Red Faction: Guerrilla (RFG) is the first current-gen instalment for the popular PS2 shooter series and comes complete with a new protagonist and more environmental destruction than ever before. We spoke to Volition’s James Hague about the return to Mars.When we heard about a new instalment in the Red Faction series, we immediately thought “first person shooter.” Why did you decide to implement a third person view in Guerilla?We tried it both ways. RFG started out in first person, but with debris raining down around you, it was frustrating. You’d get hit by something and not even see it coming. In third person, the situational awareness is much better. Remember, there’s a lot more going on in RFG than in other shooters. Entire buildings can be collapsing around—or on top of—you.What does the Geo-Mod 2.0 engine allow you to do that you couldn’t do in the two prequels? How has the concept of destructible environments evolved?In the earlier Red Factions, destruction was limited to digging holes. Going back and looking at it, it seems so primitive, yet no other game has matched it. For Geo-Mod 2.0 we focused on destruction of buildings in a physically realistic way. Honestly, Red Faction: Guerrilla is the first game to feature real destruction. The term “destruction” has become synonymous with assorted tricks and special effects, and once you experience the real thing that becomes obviously clear. Don’t just look at a screenshot and think “well that’s just like the destruction in game XYZ” because it isn’t.Guerilla takes the series back to its roots by setting the action on Mars. Why did you decide to move away from theEarth-based action of Red Faction 2?Red Faction 1 and 2 each have their own separate storylines, and we wanted to go back to the roots of the series, to find out what became of Mars after the Ultor situation was defused.The game is set 50 years after the events of the original Red Faction. Will the nanotechnology that has since been developed (which was the focus of the second game) play a part in Guerrilla?Ultor is gone, but not forgotten. There’s a strange, tribal group—the Marauders—that either worship Ultor or just like to salvage stuff from the ruins, but either way some of that weird old Ultor-era tech is out there somewhere.In the original game, the Earth Defense Force came to your rescue. How has the EDF changed since then and why is it being targeted by the Red Faction?The EDF’s goal was to keep things running smoothly on Mars, so resources could be mined and sent back to Earth. But like any group with power, they slowly changed from benevolent to exploitive. With no one to watch over the EDF, they can pretty much do whatever they want. People came to Mars for a new start, but it’s no longer a good place to be.
Can you tell us a little about the game’s main character, Alec Mason, and how he becomes drawn into the conflict?Mason came to Mars to work with his brother Dan, to stake a claim and hopefully strike it rich. Dan, though, has been involved in the rebirth of the Red Faction—a guerrilla movement to fight the EDF—and Mason looks guilty just by association. He’s got no choice but to join the fight.Why did you decide to set the game in an open-world environment? How does it affect the gameplay?We tried destruction in a linear shooter (Red Faction 1), and it was good, but fundamentally limited. The goal of RFG is to give the player incredible freedom. You decide when and where to attack the enemy. You can use non-traditional methods—guerrilla tactics—to attack an enemy that’s much stronger than you. If you can imagine it, there’s a good chance you can do it. Forget about how other games artificially prevent you from doing basic things like smashing in a flimsy door or breaking through a wall. In RFG, things like that are basic tools you have to work with. But you can go much further: drive a truck into the roof of a building, blow up a vehicle inside of a garage and take out much of the garage in the process…I’ve been playing this game for years now, and I still see amazing moments that make me fall out of my chair. Moments that were completely unplanned and unscripted.How does the cover system work in Guerilla and what tactical implications does it raise?The EDF has the money, the weapons, and the training, and the Red Faction is just a ragtag group of miners with improvised weapons. Cover is part of being a guerrilla. Don’t attack in the open, don’t expose yourself.
Push up against a wall or any object, tap the cover button, and you snap to cover. Use the stick to slide along and lean out. Just pull away with the stick to leave cover. And of course cover can be destroyed, and that smoothly integrates into the cover system.Early in the game you can get by without using cover, but once you start dealing with higher-level EDF forces, it becomes an important tactic.How do the various versions of the game compare in terms of visuals and performance?They’re essentially identical. We had dedicated programmers optimizing performance for both the PS3 and Xbox 360, pushing each platform to its limits.Can you talk about the multiplayer modes? Will they take advantage of the destructible environments used in the single player game?Multiplayer + destruction is a beautiful thing. The battlefield constantly changes, and by the end of a round you might not even recognize the map. Destruction rejuvenates traditional modes like Capture the Flag and Deathmatch (called Anarchy in RFG), but it really shines with modes designed around it. In Siege, one side is attempting to destroy a base guarded by the other. And the defenders can use a tool called the Reconstructor to rebuild damaged buildings, walls, bridges—anything.