Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Fall down go boom
My review of Red Faction: Guerrilla is up now at thephoenix.com.
One thing I've said repeatedly is that I'd prefer a game to do one thing exceedingly well, rather than attempt a million things and not quite get there with any of them. All of Red Faction centers on knocking shit over. There are missions overlaid on that, and a storyline, and an economy system, and so on, but at its core this game would live or die by how much fun it is to demolish everything in sight. And it is so much fun.
The explosions are great. The feedback from the sledgehammer is great. The number of different ways you can take down buildings is great. I don't know how many times I sabotaged my own mission objectives because I couldn't resist stopping and trying to knock out a guard post, but I also don't care.
Even with that said, the design is still pretty smart. The biggest concern of the developers didn't seem to be to show off their considerable chops, but to focus on the player experience. And so you can fast travel, and sprint endlessly, and change the difficulty mid-stream. If your vehicle overturns, you can flip it back over as though it were weightless. One of my early complaints in the game was that my character couldn't climb onto ledges, but then I realized that I should be smashing through them.
Recently I discovered that this game was my go-to example for not one, but two different posts in which I critcized the culture of hype: once while ho-humming the announcements at GDC 2008, and once while bashing screenshot dumps that allege to be news.
I think this proves my point.* I had no expectations for Red Faction, and it was awesome. I learned this partly by word of mouth, and partly by taking a chance on the game. Not because I've spent a year and half street teaming for THQ. That's how it should be. Right?
*"This just proves my point" © Jonah Goldberg, idiotic political pundit.