Sunday 9 August 2009

Killzone 2

I was going to write something about Killzone 2 this week.

I was going to, but some prick burgled me while I was out running, so now I don't have a PS3 or Killzone 2. Or a phone.

This week's lesson: Killzone 2 will get your stuff nicked.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Red Faction Guerrilla

You know how beige isn’t cool, and hasn’t been for about 30 years? Do you also remember how it’s so uncool that having anything monochrome would have you killed by firing squad should the Fashion Police ever come into force? Why, then, is pretty much every game and film that comes out these days is moody and brown? Hike the brightness up again and you’d swear we’d warped back three decades.

Red Faction Guerrilla is a breath of fresh air as far as gaming goes (meaning the air in your living room is still going to smell of sweat and farts) by taking this fad and sticking a few explosive charges up its arse. Orange is the new brown here. I know it’s set on Mars, but the story is so dull and generic that I can say with a high degree of certainty that they added the “Mars” bit of the story somewhere towards the end of development and thought it was decent justification for painting everything orange.

The story goes thus: it’s the future and someone decided to start mining on Mars, so it’s been terraformed (without any kind of flora or forna) in order for average Joe miner to go down t’pit in a fancy futuristic jacket and headset. Presumably because setting stuff in space with mechs isn’t cool anymore either. No wait, there are ruddy great mechs in Guerrilla too, but only when the game is in a good mood. Funny how a game centred around destruction only occasionally lets you use the biggest destructo-toy conceived outside the nuke in Fallout 3’s Megaton. No wait, not funny. Shit.

If you didn’t already know, the big gimmick in Red Faction Guerrilla is the ability to return every building to its Ikea origins. To do so, you’re given a choice of explosive charges, sledge hammers, rocket launchers, slightly different rocket launchers, the death-ray from 1940’s sci-fi movies and a variety of rugged manly SUVs. The latter being a delightful way to fail hostage rescue missions.

Anyway, the story (which I lost interest in after about 5 minutes) is about a miner whose miner brother has been killed by a French energy provider and it turns out they’re not very nice people, so they’ve been pissing off the other colonists for a bit too. As the new boy it’s your job to lead the revolution even though neither you nor the character can be arsed. So you’ll spend all your time finding buildings to destroy.

Almost immediately after I started playing Guerrilla about half a million people simultaneously asked me if it was worth buying, and I couldn’t answer them. Partly because I’d only been playing it for about 20 minutes, but mostly because I couldn’t decide whether the destruction was fun enough to make up for the crap story. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi stuff (and still need to get around to watching the modern Battlestar Galactica) and sneaky bollocks revolution – even to the extent of being slightly interested in the Maquis in Star Trek. Although that’s probably just because most of their screen time involved the Defiant blowing shit up, but nevermind, I’m not talking about Star Trek here.

After realising the rocket launchers were completely useless, the charges were unpredictable, the hammer was awesome and the death-ray carried about as much ammo as I do, I spent a few hours tearing through any building in sight in an SUV, stopping occasionally to batter it with my hammer. As I did so I kept asking myself the question “would I buy this with my own money?”.

After various private eye/wedding planner ponderance clich├ęs (such as pacing, drinking and curling up in a corner for a bit), I came up with nothing and played Prototype for a bit. At which point, I decided InFamous pulled off the superpower sandbox better than Prototype and I’d rather still be playing Red Faction Guerrilla. I guess that means that Guerrilla has my highly coveted and much respected seal of approval (which I refuse to make a logo for).

But.

I love sandbox games scattered with various creative challenges, and Guerrilla provides well with transport missions and a distinctly memorable game of explosive golf. Bounding across Martian dunes in a space buggy SUV thing is weirdly compelling too. The actual story missions are a load of balls though. The story itself is dull, and the missions are what you’d call hectic if you grew up in a trench during the early 20th century. And they rapidly get more hectic. With no word of a lie, the last mission I attempted had me facing off against at least 5 tanks during a time limit and no chance to restock on ammo. Or health. A few broken control pads later, I gave up, played a few cathartic demolition challenges and realised my time was up with Guerrilla.

My final word is that I recommend Red Faction Guerrilla, and if I can be arsed, I’ll probably buy it myself in order to beat that mission if nothing else. Bollocks to that, my final word is my own word. Ponderance.

(Edit: Apparently "ponderance" means "weight" or "gravity", but I prefer my own meaning derived from "pondering").