Red Faction Guerrilla Steam Edition

It's a damn crime that no game ripped off Red Faction: Guerrilla's Geo-mod destruction feature. You take a hammer, and you use it to smash out a panel of a wall and break through a pillar. Smash out a few more walls, and maybe the building creaks. A few more whacks of the hammer later, and the whole thing comes down, perhaps with you inside. And hey, maybe it knocks through another building on the way down. It's still amazing to watch.

Guerrilla does this one thing really well. It's an otherwise uninspired open world game, with okay driving, unimpressive shooting and a boring story. Hell, Mars doesn't even look that nice, because it's Mars. But knocking down buildings in an open world is more than enough to carry this game. You'll crash a jeep through a base. You'll detonate mines and blow up a bridge, which will then collapse on top of an enemy settlement. You'll melt the beams of a tower and watch it fall over. This destruction felt great in 2009, and it still feels good now. 

That's partly because no big studio or publisher has really imitated what it does in the same way. Which, to be clear, is this:

In this Re-Mars-tered edition, which is free for owners of the Steam version as of today, THQ Nordic touts heavily reworked textures among other visual improvements, along with better shadows, lighting, a shader and postprocessing rework and native 4K support. The new version is a 24.3GB download, while the existing Steam edition is 6.7GB. For a freebie, it seems pretty good after four hours or so. I can't say I really notice vast visual improvements on my strange 1050p work monitor, but environmental textures like rocks and the ground look a little sharper up close. The lighting is nice by today's standards, too, but it's not a vast upgrade.

With my work PC (Intel I5 3570K@3.40GHz, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970), I'm getting around 90-120FPS depending on how busy the situation is, which is fine for a new version of an almost decade-old game. This edition may just give you a reason to play it again, which is fine by me. It costs $20. If it's not in your Steam library already after years of deep discounting and bundling, you should probably wait for a future sale. 

Tower fall

To anyone picking this up for the first time, I recommend focusing on the campaign. That's where the biggest destructive opportunities are, like a huge bridge and a massive tower, which take meticulous use of the object-melting nano rifle and rocket launcher to bring down. You'll wait a while to unlock all the really good toys, but the singleplayer will give you plenty to blow up along the way, as well as a dull story about miners rebelling against an army that's a bit like a boring version of Firefly. The big destructive opportunities in this campaign need to be seen, though—I still talk about them with friends years later. 

I'm not really in the mood for finishing the campaign these days after doing it twice before, but that's where the game's Wrecking Crew mode comes in. It's basically a score attack that gives you a quick dose of the game's destructive physics in a variety of settings. You pick a loadout, set the parameters like time limits and how easily the buildings fall, then knock them down as quickly as possible. It makes a great pass-the-pad party game, and there's a challenge mode with leaderboards, too. I have played this mode every year for nine years, and I will never stop.  

Sadly for me, all of the leaderboards have been reset from the Steam version, meaning I'm no longer 12th best in the world on the Abandoned map. Oh well. Wrecking Crew is where it's at: it's all the good bits of Guerrilla with none of the waiting around for the best weapons or opportunities. Over the years, I've probably played it more than the campaign. 

No imitators 

It's weird that no one else made a game like Guerrilla after its release. Destruction features in everything from Battlefield to Minecraft to Just Cause, but Volition's game still offers something that no other game does. It's the idea of blowing each building up like it's a physics puzzle, efficiently using your arsenal so it collapses in the most satisfying way possible. 

It might've been Red Faction's sparse Mars setting that made Guerrilla work in the first place. It's noticeable that all the biggest and best buildings are far away from each other, and it probably wouldn't have been possible for Volition to replicate the Geo-mod system in the vast cities of Saints Row. But that is the type of open world game I've always wanted to play, where you can manipulate the environment and feel like you've left a mark on it. We're instead in an age of open world games packed with busywork and towers to climb. I like those too, but Guerrilla shows open worlds and destructible buildings are a perfect match. 

Even old THQ didn't seem to know why Guerrilla was good. Volition followed this up with Armageddon in 2011, a bad sequel that kept the destruction, but took us away from big open set pieces to the tedious, more linear underground. It just squandered everything this game was good at—and seemingly killed the series. What a waste. It was the most disappointed I've ever been by a sequel, and was once described to me ahead of release as being like Dead Space, which couldn't have been less accurate.

Still, if THQ Nordic is bringing Darksiders back for another shot, perhaps Red Faction will get its chance again too. I just wish its influence, and its collapsing buildings, had carried a little further. 

Red Faction Guerrilla Steam Edition

What's the most underrated game on PC? This is the subject of the PCG Q&A, where each Saturday (and sometimes on Wednesdays too), we ask the global PC Gamer team for their answers to a burning question. We then encourage you to drop your answers to the same question in the comments thread below.

There's no comprehensive answer to this one, obviously, and it's just a bit of fun. We've picked games that either sold badly, were ignored despite having something to offer, or got an unfair kicking at launch by critics or players. 

Evan Lahti: LawBreakers

OK, I'll jump on this grenade: it's LawBreakers. Corners of the gaming community were fixated on making it a punching bag for their amusement, and the "dead game" Reddit groupthink that ultimately suffocated LawBreakers had nothing to do with how good it actually is. Its character movement styles are inventive—the Wraith kick-slides along the ground to accelerate, jabbing the air with a knife to swim forward in low-grav. They can also triple jump and wall jump, a moveset that gives them Wraith a darting, alien locomotion that's enjoyable to master. Gunslingers teleport in short bursts like Tracer from Overwatch, but the first shots from either of their dual pistols are buffed immediately after you blink. If you fly backwards as the Harrier, you shoot lasers from your feet. 

This is the only FPS I can think of that lets me shoot behind myself, never mind turning it into a way to physically propel myself forward. LawBreakers could've taken a much easier route and simply given everyone jetpacks and focused on unique guns, but instead it got ambitious and built weird, unfamiliar styles of aerial fencing, gunslinging, grenading, and more. It also sported some of the best netcode in years, backed up by expert testing.

Jarred Walton: Epistory: Typing Chronicles

I don't know that it's underrated, but I recently stumbled upon Epistory: Typing Chronicles, and it's great—and it was also a game I totally missed when it was new. I can thank Steam's Spring Cleaning event for recommending it as a game I should try, and I enjoyed the relatively short story, lovely aesthetic, and the crazy vocabulary. Anyway, I write for a living, so something that puts my typing skills to good use is a welcome diversion, and now I've inflicted my children with the game so that they can hopefully learn to type. My 15-year-old thinks it's great and my 8-year-old hates it (because it's too hard and frustrating).

Phil Savage: Dragon Age 2 (oh snap!)

It reviewed pretty well, but it would be fair to say that public reaction to BioWare's sequel was... unfavourable. That's fair: a game with only one cave layout shouldn't have so many missions set in a cave. In fact, many criticisms of Dragon Age II are entirely justified, but to write it off because of them would be to miss out on one of the most interesting RPGs BioWare has made. 

Instead of sending you out on a grand journey, Dragon Age II is about a single city and the people within it. As Hawke, you travel to this city, survive in this city and fight to save this city over the course of around ten years. You get to feel like a member of the community in the way few RPGs, with their huge maps and sweeping stories, can support. And you get to hang out with Varric in a dingy pub. I'd love for a developer to revisit this style of role-playing, but, until that happens, I'll keep propping up the bar in the The Hanged Man.

Tom Senior: The Sims: Hot Date

Sims DLC often takes criticism for being little more than overpriced packs of digital items. Some of the DLC is like that, but the major expansions add loads of ways for Sims to interact and grow inside your carefully manicured fishbowl. Hot Date could have been a frivolous expansion that added a few new romance-themed behavioural patterns and some nice clothes, but it ended up adding a rich strata of nightlife that gave the Sims themselves a more rounded and believable existence. 

Before Hot Date they hoovered, pooped, cleaned up mess and vanished off to work for hours at a time. Hot Date opened up huge new downtown areas where they could meet other Sims and, with a bit of luck, find a partner. The downtown area also froze time back home, which meant your Sims could have a career and hang out with friends and loved ones in the same life—they enjoyed a pretty grim domestic existence before this expansion came along. Dating sims are more prevalent now, but Hot Date brought the idea into the mainstream, and did a great job of making downtown a bustling social hub. For some reason Hot Date never seemed to receive the credit it deserved for its novelty and ambition at the time.

Austin Wood: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams 

There's no shortage of good 2D platformers on Steam. Most everyone is familiar with the big ones—the likes of Fez, Shovel Knight, Super Meat Boy, Celeste and Cave Story—but for some reason nobody ever talks about Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. It came out nearly six years ago, and it's still one of the best 2D platformers on PC—and the Rise of the Owlverlord level pack released in 2013 only made it better. (You can get the full package for under five bucks in the Steam Summer Sale, by the way.) 

The art has aged well and the difficulty curve is spot-on, but what I love most about Giana Sisters is the music. You can swap between the titular sisters at any time, and while the happy blonde sister gets bright fantasy levels and bubbly electronic tunes, playing as the punk pink-haired sister drenches levels in horror themes set to fantastic original rock songs. I like my Ori and the Blind Forest orchestral swells as much as the next gamer, but you just don't hear rock music like this in 2D platformers anymore. I absolutely love it, so I played as the punk sister whenever possible. The boss themes are especially great. Giana Sisters looks, plays and sounds great, so if you've played all the best-known 2D platformers, or even if you haven't, you have got to give it a try. 

Andy Chalk: The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home is a sort of Starflight/Star Control/Lunar Lander hybrid exploration-adventure about a small spaceship that's flung, Voyager-style, to the wrong side of the universe. It's weird, it's funny, it's occasionally frustrating as hell, and it's really good. It didn't catch fire, though, with critics or gamers: Our 68/100 review was actually one of the more positive takes, and it's still languishing under the weight of "mixed" user reviews on Steam.

A big reason for that was the game's utterly unforgiving nature at launch: it was quite happy to swat players down for the slightest transgression, to the extent that one bad landing, for instance, could signal the abrupt end of an otherwise very successful mission. A "Story Mode" option was added later that made survival (and thus the ability to actually get out there and explore) much easier, but by that point the damage of those initial review scores was done. But it's good! (I thought it was good right from the start, but the increased accessibility is definitely a plus.) And it deserves far better than it got. (If you're curious, it's half-price in the Steam Summer Sale.)

It's also not nearly as dramatic as the launch trailer above makes it out to be.

Samuel Roberts: Red Faction Guerrilla

Alright, this sold well enough to get a (bad) sequel and it was acclaimed by critics, so 'underrated' is a bit of a weird label. Thing is, though, why wasn't this the most influential game of its generation? Why did open world games become about ticking off icons, climbing boring towers and dull counter-based combat systems? Why didn't they become about knocking shit down and hitting NPCs with hammers? In that sense, I believe Red Faction Guerrilla is underrated. 

The games industry didn't see the opportunity here, and it ended up having no imitators. And yet, it so clearly demonstrated how much fun it was to see things topple over because you detonated remote charges in all the right places. Is it too late for someone to make a proper open world sequel?

I also agree with Phil that Dragon Age 2 is underrated. I wouldn't want every RPG to be set in one location, but it was a neat experiment despite a weaker third act and a thin combat system. In some ways, I guess I never really left that one cave.

Some other runners up for me that spring to mind: decent Sonic-like Freedom Planet, D4, Star Wars: Battle For Naboo, Everyday Shooter, Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure, Darkside Detective, The Flame in the Flood, Mad Max, The Magic Circle and...Mirror's Edge Catalyst, which is several mandatory, terrible combat sequences away from being a great game. I should mention Alpha Protocol too, right?

Let us know your suggestions below.

Red Faction Guerrilla Steam Edition

"Space Asshole" is a song about a man who tries to get away from the pressures and travails of his life by signing up for a job working in the mines of Mars. He foresees quiet, solitude, and an opportunity to reflect on the past and contemplate the future, all while earning honest pay for honest work. But it all goes awry when a guy with a giant hammer charges onto the scene (in a truck), smashing and killing everything for no apparent reason except that he is, as the title denotes, a Space Asshole. 

