Red Faction: Guerrilla Game Poster Image

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Sci-fi shooter tackles tricky topic in terrorism.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game tackles the timely and difficult subject of war-time insurgency. Players take on the role of a construction demolitions expert who ends up becoming a rebel when Mars’ occupational force kills his brother and arbitrarily brands him a terrorist. As a resistance fighter he bombs government installations and kills hundreds of soldiers. However, he does none of this lightly; he feels his actions are warranted because they are in the name of freedom and justice.

Positive role models

While the protagonist is portrayed as an honorable family man pushed to the brink by circumstances beyond his control, he is a terrorist. He's a man fighting an unjust, corrupt government and resorts to violence only because he feels it's vital to secure life and liberty. He's not ignorant of the consequences it carries.

Ease of play

The controls are straight forward and intuitive, but the combat can be unforgiving—especially for those who prefer a head-on fight to tactical confrontations.


Primary weapons at the player’s disposal include rifles, handguns, demolition charges, and a sledgehammer. The violence isn’t particularly gory or brutal -- objectives involve the destruction of infrastructure more often than the killing of enemy personnel -- but it is constant. Wounded characters leave small splotches of blood on the ground. Players can kill civilians, but they generally have to go out of their way to do so, and there are strong incentives not to harm innocents (citizen morale drops, making it more difficult to achieve long-term goals).

Not applicable

Profanity is frequent but not shocking. Words like “piss” and “bastard” come up regularly in voice conversation, while stronger language is used more sparingly.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters can occasionally be seen smoking cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this third-person action game tackles the difficult subject of wartime insurgency and terrorism. Players take on the role of a reluctant freedom fighter who uses his expertise in demolitions to help defeat a corrupt, militaristic occupational force. The violence, while more or less constant, is often directed at buildings rather than people, and players are encouraged to avoid hurting civilians whenever possible. When they do get into direct combat players use a variety of ballistic and melee weapons. Blood can be seen, but only in small splotches. Parents should also be aware that this game features a moderate amount of coarse language in its voice dialogue. Online modes facilitate open voice communication.

What's it about?

Part Total Recall part Far Cry 2, RED FACTION: GUERILLA is an open-world sci-fi shooter set on Mars with a lead character best described as a resistance fighter. The governing powers are sending death squads out on the streets and crushing anyone who resists their authoritarian rule, including our hero’s brother. This forces our otherwise peaceful protagonist, a demolitions expert by trade, to hook up with the Red Faction, a resistance group intent on forcibly removing the Earth Defense Force -- Mars’ current rulers -- by destroying key installations and helping citizens whenever they come under attack. Players freely explore six separate sectors of the Red Planet, choosing missions as they like with an aim to raise the morale of civilians and eventually get them to help fight for their freedom.

Is it any good?


There’s plenty to like about Red Faction: Guerilla, not least of which is the intelligent way in which it handles the always touchy topic of terrorism. Our hero is a hesitant insurgent who only takes action against the EDF once his brother is killed and he looks to be next. And while the conflict in the game’s story is black and white, painting one side as purely malicious and the other as noble and good, it’s not unrealistic to think that stepping into the shoes of a virtual terrorist could make players think about insurgents in real-world wars and consider their potential motives.

Beyond politics and philosophy, the game is quite a bit of fun to play. Virtually everything in the world can be destroyed in satisfying fashion by smashing into it with vehicles, blowing it up with explosives, or simply pounding it with our hero’s trusty sledgehammer. Alas, all of the over-the-top destruction can and does grow a bit repetitive after a while. Still, it's recommended for older players looking for a bit of narrative substance.

Online interaction: Several online modes facilitate competitive action for up to 16 players. The game supports open voice communication with all players, which carries with it the potential for personal information to be exchanged and distasteful language to be overheard. Common Sense Media does not recommend this sort of online play for pre-teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences between terrorism, insurgency, resistance fighting, and freedom fighting. Is it merely a matter of semantics? Many of the game’s characters are labeled terrorists by the military. Do you believe that’s what they are? Is bombing a building, regardless of perpetrator’s motive, automatically an act of terrorism? Do you think this is a topic that can be adequately addressed within the context of a video game?

  • Did playing this game changed the way you look at the world? At terrorism?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
Available online?Available online
Release date:June 3, 2009
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence

This review of Red Faction: Guerrilla was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 12 and 14 year old Written byKevin Quire November 27, 2009

for older teens

This game is not violent at all. