It’s just another day at the Mars arrival terminals, finally making it to the still mostly red rock after several day of travel, people hurrying about you as if they have tremendously important business to attend to. You’re a miner, meeting your brother, but that future career ends quite abruptly as you’re brother dies in a what might be considered an act of heroism, sparking the start of a life that was more chosen for you than chosen by you.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Mars has never looked so good in Red Faction: Guerrilla

Alec Mason is a tough miner, wielding a mighty hammer of justice that can break through just about anything, save the actually ground, on the planet. It’s more open than the first two Red Faction games, not quite on the same level of the Grand Theft Auto’s of the day, but you’ve got the choice complete every available side mission before continuing on the various story missions. Story missions which, to this day, contain a very well thought out narrative.

You’re fighting for the independence of Mars, which is under some very tyrannical rule overseen by the Earth Defense Force that really only sees the planet, and the people, as mere resources to continue the human race. But the Martians, as they’re calling themselves, want more than to be exploited. The story, if you happen to pay attention to it, is a very sad tale of struggle against the EDF. You take on a role that your brother left (rest his soul) and discover a multitude of very dynamic and exciting characters along the way. There’s also a bit of alien intrigue thrown in that isn’t at all out of place. It doesn’t take the forefront, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

The best part of the game is that in the future, Mars is actually being terraformed so there’s plenty of different landscapes that you can drive and bound across (gravity being less than that on Earth). It’s not all dusty, desolate terrain that evokes feelings of despair, there are also plenty of green, and even icy, vistas that also invoke feelings of hopelessness despite the relative advancement in technology that have brought it.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

The mechanics are all still fairly sound by modern standards too. Running and jumping are quick and easy with responsive controls. The gun-play isn’t advanced by any means, but it’s not terribly hard to hit hat you’re aiming at with the ragdoll physics, courtesy of PhysX are exceptionally hilarious. THQ and Volition took great care to use the lower gravity to great effect. Shooting people is only half the fun, though, because that hammer, almost as magnificent as Mölignar is terrific to swing around. Really if you move around often enough to regenerate your health, that hammer is the only weapon you need. Slam and smash them six ways from Sunday and enjoy the hilarious results.

It’s the hammer and all the destruction that the franchise started with that most ubiquitous of tools that really helps to make the game attractive, even today. Every structure and vehicle, and person, can be destroyed. And all you need is your hammer. It’s fun to take on the little timed competitions that rate how well you can destroy a building with limited resources, however. Set up those mines to make it implode for a beautiful display, or simply make it explode outwards as much as possible. It’s the best mechanic ever, and while it isn’t quite as encompassing as the first Red Faction and the sequel, it’s enough to keep you coming back.

Aside from the fascinating story, which is actually quite gripping, the gameplay is very similar throughout. Missions take on a very similar visage and there isn’t much variety in how you go about them. But there’s one thing in common that makes those missions exciting; destruction.

The graphics are of the DirectX 10 variety, not quite cutting edge, but they’re reasonably nice. With AA or at 4K it looks good. Good enough at least to make it not feel like you’re playing a game from 2009. The best part of it is that you can find some really pretty vistas from the game if you stop to take a look. With the sun rising through the hazy, half-terraformed, atmosphere. It’s actually really pretty. It won’t win any graphical awards, but at least it means it’s playable on just about anything modern. With my test system that has an i7-6700K and a singular Titan X, it maintains a locked 60FPS with no crashes or issues to report. It supports modern resolutions without issue as well, aside from more uncommon ultra wide resolutions.

Red Faction: Guerrilla isn’t exactly an ancient game, nor is it “retro” by many standards. But it’s older and coming to the point where it may not necessarily be immediately appreciated due to that age. It’s fun though, with tremendous replay value. The destruction element is almost better then that of the one found in Just Cause 2 and 3. It’s worth taking a look if you’ve never played it, and is a good value especially no due to the likely low prices you can find it on Steam. It didn’t win any great awards when it was released, but it’s a tremendously fun game. Easily better than some modern games even! You’d be hard pressed to see a more fun romp through the desert as you do with Red Faction: Guerrilla.