The song was released in 2009 by Chris Remo as a tribute of sorts to Red Faction: Guerrilla, and now, in a tremendously fitting twist, it's been adopted by THQ Nordic for the Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Edition launch date trailer. It's a remix, a little more rocking than the languid, defeated tone of the original, but still a great track—and a brilliant choice as promotional music. 

The remastered release of Red Faction: Guerrilla will feature "fully reworked graphics" and graphical effects, improved lighting and shadow rendering, updated shaders and post-processing, and native 4K support. The game itself sounds unchanged, however, with "open world guerrilla warfare" that enables players to fight where, when, and who they want, even if that means just running around on Mars bashing things into pieces, because you're not so much a revolutionary hero as a... well, you know. 

Pricing for Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered hasn't been announced, but owners of the original on Steam will be given the updated version for free.   

Red Faction Guerrilla Steam Edition

THQ Nordic has announced plans to bring back another old-time THQ classic with another weird, tongue-twisting title: Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered will feature updated graphics with improved lighting, shading, post-processing effects, and support for 4K resolutions. 

Released in 2009, Red Faction: Guerrilla is an open-world game about a guy who gets a job working the mines on Mars, and quickly ends up at the forefront of an insurgency against the pushy jerks of the Earth Defense Force. It's best known for the wild destructiveness it enabled: players can destroy pretty much everything they come across, including full-sized structures. And in case there was any doubt, yes, killing a whole bunch of bad guys at once by smashing a huge truck into the building they were standing on is very satisfying. 

It's all thoroughly silly—surely Martian architecture would be sturdier than this—but it's a lot of fun, too: We ranked Red Faction: Guerrilla among the top ten THQ games of all time shortly after the publisher went under, calling it "expertly paced, with a campaign that escalated into hysterical carnage." And THQ Nordic actually hinted that something was up earlier this year when it released a surprisingly comprehensive multiplayer balance update for the Steam edition that was released in 2014. All was hush-hush at the time, but now the secret is out. 

THQ Nordic hasn't announced a release target yet, but I'd expect to be hearing more about that fairly soon. Until that happens, enjoy some screens. 

Update: THQ Nordic has confirmed that the remastered edition of Red Faction: Guerrilla will be free for everyone who owns the original on Steam. 

Red Faction

Yesterday brought word of Square Enix's up-to-75-percent-off sale, and today brings with it news of Humble Store's THQ Nordic Week limited-time discount period. 

Offering up to 80 percent off select games, the THQ Nordic Week sale casts its wallet-friendly net over some of the publisher's games (Nordic Games, you may recall, rebranded last year) such as the Red Faction Collection—which includes Red Faction, Red Faction 2, Red Faction Guerrilla, Red Faction Armageddon and Red Faction Armageddon's Path to War DLC—for £7.99/$11.99. 

The Darksiders Franchise Pack comes with the Darksiders Warmastered Edition, the Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition, and 13 slices of DLC for £8.99/$9.99; while the Arcania and Gothic Bundle—which houses Arcania: Fall of Setariff, Gothic 1, Gothic 2: Gold Edition, Gothic 3 and Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods Enhanced Edition—is going for £7.99/$9.99. 

Humble's THQ Nordic Week sale can be viewed in full over this way, and, as always, I'd love for you to share your own bargains of choice in the comments below.

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

PC Gamer

Put on your hard hat and prepare for mindless destruction, because Red Faction: Guerrilla has officially made the transition from Games for Windows Live to Steam. Nordic Games has made good on its promise to save the instalment from imminent GFWL doom, but the new Steam Edition also ushers in a bunch additions and bug fixes.

Steam Trading Cards are in, while six new Wrecking Crew maps are bundled in including Ruins, Repercussion, Imperial, Expansion, Frost and Abandoned. Elsewhere there's a new Behemoth game mode as well as a bunch of tweaks to the online experience, including Steam hosted leaderboards, voice chat and host migration.

Full notes on Red: Faction Steam Edition can be found on Steam. It follows confirmation at the start of the year that Microsoft will indeed kill off Games For Windows Live, which absolutely no one was upset about. Many publishers have announced their intention to move their GFWL hosted games to other platforms, with Dark Souls being a notable example.  

