Updated for Switch: Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-Tered Review
Time to dig out my hammer pants. Again.
Updated July, 2019 for Nintendo Switch: The Switch version of Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered runs (somewhat surprisingly) as well as the console version, and looks almost as good doing it. After spending a few hours in smashing my way through its open world and demolition challenges, I noticed a few slowdowns here and there during particularly destructive moments, but nothing that rendered it “unplayable.” It looks great in handheld mode and doesn’t suffer any noticeable downgrades compared to console versions when sent to a TV, either. It’ll never look as crisp as the 4K/60FPS of the console version, but its 1080p/30FPS looks just fine.
The controls themselves are, by default, a bit clunky since the Switch’s Joy-Cons are far from ideal when looking for precision aim during a firefight. However, adjusting the sensitivity or enabling the gyroscopic motion controls can provide a viable enough workaround for this, though your best experience will likely be on the Pro Controller.
The Nintendo Switch version of what is arguably Red Faction’s best series entry is a viable way to get into its destructible world if – by some tragic circumstance – you’ve already missed out on it for the last decade. That said, while collapsing Mars’s bridges and buildings in handheld mode is novel fun, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with the port when it’s displayed on a TV, there are better, more enjoyable ways to get your ass back to Mars.
When we first reviewed Red Faction: Guerrilla in 2009, we gave it an 8.0, for Great. Here’s what we said about it back then:
If all you care about is blasting things to pieces, you’re going to love Red Faction: Guerrilla. Seeing a tower topple to the ground in a seemingly realistic fashion after smacking away its support beams with a sledgehammer is really a thrill, and though it may lose its appeal as you continue through the lengthy campaign, it’s still worth checking out, particularly after you unlock some of the better weapons. What’s more disappointing about Volition’s effort is the rocky mission design, bland artistic style, weak plot and anemic character development, which shifts too much focus to the element of destruction to maintain a level of excitement. Its enjoyable gunplay mechanics, along with the weapons and opportunity for tearing apart structures, carry over into the online space, where Volition has built an impressive multiplayer suite that includes stat tracking, unlocks, and a number of game modes that focus on flattening buildings. While the game may not do everything right, it’s your best bet for free-form demolition and unpretentious entertainment. – Charles Onyett
Even almost a decade later, Red Faction: Guerrilla is still my gold standard for destructible environments in games. I don’t know whether that’s a testament to Volition’s GeoMod engine or an indictment of modern games’ lack of devotion to freeform demolition, but either way, Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered still makes it insanely satisfying to level an enemy base with little more than a few demo charges and a big hammer.
It’s not likely to fool anyone into thinking it’s brand-new.
The updates to lighting, shadows, shaders, and post-processing effects combine with improved textures to make a convincing argument that this game didn’t come out before Assassin’s Creed 2. It’s not likely to fool anyone into thinking it’s brand-new, of course – the pre-rendered cinematics alone give away that it’s not up to modern standards, and certain textures, especially those on the Martian soil, are sub-par and repetitive. It does perform reasonably well, though: it runs at 60 frames per second in 1080p on standard consoles or in “4K” Performance mode on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X (technically, 1500p and 1800p, respectively), with frame rates only occasionally taking more than a slight dip during even the most destructive battles. We did, however, notice some considerable slowdown during big explosions playing in full 4K resolution.
All of the upgrades in this new version are visual, though – aside from the bundled-in DLC from the original, there’s no new content to be found anywhere in Re-Mars-tered for returning players. No new guns or explosives, vehicles, buildings, missions, challenges, or behind the scenes featurettes or commentaries. That means the original’s problems remain intact, such as the vast swaths of Martain terrain that don’t contain anything worth swinging a hammer at. While that’s probably an accurate depiction of what a recently colonized planet might look like, it doesn’t make for particularly interesting gameplay when you just want to get to the next clump of buildings you plan to destroy. Nothing’s been done to spruce up or expand the story, either, which is still about as exciting as trip to the DMV. Still, there’s tons of fun to be had experimenting with physics, both in the open world and the separate challenge modes and PvP matches.