the gameplay is fun, and a slight variation from the base game.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

Unfortunately, as far as a remastered game, Re-Mars-tered feels a little lackluster. It’s a great return to an extremely fun game—but only with updated textures, shadows, and a few other bells and whistles. It does tout native 4k resolution, which is a great step towards modernization, but despite its visual overhaul it still looks like an old game. The story cutscenes didn’t get the same love, and are quite rough by modern standards. Luckily, the story itself is so generic most of the time, you can just skip over them if you want. Still, it holds up as far as mostly mindless revenge stories go, and there are plenty of hints to the game’s prequels both around the open world and in story tidbits.

Screenshot: Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-Tered

Red Faction Guerrilla is still is cathartic fun, even after almost a decade. Despite feeling like it didn’t age that well visually (with the remaster not doing much to help, besides shadows and textures), I ended up replaying the entire campaign–I couldn’t help myself. There’s something extremely satisfying about using a walker to casually stroll through a multi-story building and have it crash down around you. Though, everything does seem like it’s made out of paper, and it’s surprising just how little force it takes to bring down some of these structures. But it’s not about realism, it’s about destruction!

If you’re a fan of the original, this is a decent way to revisit the cult classic, but don’t expect too much besides a slight visual overhaul. Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One tomorrow, July 3.

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