PC Gamer

Each Friday PC Gamer s writers descend into the molten idea core and return with cooling fragments of what they have dubbed opiniononium . They re just like that.

THE HIGHS

Tom Marks: Grand Theft Auto V s PC port won t be a smash and grab What Rockstar is doing with the PC and next-gen versions of Grand Theft Auto V is downright admirable. Sure they are taking their sweet time doing it, but I much prefer a long wait to a slap-dash, press escape to instantly quit, port with more problems than new features. First they told us they are giving previous players a reason to come back, and now they confirm a first person mode and 4k resolution support. First person has been a rumored feature for a while, but the modeled vehicle interiors and suite of new animations are icing on the cake I wasn t expecting. A year after its initial release, Rockstar is still working hard to keep the latest version of GTA V feeling cutting edge, and at this rate the PC will be home to the definitive version.

Samuel Roberts: When systems come together I m late as hell to the Alien: Isolation party, but this week I ve been muddling through the game s colossal 20+ hour storyline in little chunks. I haven t found it especially scary, to be honest—tense, but not scary. In well-lit environments, I have adjusted to the sight and animation of the alien and no longer consider it an unseen threat. Last night, though, the systems of the game came together in a way that I found genuinely unsettling, as I manoeuvred through a strobe-lit environment and saw the alien drop out of nowhere, behind some fellow human survivors. I went straight for a locker and hid, hearing screams as the alien devoured them and then, a silence, until the locker tore open and the alien killed me, too. By itself, the alien s aura becomes undone the more you play, but the systems are smart enough to keep finding ways to make that creature scary. Brilliant game.

Chris Thursten: Endless Legend (and other space wizards) I liked the look of Endless Space more than I really found time to play it, but this week I decided to take a stab at Amplitude s fantasy follow-up: Endless Legend. Having been rather disappointed by Civilization: Beyond Earth, I m taken by just how many things Legend gets right. The combat system is an elegant improvement on Civ; empire development is involved and interesting; the UI is crisp and pleasant to use. The factions are varied, play very differently, and are beautifully presented.

It s the art and music that have really sold the game to me, though. Endless Legend s take on fantasy has a light sci-fi touch and the gentle pastel art reminds me of a Gene Wolfe book cover. This has been something of a trend recently—Destiny shows off many of the same influences. I ve been running a pen and paper campaign in Monte Cook s Numenera, lately, so there really couldn t be a better time to be surrounded by lovely hand-painted space wizards.

Andy Chalk: EFF seeks to legalize online DRM circumvention in abandoned games The EFF recently petitioned to legalize DRM circumvention in "abandoned" games, a move that, if successful, will make life a whole lot easier for retro gamers and preservationists. Older games reliant on matchmaking servers or online DRM checks are pretty much done in when remote servers go offline, and while cracks are always an option, they're often not a realistic choice. The process of legalizing this particular type of DRM circumvention is "burdensome and confusing," but if we're serious about preserving video games, both for posterity and playability, then this is a necessary step and hopefully one that will ultimately prove successful.

Phil Savage: Games for Windows Live is slightly more dead I love seeing bad things happen to bad people. Or in this case, to bad programs. Games for Windows: Live is undoubtedly a bad program, and I smile every time it comes closer to annihilation. This week, Nordic Games patched it out of Red Faction: Guerilla. This is surprising—despite their previous promise that it would happen. It's surprising because Guerilla was made by Volition for THQ—the former now with Deep Silver, the latter sadly deceased. Nordic acquired the rights to much of THQ's catalogue, but they didn't have anything to do with the game's creation; just its current distribution. To then go back in to remove the unwanted GfWL-wrapper is a step worth celebrating. Especially because Guerilla is such a great game.

THE LOWS

Andy Chalk: Dawngate is dead EA pulled the plug on Dawngate at the start of the week, a particularly surprising move given that it's been in one form of beta testing or another for the past year and a half. I suppose this could actually be seen as a "high," since a willingness to shut it down at this stage in development is surely preferable to just shoving it out the door and hoping for the best, but it's unfortunate that something couldn't be done to salvage the game, especially since some players clearly seemed to be enjoying it. It's also obviously not good news for the people at developer Waystone Games, which is reportedly being disbanded.

