Red Faction: Guerrilla 5 Years-Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - May 13, 2014
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When a new game is released, it is not uncommon to find major graphical issues in it. As patches and new drivers come out, typically these issues will be fixed for newer games. For older games though, if an issue appears long enough after release, as the result of new drivers, for example, the likelihood of it being fixed drops significantly. That has happened to Red Faction: Guerrilla, and that forced me to make an awkward decision.
For the purpose of writing a review, I will always try to play a game at best settings, so screenshots, videos, and my own impressions of the graphics are of the game at its finest. At those settings however, Red Faction: Guerrilla has issues with buildings, cars, and characters (including yourself) blinking in and out of existence. Also light sources, including the Sun, will shine through objects, blinding you at potentially inopportune moments.
From what I have found prior to playing the game, there is a fix we users can employ, and it is to run the game in DirectX 9 mode instead of using DirectX 10. Unfortunately certain graphical options are only available under DX10. This forced me to decide between playing the game so that I can see everything, or playing the game so it looks its best. I decided upon the latter, so the included screenshots and videos are showing Red Faction: Guerrilla at its finest, though they may also show off the issue. My reasoning behind this decision is that not everyone who plays the game may experience this issue and that it would not be fair to the game to compromise its appearance in the media.
(DX9 screenshot on the left. DX10 Screenshot on the right.)
Of course when I continued researching the problem after the review playthrough (and after I wrote the previous paragraph) I found another solution that does not require playing without DirectX 10. By uninstalling Windows Update KB2670838, the flickering and lighting issues I described can be fixed. This update is apparently linked to installing Internet Explorer 10 and 11, so if you use a different browser, it should be safe for you to uninstall. I tested it, and it does appear to fix the problems. (Why can I not find this stuff before I start a review playthrough?)
With all of that covered, we can get to how the graphics actually look. Even for a five-year-old game, the graphics look okay. Running around Mars, there are really only two things that will jump out as not looking very good, and they are the ground textures at short distances and vegetation.
If you try running up a mountain, or for some other reason have the camera near the ground, you will see how low resolution those textures are. To be fair, the scale of the world should impose a limit on our expectations, but that does not prevent us from seeing it. The vegetation is similar as really, there is no vegetation. Driving or walking around the map will reveal a very barren environment, almost devoid of vegetation and other objects. Outside of cities and settlements, it is not common to see much of anything. Granted, this is set on a recently terraformed Mars, but there really is not that much out there but the occasional boulder and skeleton of a destroyed vehicle. This probably will not jump out to you much, but it is the case. This can probably be chalked up to the size of the world and what was technologically possible at the time.
One thing you will see in a number of places is dust. Depending on the area you are in, you can look up and see dust being blown by the wind everywhere. It gives a good explanation for why there are no convertibles in the game.
The destructible structures fortunately do look quite nice, save for the resolution issue I just mentioned on the broken edges of the debris. Ram something with a vehicle, explode it with a charge or rocket, or just hit it with your sledgehammer and it will crack and crumble in a most satisfying way. Of course it does leave you wondering about the building code on Mars, but this game is not about regulations. There is one thing about destroying structures that is kind of weird, though. Mass can be lost between the original building and the rubble left behind. This is most evident when you cause something to collapse, as much of it can just vanish into the ground.
Considering how many explosions you can cause in Red Faction: Guerrilla, it is a good thing that they actually look quite nice. Sparks are thrown far and wide, with plumes of fire behind them. Explosions do differ, based on what is blowing up. Sometimes burning debris is launched far into the air for a cinematic appearance. Eventually you can also unlock a special rocket that creates a massive ball of fire, obscuring the destruction it causes, until the debris comes crashing down.
At one point you will unlock a nano-rifle, which fires shots that dissolve just about everything, including walls and people. Vehicles generally take a few shots from this, but will eventually disappear into nothing. The dissolving effect is entertaining to watch, as it really does look like numerous, glowing nano-machines are eating away at something.
There is really only one fluid to speak of in Red Faction: Guerrilla and that is fire. Typically when you find it, it is a piece of debris being consumed, and not a larger conflagration. Though it may be small, the fire is pretty good, with the flame burning bright at its base, and dispersing out in wisps. Around the base there is also some optical distortion, which adds to its liveliness.
Time to get to the performance, so here are my computer specs:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
- PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
I was able to run the game at its max settings under DirectX 10, except for motion blur, which I turn off as a personal choice, and never saw it stutter or drop below 60 frames per second. Even with large amounts of debris everywhere, it still ran without a hitch.
Aside from the issues I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there were no bugs to speak off, so we can get straight to the section conclusion.
At five years old, Red Faction: Guerrilla is showing its age, largely with the low resolution of the ground textures and a general lack of population throughout the world. The former can be pretty easy to notice, but the latter may go unnoticed by many players. Both of these can be easily forgiven as you will want to spend most of your time in the well-populated areas, as that is where you have things to explode and destroy. No matter how you demolish something, it will be quite satisfying and have you hunting for the next target.
(Taken from a video, which is why it may look blurrier than the others.)