06
Jun
10

An Hour With: Red Faction Guerrilla (The Second Attempt)

Previously on An Hour With:“Red Faction Guerrilla recommends you install Raptr.” Red Faction Guerrilla can fuck off. Jesus Christ, it’s actually launched a Raptr installation executable. Red Faction Guerrilla can fuck right off. Still the patch is done. This had better be one hell of a hammer… Runtime error!’

Yes, my last attempt at running this feature had me trying different executables, installing phantom patches and, finally, shutting down my virus scanner before I could even get the game to run, at which point I had absolutely no desire to actually play the game. Two and a half months later, I’m back to try again.

Why Bother?

Good question! A mixture of that experience and Just Cause 2 had pretty much killed off any interest I had in the game. Luckily for RFG, my Playstation died a couple of months back taking JC2 with it. Sony have been apparently unable to rescue the game from its cold, dead hands. I’ve now re-bought it on PC after finding a cheap-o copy on the Internet. It’s downloading now so it’s seriously RFG’s last chance to impress. Why bother at all? Well, when one of PC Gamer’s writers turns up in the comments thread and tells you that, despite all the shit, it’s worth it, you should probably pay attention.

The Preamble

Anti-virus off. Game launching. GfW Live kicking into life. Update needs downloading. Shit. Luckily, this time it’s all sorted in the time it takes to make a cup of tea. Probably about 10% of my PC gaming experience revolves around making tea. With that sorted the game decides to work properly.

The Playtest

0:00 – Cutscene! The game seems to be bucking the trend of 98% of games set in space in that your character isn’t a space marine. For a moment I’m fooled into thinking the game will be relatively well written. Why? As your character returns to Mars and meets up with his brother he doesn’t say anything along the lines of “Hi brother,” one of my least favourite pieces of awkward character exposition. Instead the brother asks “How’s mum?” which is marginally less clunky. I soon realise how generous I was being, as the rest of the cutscene is awkward story exposition. The EDF have taken over and seem to be oppressing everyone. I’ve played/watched enough science fiction to make a safe guess that EDF stands for Earth Defence Force (Yup, I’ve just checked the manual which confirms it.)

3:00 – Tutorial time. My character announces that he’s here to mine, not gather scrap metal. I’m not here to do either, I’m here to use this large hammer that I’ve just been given. Luckily there’s a big wall between me and where I need to be.

3:15 – Oh dear God. You know, I was completely ready to intensely dislike this game, or at least not forgive it for all the shit I went through last time. That all changed when I first hit that wall. It’s brilliant! The destruction physics are properly amazing. Before long the wall is completely demolished and I’m giggling to myself like a 15 year old that’s spent a little too long sniffing gas out of a deodorant can.

5:30 – The game’s asking me to switch to remote charges to demolish two towers. Unfortunately, at my screen’s current resolution, I can’t actually make out which key it wants me to press to bring up the weapon select menu. My assumption is the number keys and the mouse wheel, but instead of confirming if I was correct (I was,) I take it as a sign that I should keep using the hammer.

14:00 – Yeah, the hammer works pretty well. In my exuberance the second tower falls on top of me while I’m destroying it from the inside. Luckily the developers had clearly anticipated people were going to be this stupid and the character just clips through the rubble, harmed but alive.

15:00 – Shit, the space cops are here!  Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I was brought here to salvage or mine or something. If the game ever explained why I was knocking the shit out of some towers then I missed it. Anyway, the cops kill the protagonist’s brother (Spoiler!) If I feel any sorrow over this act, it’s only because it’s likely to lead to a lengthy cutscene.

17:30 – Can I hammer something yet?

18:30 – Some posh British woman is further tutorialising me. Apparently I’m working for the resistance now. Extensive research shows me that I can’t smash her in the face with my hammer.

19:00 – In case you’re wondering, the thing that’s covering half the screen in the above screenshot is my character’s coat which, at various points in the game, decided nobody was going to keep it anchored to conventional laws of geometry and started to explore the screen.

28:30 – I’ve spent the last 10 minutes hammering everything in sight in our home base. People, buildings and cars all felt the wrath of my +2 Hammer of Childish Shit. Shortly after the video below was taken somebody got fed up with my destruction and started shooting me. Surprisingly it wasn’t the resistance realising they’d made a huge mistake, but instead the EDF. They feel the full force of Hammer Justice. One of them shouts “We can’t win,” which turns out to be a pretty accurate assessment as the protagonist appears to be a bullet sponge.

30:00 – I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed about my behavior, as well as the fact that population morale is at zero thanks to my actions, so I decide to go and do a mission.

33:00 – Woo! My mission is to go to a place and blow up (hammer) a load of stuff! I happily accept the task and begin driving to the objective.

35:00 – Car controls are typically sandbox in being a little twitchy but also very forgiving of crashing into things, although in Red Faction you don’t so much crash into as crash through. Another feature of the game’s destruction engine is that it fixes a problem that plagues so many action games. It’s impossible to get stuck between two bits of scenery when you can smash one into pieces.

36:00 – I get my first taste of mortality. You’d think years of watching King of the Hill would have taught me basic propane tank safety, but no. As my hammer connects with the tank the game decides it’s had just about enough of my consequence free trail of stupidity and promptly kills me.

37:00 – Okay, let’s try again. This time I might actually use those remote detonators.

43:00 – After a few barely-controlled explosions the space cops are back to stop me. Shooting ensues. It’s all pretty simple stuff and your character is remarkably resilient, even on normal mode. This is actually a good thing, as I made the mistake of playing Just Cause 2 on normal difficulty and, after a while, dealing with the army became a chore. When dicking about is a game’s primary means of fun easy is good.

44:00 – With the mission complete I drive back to base, accidentally parking my vehicle in a wall, and go back to being unhelpful.

45:00 – Colonist: “I wish my parents understood what I was fighting for.” It’s amazing just how po-faced and serious the story is. It’s completely at odds with how any person would ever play the game.

47:00 – As I destroy a skip (which NPCs keep throwing rocks into despite it no longer having sides) the game realises my primary focus up to now and pops up with a text box telling me that if I destroy buildings marked as red on the map, I’ll be lowering EDF control in the area or something. Hidden subtext: if you’re going to be a nuisance, at least be a useful nuisance. This leads to my second death of the game, as the first enemy structure I destroy turns out to be full of fuel.

52:00 – With no immediate objective in sight I check the map and notice a hammer icon. This deserves investigating.

54:00 – Shit! It turns out to be a challenge that requires me to use my pistol and explosive barrels to demolish a building. I can’t even select my hammer! Lying bastards!

57:00 – Oh, I was meant to move the explosive barrels into position before blindly shooting at them. My bad. Restart.

1:00:00 – I fail the mission again, despite having completely destroyed every wall. Seriously, look at the picture above, what the fuck’s holding it up? The ladder? How does that work? As soon as I exit the mission the tower falls over. Then my coat spazzes out again.

Conclusion

The story’s predictably shit and bizarrely serious and the game’s plagued by weird bugs (not just the coat thing, I had plenty of display issues as well.) Still, it seems to be great fun and, despite Just Cause 2 having just finished downloading, will probably see itself getting played a lot more often. Even at this stage, if you can find it going cheap, I can confidently say it’s worth picking up.

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