15 Years Ago, Red Faction Guerilla Perfected Video Game Destruction

A ballistic ballet.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 era of video games was filled with countless titles chasing emerging trends, from the flood of games with massive open worlds to the increasing push for hyper-realistic graphics. Arguably the most fun of the half-dozen trends of the generation, though, were the games all about destruction, where you blow buildings, enemies, and everything in between into little bits. For a long time, Battlefield was the king of destruction mechanics, but in 2009, the Red Faction series exploded back onto the scene with one of the most maniacally fun games ever made, and nothing has topped it since.

The first two Red Faction games were first-person shooters that took place on a terraformed Mars, chronicling the people’s fight to liberate themselves from the iron grip of the Ultor Corporation. When Guerilla released in 2009, it had been seven years since the last entry, and Volition brilliantly redefined the Red Faction franchise as a whole.

The Sledgehammer is your best friend in Guerilla.


This was a much different take on the franchise, adopting a third-person perspective. While destruction had been in the first two games, Guerilla dialed things up to eleven and squarely put the focus on blowing up anything and everything in sight, more than the actual shooting. The other fascinating twist is that the Earth Defense Force, the freedom-fighting good guys of the first two games, are now the main antagonists, transforming into a heartless corporation that subjugates the miners of Mars to drain its resources.

In Guerrilla, you play as Alec Mason, a mining engineer who arrives on Mars and is quickly thrust into the frontlines of the Red Faction’s fight, against his wishes. There’s a fine narrative about fighting the grip of overbearing capitalism, it all pales to that bombastic destruction.

Think of Red Faction Guerilla’s world as one where every single building and physical object is made out of paper mache. You start the game equipped with only a sledgehammer, but even just using that you can break down the foundations of a building and bring it crumbling to dust. Destruction is the bread and butter of Guerilla, giving you brilliantly creative ways to approach any and all enemies.

Any physical object you see is a viable candidate for your explosive prowess.


Maybe you blow into a tower with a car to bring soldiers crashing to the ground or blast open a hole in the wall to catch a group of enemies unaware. There’s also a layer of unpredictability, and it’s genuinely astounding to set off one explosion and see it domino into a dozen that wipes out an entire base.

These destruction mechanics are what keep you invested in Guerilla, as outside of that element it’s a fairly standard open world game, filled with typical zones to capture, bog standard mission design, and unwieldy vehicle controls. It’s amazing, then, that virtually none of that matters whatsoever. Every single one of those flaws is easy to overlook when you’re basically the god of destruction incarnate.

There’s no doubt that the technology behind Red Faction Guerilla must have been extremely demanding, which could, in part, be why we’ve never seen anything like it. The freedom you have in Guerilla is astounding, and the sheer unpredictability of buildings collapsing makes every conflict feel epic. Unfortunately, Volition being shut down in 2023 means it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another Red Faction, but at least we have Guerilla, a fascinating time-capsule of a game that managed to harness gleeful destruction into a mixture so potent, that nothing has come close since.

Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-tered is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Related Tags