01 August, 2010

Design comments on Red Faction: Guerilla

Some things I've had in my head that I'll kick off this blog with:

Red Faction: Guerilla was a fantastic game that frustrated the heck out of me. The random spawning of enemies (sometimes literally right behind you) necessitates hit-and-run tactics, i.e. don't hold still, because you'll be surrounded and shot down. However, one of the game's main mechanics (and greatest selling point) is destroying physically realistic buildings. Buildings take time to destroy, either methodically chewing through with a sledgehammer or finding and attacking weak points with explosives, and obviously require you to stay more or less in the same place.

For me, there was a constant struggle of trying to destroy buildings (extremely fun) while dealing with soldiers appearing from the ether (at best distracting, at worst pointless and irritating.) I watched my radar and saw red dots appearing around corners, inside buildings, and outside the game's rendered view.

Ultimately, I was armed to the teeth with an arsenal that I felt was mostly wasted on fighting an unending stream of foot soldiers rather than using it to bring down buildings in superbly rendered bouts of physical destruction.

This enemy spawning isn't turned off for all missions, either, so the player must contend with the designed encounter on top of whatever the random spawn algorithm comes up with. The difficulty curve becomes exaggerated at times when the player can't even rely on rote memorization to pass a tough spot because the parameters of the fight keep changing.

The random spawning does add some great tension to the open world. I really did feel like a fugitive, avoiding main roads and driving through most roadblocks rather than fighting. It quickly gets old, though, as enemies appear from impossible places in never-ending waves.

As a designer: the action curve starts going up and quite often never comes back down until the player is killed or artificially reduces it, i.e. interrupts what they are doing and drives back to base.

As a player: can't a guy just kill everyone in the base and then raze it in peace once in a while?

(Next commentary, Mass Effect 2)

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