Back in the ancient days of 2001, the original Red Faction was released, and at the time, it was quite the revolutionary experience. Initially released on the PlayStation 2, the game used a then unheard-of technology which allowed players to literally shoot massive holes in the walls, creating their own pathways in underground tunnels and just generally giving them the opportunity to destroy the environment. At the time, it was a pretty big deal, and the game was a success because of it. A less-good-but-still-fun sequel was of course released, and then we didn't hear anything about the franchise for a long time. Five years later, and Volition are back with what must be one of the longest-anticipated sequels in a very long time. Red Faction: Guerilla looks to bring its trademark destruction-of-everything style of gameplay to the new generation of consoles, and needless to say, blowing the crap out of everything in sight and watching it all crumble down around you is an incredibly cool feeling.
While we're not 100% certain on the narrative, we know that the jist of it is that you'll be trying to fight the oppressors of the Earth Defense Force as a part of the Red Faction resistance on Mars. The main selling point of the game remains quite similar: you can destroy almost anything you see. Destructible environments are here in spades, and due to what are quite frankly awesome graphics even at this early stage of production, it's more satisfying than ever before. An interesting departure from the first two games is that it's no longer played from the first-person perspective. The camera now sits behind the character in a similar fashion to Gears of War as you traverse the environment, before zooming in slightly when aiming a weapon. The game is all the better for it, as you can clearly see all of the madness happening around your character rather than being limited to what's directly in front of you.
Where the first Red Faction titles were quite linear in that you didn't really have a choice of where to go within the narrative - you'd go from mission to mission in a very standard way as you progressed in the story - this isn't the case with Guerilla. It works more like games such as Saints Row in the sense that you'll begin at your base in Mars, and work your way outward as you choose completing missions that pop up on your mini-map. This could range from destroying a certain building, defending a certain section of land from attackers or taking out a convoy that's driving around the outskirts of your base. It means that you can tackle things however you'd like to, or if you don't feel in the mood for missions, you can feel free to just spend your time smashing through random objects that you find around the place.
Smashing through said objects and buildings couldn't be more fun. When we played Guerilla, we had a few different weapons at our disposal, including a rocket launcher, satchel charges, an automatic gun and a massive steel hammer of sorts that can be used for very painful melee attacks or for demolishing... well, anything, really. This hammer was useful for smashing through walls, literally taking out the foundations for tall buildings and all other kinds of destruction; in fact, we spent more time gleefully pounding through concrete with this melee weapon than we did shooting rockets. Explosions however do look awesome, and there is something that's utterly satisfying about blowing buildings to smithereens and watching them collapse before your eyes.
Buildings and objects will also collapse differently based on how you choose to tackle them. Taking out all the walls and foundations of one side will cause a building to fall over for example, or if you're a daredevil, perhaps you'd like to take the building down from within and dive out of harm's way at the last second. It will always collapse differently every time, too; no re-used generic collapsing animations here, so there is lots of room for experimentation. Another new addition to the Red Faction universe is the fact that now vehicles are an important part of gameplay as well. Not only are there your basic types of trucks and the like (which are also fairly effective in destroying most things in their path), but there is also some massive robot-like machinery which you can jump in and control. Again, taking charge of one of these massive robots and annihilating everything in your path is quite cool to say the least, and comes in very handy when tackling multiple enemies at once or opposing bases.
With a change of perspective and more ways to destroy your environment than ever before, Red Faction: Guerilla's focus on destruction makes it not only enjoyable to play through, but an absolute addiction. We lost count of the number of times we spent just experimenting with the different ways to take down entire buildings and create piles of rubble, let alone the variety of missions that are going to be on offer within the narrative itself. The only bad thing we can say about the game at this point is that it isn't coming out until 2009, and we really don't want to have to wait that long. Still, more development time on what is already looking like a high-quality title can't be a bad thing, so we'll just have to get ourselves nice and prepared for when the game comes out and the destruction of everything in sight can continue.