Last week, I received a copy of Red Faction: Guerilla, the new 3rd-person shooter from THQ. I'm a big fan of shooters in general. I played Gears of War until it burned a hole in my Xbox 360, and Gears 2 just the same. And the Orange Box was the most budget-friendly piece of home entertainment that I've purchased in the last couple years. I always like playing those types of games, with beautiful graphics and original stories and, well, tons of opportunities to blow stuff up. So I'm happy to say that Red Faction: Guerilla did not disappoint me.

Set on a human settlement on Mars, around the year 3000, you're a part of the Red Faction, a group of rebels who have grown tired of their human government, the EDF (Earth Defense Forces). While their rule, at first, allowed for widespread prosperity, they've recently made life harder for those living on Mars. We're talking humans, not these guys. Your ultimate goal is to use guerilla warfare to increase morale in various sections of the huge Martian map. Knock down a building, increase the local morale. Increase it enough, and locals will take up arms with you against the EDF. This is logical, interesting, and well-thought out.

So while yes, it's a 3rd-person FPS, and that means assault rifles, pistols, melee attacks, and all the other standbys of that genre, your go-to attack to destroy buildings. This is the most addictive part of the game. You can toss lob remote charges onto the biggest buildings on the screen and demolish them however you like. The damage is dynamic, so they'll never topple the same way twice. Pieces of material will fly off, and collecting those shards of scrap will allow other members of the Red Faction to build you better weapons. Sprint around to topple a water tower, or get involved in a more substantial mission. It's up to you - the game play is purposefully kept wide-open.

I haven't had a chance to play the multi-player yet, but the general gameplay mechanic is very fluid. You can take cover, peak out, and zoom in for a head shot, or sprint through and spray everyone. The maps are detailed and helpful, so even if you get a little lost driving around the dusty plane, you'll be able to find your way back. Your most basic weapon, the sledgehammer, is a blast to wield. Smash anything - vehicles, fences, buildings - and watch them crumble. This mechanic is fun enough by itself, but when backed up by an intriguing post-modern story (that seems remotely plausible - that is, that the Earth settlement on Mars will eventually cater to big Earth corporations and abuse its citizens), and a long single-player mode,  the game is ultimately successful.

Basically, it's a Grand Theft Auto game, set on Mars, that lets you blow up buildings.



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