THQ Nordic has been on a tear bringing out HD re-releases of most of the franchises they bought off the original THQ’s demise back years ago. And so far, these new versions of older releases from the XBOX 360 generation have been pretty good. As a fan of the original Darksiders, it was fun to go back in for Darksiders Warmastered Edition, and for as mixed as I was back when Darksiders II came out, Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition — yeah, the naming convention for these is on a whole other level of silly — was pretty good, not only because it looked much better than before, but because they fixed some really bad bugs that made me quit playing what was left of the first release.
While it has been nearly a year since Red Faction Guerilla got its second chance to shine on the more powerful current consoles and the PC, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-Tered (yes, I know…) has finally arrived on the Switch, and to all accounts, it’s yet another great port of a last gen gem that you should most definitely check out. Red Faction Guerrilla was one of the best open-world adventures when it was first out, and that’s for a good reason: it was one of the first “let loose” games that gives you little in the way of a story and a whole big map to tear across, checking a whole bunch of boxes and things getting continuously crazier the further you make it in.
Red Faction Guerrilla opens with protagonist Alec Mason arriving in Mars and meeting up with his miner brother Dan after flying in from Earth. It’s been years since Dan has come home, and Alec’s looking for work, so minutes into the game, you’re already learning the ropes of mining on Mars, but not long after you start smashing things with your hammer, which you’ll quickly learn is the best weapon in any open world game of its time, Dan is killed by the EDF and just as Alec is about to be executed himself, the Red Faction swoops in and saves his bacon, recruiting him for their cause against the once heroes, now turned oppressors, the Earth Defense Force, who you played as if you have ever dabbled with the PlayStation 2-era Red Faction games.
After that quick bit of story, you’re dropped into the world with an initial list of tasks, the oh-so fantastic hammer, some remote mines, and not much else other than your own wits. The structure of Red Faction Guerrilla is based on exploration, so the more of the map you discover, the more activities open up, and the more you complete, the further you get in retaking Mars from the EDF, since for every key structure you destroy and mission you partake, the more you inspire the resistance and the weaker EDF’s grasp gets on the particular part of the map you’re at. There’s six sections to take back, each very distinct from each other, and unsurprisingly, the last on the list is where you’ll find the strongest opposition.
It’s a good thing that Alec is a certified miner like his brother, because he does plenty of destroying along the way. Aside from the aforementioned hammer, which already works beautifully on its own, he has access to remote mines that can be planted and detonated from a distance one at a time (they can be upgraded to allow for more to be planted together at one time), as well as a shock type weapon, and more shooter-like guns that also double as demolition tools. They’re all great on their own, but the main treats are definitely the mechanical suits you’ll be able to jump in, that in true Blast Corps fashion do a ton of damage.
Damage in this game is by far its biggest strength. You can basically destroy anything in your way. Being able to tear walls and geometry had always been the franchise’s signature feature, and Guerrilla took things to ridiculous lengths, by not only letting you break apart just about every single piece of concrete or metal in your way, but also entire buildings, all without barely leaving a scratch on Alec. You’re encouraged to destroy as much as you can because it’ll award you with scrap, the currency that you use to upgrade your equipment and buy new weapons while on Mars. It’s an extra incentive to an otherwise incredibly fun gameplay loop of just running in and doing your thing just for the sake of doing it, without any mission or objective telling you to do so. And it all still looks relatively good, considering that the original version of the game came out ten years ago.
The Re-Mars-Tered edition ups the resolution of the game and makes it look all purdy on HDD displays, and to my sheer delight, the Switch version didn’t lose anything in the transition to portable mode. Besides the inherent diminishment in size and loss of screen real estate that would otherwise make it easier to tell details apart from one another, performance wise the game runs beautifully in handheld mode. The only thing that might be a little hard to get used to — which is not a fault of the game in any way — is playing using the Switch’s joycons, which aren’t really suited for action games that require quick movement and precision, so in case you own a Switch Pro Controller, (which I instantly hooked up as soon as I could after I started playing) that’s definitely the way to go.
If you aren’t at all interested in following along with the progression of the game and are biting at the chance to cause a lot of damage in as little time as possible, you can click Wrecking Crew mode and pick from a host of different challenges that put you right next to a bunch of crap to blow up and a ticking clock, complete with an online leaderboard. And like the first release, the game also includes online adversarial multiplayer that comes with a whole slew of different modes to challenge Internet randos and friends alike. I remember having a blast (no pun intended) playing online back in the day before all my progress was deleted from the server for some reason and I lost all of my unlocks. Hopefully that was fixed and won’t happen to you this time around.
The original version of Red Faction Guerrilla was a brilliant game on its own right back in 2009, and it’s made the jump to current gen quite well. It’s a straight to the point videogame that’s completely honest about its intent on leaving you to make your own fun, and it definitely succeeds in that regard in spades — or in this case, sledgehammers. If you haven’t had the opportunity to play this up until now or are a returning agent of destruction like myself, there’s absolutely no reason not to pick up Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-Tered (sigh…), chart a ship to Mars and partake in some good old fashioned wrecking on the go.