Not long after Saints Row: The Third awkwardly stumbled onto the Switch (and eventually into our hearts), Volition is back alongside publisher THQ Nordic to resurrect another gem from the previous generation. Unlike the mixed performance of its Saints Row counterpart, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered immediately fires on all cylinders and feels right at home on the Nintendo platform.
In this 2009 sleeper hit you play as Alec Mason (who in my head is a distant relative of CoD Black Ops’ Alex Mason), an industrial worker sent to Mars on a routine mining expedition. There, he reunites with his brother who fills him in that the “Earth Defense Force” governing the red planet is actually just a big bunch of fascist jerks, and he wants Alec to join Red Faction to help take them down. Alec says he isn’t about that life, but in a stroke of genius his brother convinces him otherwise by getting straight up murdered in front of him by a bunch of EDF troopers.
It’s a classic “avenge your dead relative and maybe take down a totalitarian regime if you got time” kind of story. Not the most original or exhilarating campaign premise, but keep in mind this was back in the late 2000s where every game was too busy trying to be Mass Effect or Gears of War to worry about fleshing out characters.
The real star attraction of Red Faction Guerrilla is its destruction-oriented gameplay and it is ridiculous just how well the action has held up a good ten years later. Destructive environments are the name of the game. With his trusty demolition hammer in tow, Alec is able to go to town on virtually any building or set-piece, falling in real time and with realistic physics to unbelievably satisfying results. Much of the main campaign revolves around this mechanic, going from stronghold to stronghold and bringing down the EDF literally piece by piece. While along the way you unlock more weapons and abilities, you’ll find yourself reverting back to your trusty hammer more often than not.
This particular re-release, disgustingly titled the “Re-MARS-tered edition,” features upscaled textures and lighting, but aside from that you’re pretty much looking at the same experience players had a decade ago, which is in no way a knock against the game. The seventh console generation is home to a ton of timeless titles. Classics like Halo 3 and Skyrim are still being played and talked about to this day. On the other hand, that was also the generation that brought us Too Human and like eight Just Dance titles so it really could’ve gone either way.
Luckily, Red Faction Guerrilla certainly fits the former in this case. Not to say this title isn’t entirely without age. Certain aspects like the open world (aka the fields and fields of red sand in between all the actual gameplay) don’t have a lot to offer outside the campaign. While the remastering is a welcome addition, there’s no escaping the 2009 sepia tone aesthetic that probably dates this title more than any other factor.
These are more design choices that haven’t aged well rather than the actual game itself. On the contrary, you could even go as far as to say that the gameplay of Red Faction easily stacks up against the likes of Crackdown 3 or any other recent contenders in the genre. Not only that, but the game runs beautifully on Nintendo Switch. While you’re not going to get the most out the remastering as you would on, say a PS4 Pro, you won’t have to worry about any botched porting jobs here. Docked or on the go, either experience housed the frantic action and visuals with relative ease, save for a handful of frame rate dips, but nothing to the point of being noticeable. Hopefully renewed interest in this release will convince Volition to go forward with an entirely new entry into the series. Seeing this engine in action on next-gen hardware would be an absolute trip.
Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Dad-joke in the title aside, Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-MARS-tered Edition is an excellent ride, one that breathes a rush of new life into a mostly forgotten franchise. Those who played the original absolutely owe it to themselves to give this title a second look, and new players just trying to hammer away at other people’s space-tech will be more than satisfied.
Evan Roode is a full time journalism student and amateur game historian. His favorite song from Guitar Hero III was “Even Flow”.