Sunday 20 October 2019

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered review: It's hammer time again

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered, PS4/XO/PC ★★★★ Age: 16+

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered
Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Nine years is a long time in gaming. Genres come and go, technology rapidly changes, and what seemed cutting edge a decade ago stands little hope of holding out against the shiny baubles of 2018.

So it is with this remastered edition of 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla from mayhem expert Volition. A studio that enjoyed greater success with GTA knock-off Saints Row, Volition certainly knows how to champion chaos in its game systems. And nothing is more chaotic than the militia-run colony of Mars where Guerrilla, the third instalment of what is nominally a shooter series, is set.

Revisiting the Red Planet nine years on, it feels barren in most ways except one: that extravagant technology in which all buildings are vulnerable to destruction by weapons, bombs or, most amusingly, a sledgehammer.

The new 2018 paint job can't gloss over the often-bland palette of browns, the pedestrian story and mission design, nor the anaemic gunplay. But oh my, put a hammer in your hands and suddenly Re-Mars-tered sparks like nothing else. The fun comes from taking out the walls or pillars and gleefully watching as the buildings collapse realistically in clouds of debris and shards of metal.

There's even a whole mode devoted to competitive destruction, which helps masks the somewhat insipid other multiplayer options. Red Faction: Guerrilla was a decent game for its era but the only aspect that has truly stood up to the test of time is the bedlam unleashed when everything starts coming down around your ears. That alone is worth the low price of admission.

Bomber Crew

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age:12+

Like the aerial equivalent of spinning plates, Bomber Crew demands you keep tabs on several tasks at once in this deceptively tricky WWII sim. Despite the cartoonish cast of bobble-headed characters and the simplistic landscapes, surviving a bombing run feels anything but child's play, entailing a lot of concentration and a side order of luck.

Part of the problem stems from the fussy control system (presumably a carry-over from the PC version), which requires rapid and accurate clicking to issue concurrent orders to your seven crew (pilots, engineers, gunners, etc). When the proverbial inevitably hits the fan, only cool heads will prevail.

Behind its friendly facade, Bomber Crew packs a welter of historical detail and an atmospheric soundtrack to complement its strategic depth. It feels unfair at times because it is unfair, and some strange design decisions don't help. But it's a rewarding sim for any strategy nuts prepared to persevere.

with Ronan Price

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