Samuel Roberts: High prices It s hard to figure out what s happening with Ubisoft s holiday titles vanishing from Steam this week (and not appearing on the UK Steam store at all). While opening two clients to play one game is never ideal with both Steam and uPlay, having the option to buy the game on Steam is ideal for a lot of players, and not selling through Steam is a break of form for Ubisoft. Hopefully they ll return to Valve s service soon.

Phil Savage: Fallout 4 An obvious choice, and not even a particularly notable one. Of course the Fallout 4 trademark was a hoax. This happens constantly, to the point where I've long since stopped paying attention to trademark discoveries. It s always a hoax. And yet, yes, there's still a part of me that wanted it to be true. I'm ready to see what Bethesda will do next. An open-world post-apocalyptic RPG made with current-gen hardware in mind? Yeah, I'd like to see that happen.

Oh well, there's always next year.

Chris Thursten: Oh god where did the year go Endless Legend might be my favourite thing this week, but the circumstances in which I discovered it are quite the opposite. We ll be beginning the process of judging our Game of the Year soon, and that means going back and considering a lot of games that I might have missed when they came out. I ve heard a lot of people say that 2014 was a little weak, release-wise, but the staggering task ahead of me speaks to the opposite. I ve still not started Wasteland 2 and I d like to return to Divinity: Original Sin; I m half-way through my first Shadowrun Returns campaign and don t feel ready to move on to the Director s Cut of Dragonfall yet. That s just RPGs. I still need to finish Alien: Isolation and Shadow of Mordor and, oh wait! There s Legend of Grimrock 2. And Jazzpunk. And The Banner Saga. Maybe I should give Metal Gear Rising a look? What about Luftrausers?

And so on. And so on. And so on.

Tom Marks: The Glove is coming off The Black Glove s kickstarter is finally over, falling woefully short of its $550k target. Even the belated support of big names like Ken Levine couldn t save what looked like a unique and clever concept, striking many of the same chords with me as the first time I saw Psychonauts. Raising the $220k it managed to is an impressive feat in itself, certainly proving there is a not insignificant amount of interest in the game, but setting such a high bar on an all-or-nothing platform is a dangerous game to play with a brand new IP from a team with no stand out names. Their video proved to me that they had the chops to get the job done, and The Black Glove looks like a game I d love to try, so the thought that it may never see the light of day is a discouraging one. 

PC Gamer

[Update: Nordic has clarified that it's actually going to update Red Faction: Guerrilla to DirectX 11. "Instead of just abandoning DX10 we decided to bring it over to DX11," Nordic's Reinhard Pollice said. "With this implementation which will soon be available as beta via Steam we hope to deliver a great Red Faction Guerrilla experience for PC gamers especially on Windows 7 and Windows 8." The DX11 update went into beta yesterday and is expected to be ready for full release within a couple of weeks.]

Original story:

Nordic Games said at the beginning of this year that it would strip the Games for Windows Live requirement from Red Faction: Guerrilla, which it picked up, along with the Red Faction franchise as a whole, following the collapse of original owner THQ. And now it's finally gotten around to doing it.

Executive Producer Reinhard Pollice made the announcement on Steam, where he revealed that a Games for Windows Live sign-in is no longer required to play the game. Matchmaking and multiplayer, along with leaderboards, voice chat, and achievements, are now handled entirely through Steam. The game also now uses the DirectX9 renderer by default, because "DX10 created a lot of problems and resulted in performance issues," and it will attempt to migrate saves from Games for Windows Live to the new system the first time it launches.

In a follow-up post, Pollice explained that while some fans might be disappointed by the decision to default to DX9 instead of making DX10 work properly, it's not actually going to make a noticeable difference. "The whole DX10 support from MS side is not good that's why we believed it's the safest to go for DX9 mode. This will run perfectly on any DX10 system as well," he wrote. "Seriously DX10 in Red Faction Guerrilla was just a marketing gag as there was no real advantage."

To ensure that all is working as it should, Nordic is running a beta version of the overhauled game, open to anyone who wishes to take part. Instructions for doing so are here, but you'll also need a couple of passwords, which can be found in Pollice's forum post.

...

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