Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Switch Review
WE FIRST REVIEWED RED FACTION: Guerrilla in 2009, we gave it an 8.0, calling it "greatly entertaining". Here’s what we had to say about it then:
"The real beauty to Guerrilla is in the way buildings crumble. Sure, you can just keep chipping away at a building with a sledgehammer until it comes down, but it is really crucial that you look for its weak spots. The physics system isn't perfect but it is definitely good enough to make for some memorable moments. Placing a few exploding charges at key points of a tower causing it to fall on top of the building next to is just one example."
"Red Faction: Guerrilla is a great package. The core gameplay is fun and works well in both its single-player and multiplayer. Destroying buildings, towers and bridges is extremely satisfying and don't even get me started on hitting enemies with your sledgehammer - so much fun! It would have been nice if Mars were a more interesting place to be, if there were more checkpoints during the missions and if the story had been more fleshed out. However, overall, there isn't too much to complain about."
Fast forward ten years and Guerrilla is still a tonne of fun, even if it does feel a bit dated by today's standards. I remember being blown away by the impressive destructible buildings back then, and the same holds true to this day. Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered despite being one of the dumbest names I've seen in years, is a sheer blast to play on the Nintendo Switch. Sure, it may not have all of the bells and whistles of its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One counterparts, but considering the lack of solid open-world titles on the Switch, the port holds up relatively well.
I spent the majority of my time in handheld, and the game keeps up with the action admirably. Having played the positively awful Saints Row port on the Switch, I worried that red Faction would have similar issues. Thankfully the game's framerate holds up well for the most part. It does struggle a bit during the most chaotic environmental destruction, but this only has a minor effect on the overall experience. Those expecting major graphical upgrades should probably stick with the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game as the Switch's small screen and not-so-great resolution lead to the game looking very much its age. Switching to docked mode doesn't do much to improve on things either. Pop-in runs rampant along with some very muddy textures and that good old draw-distance fog, leaving the game looking rather ugly. It's still fun to play, but I wish more effort had been put into the performance and graphics.
While the game definitely looks and plays like a ten-year-old game, the level of destructibility still has no competition all these years later. Blasting through an enemy base with a bag full of remote charges and the strongest sledgehammer in the universe is a hook that had me repeatedly jumping back in for a quick destruction session every chance I had. The games destructible buildings are the main draw here but also lead to massive annoyance several times during my playthrough.
One mission, in particular, had me on the verge of tossing my Switch out the window. During a story mission called "Ashes to Ashes", I was tasked with rescuing a bunch of allies during a, particularly aggressive enemy air barrage. No matter what I did and what order I saved them in, one person, in particular, kept on dying in a crumbling building that got targeted repeatedly by missiles as I got close to it. No word of a lie, I had to restart this mission twelve times before I somehow got lucky enough to rescue the soldier before the building crumbled. I came incredibly close to putting the game down for good during this and had it happened one more time I would have done so without ever looking back. This mission was bugged when the game first released ten years ago, so for it to still be a problem in the remaster is unforgivable.
The controls are a bit on the rough side with the aiming feeling incredibly touchy. I had to play with the control options a fair bit before finding a sweet spot that worked for me, but there's only so much you can do with such small analogue sticks. Playing with the Pro Controller alleviates these issues, but in the end, I mostly resorted to using melee attacks on the standard enemy grunts. Speaking of grunts, this game can be incredibly difficult. Even on the normal difficulty setting, I died repeatedly as more and more soldiers continuously spawn in when the alarms go off at an enemy base. It's nigh impossible to avoid them too as even hiding behind a wall will see soldiers spawned within meters of your location. I'm not ashamed to say I dropped the difficulty down to easy as dying during a mission can see you having to replay upwards of twenty minutes of driving and shooting. Even on easy, I still died unexpectedly often, and the games terrible checkpoints left me replaying far too much content multiple times.
While taking back the red planet, you'll commandeer a range of vehicles, from troop transporter tanks to a walking mech; there's a nice variety of vehicles to pilot. Unfortunately, most of them feel sluggish at best and are prone to rolling over onto their backs more than a dog looking for belly rubs. Vehicles feel heavy and slow to respond for the most part with a few exceptions. Once unlocked, I found myself using fast travel more than any other game in recent memory.
In terms of structure, you'll know what to expect if you've played any open-world titles in the last decade. Open your map, and you'll be greeted by a tonne of markers indicating Main Missions, Rebel Side Activities and high-importance buildings to destroy. Obviousness the main missions feature some of the most significant set pieces of destruction and will see players taking back control of Mars and freeing rebels across the red planet. The story is hokey b-grade nonsense and plays second-fiddle to the action. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the markers on the map, especially when so many of them are the same activities repeated. I struggled to pay attention to much outside of the primary missions on my second play-through as I attempted to take the critical-path to the credits as quickly as possible.
Those hoping for any new content will be left wanting. Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is purely a Visual upgrade and doesn't feature any new content outside of the original DLC. It would have been great to see some new weapons or vehicles added as the game does start to feel a bit tired before the credits roll. If you never had the chance to play when it first released or are a massive fan, it's easy to recommend giving Re-Mars-tered a go. I'm really hoping enough people buy it to get the ball rolling on a next-gen Red Faction sequel. As it stands, Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is a fun action-packed, albeit, too familiar journey through Mars. The hardware limits of the Switch, unfortunately, leave it feeling more like a port than a remaster but there's still not much like it on the Switch right now.