When we got to play Red Faction: Guerilla back at THQ Gamers Day in April, it completely whet our appetite for what was looking to be like one hell of a quality title. It was still so far away back then, and we quite frankly weeped at the idea of putting the controller down, knowing that we'd have to wait several months before getting to ruthlessly destroy everything in sight one more time. Needless to say, we were thrilled with the idea of being a part of the beta, and getting to take the game for a spin from the comfort of our own homes where we could spend as much uninterrupted time as we like in an interactive playground full of buildings to take down, weapons to mess around with and of course, other players online that we can take to school and show off our mad shooting skills. Alright, so the third one was just wishful thinking, but we still had an awesome time in the process.
To catch you up, Red Faction is no longer the first-person experience that it used to be in its prequels. The FPS perspective has been changed for a more modern third-person over the shoulder type of camera angle, which allows you to clearly see all of the mayhem going on around you. It's a welcome change and makes the entire experience feel fresh from the original Red Faction titles, as well as just generally being more visually appealing - especially when using a melee weapon like the chunky and delightful hammer, where seeing your character take a massive swing before connecting with concrete just has that impact feeling that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. We should mention that even though our time with the beta has been spent on the Xbox 360, the beta is representative of the multiplayer that will feature in both the PC and PS3 versions of the game as well.
The beta mode gives you several weapons which you may use at your disposal, including your basic ammunition that you'd come to expect from a shooter, along with a couple of wonderful surprises (and the aforementioned hammer). Our favourite weapon is easily one known as the Grinder, which can best be described as a gun that shoots not bullets, but little saw-blades that are so sharp that they stick into walls and of course into your enemies. You can tap the trigger to fire them quickly, or you can hold it down a little longer for a much stronger and more damaging blow; we've experimented with a lot of different weapons in many different games, but this is oh-so-satisfying that we're sure it will leave a lasting impression in the minds of anyone who uses it. Something about that 'whooshing' sound as the blade leaves the weapon and soars off into the distance to collide with the back of an opponents neck... Nice.
What makes Red Faction: Guerilla's multiplayer stand out from other shooters on the market (apart from the fact that everything is destructible, of course) are specially powered backpacks that are there to be picked up on each map. The backpacks do a range of things; there are only five to be used in the beta, but there will be double that when the game is released. One of the backpacks allows you to move at a much faster speed for a short period of time, while still allowing you to shoot and use your hammer which gives you an obvious advantage. Another backpack we got to test out allows you to hover above the ground with a Jet pack so you can damage from the sky, and another one called Firepower gives you unlimited ammunition as well as more damage for your pleasure. Our favourite though is easily the Rhino, which is as the name suggests, a powerful burst forwards which can actually charge you through a wall to get to your opposition - or just send them flying if you hit them face first at close range. Either way, it's very satisfying.
Two different gameplay modes are available in the beta, obviously with more promised for the final version of the game. These modes are Team Anarchy and Damage Control. Team Anarchy is your standard team death match with a different name, but the backpacks and destructible environments are more than enough to add a twist to the classic to make it feel new and more enjoyable. Damage Control is a control point style of mode, but things are a little different. When the match starts, the control points in question are already destroyed, and your team must rebuild them using special Reconstructors; if your team manages to rebuild it, then the other team must bring it down to the ground again before being able to rebuild it themselves and claim it as their own. It's a fun mode and is very competitive, and you can use the Reconstructor to rebuild cover of all types as well, meaning that you could potentially rebuild a pretty hefty fort to defend your control point. Throughout the course of each match, the environment that gets damaged, stays damaged, so it's quite the sight to witness the remains of a battlefield after blowing it to smithereens over the course of ten minutes or so.
There is also an experience point system in place, which seems to be a feature in most shooting games nowadays. It's fairly standard from what we can tell, with a basic system in place allowing you to unlock more skills as you get more kills and assists. Red Faction: Guerilla is looking more and more polished as we get closer to it's 2009 release date; destroying the environment is still one of the most entertaining forms of property vandalism we have ever experienced, and production values are of a very high quality. If you think differently, we may just have to shoot a sharp saw-blade at you from the distance - you have been warned!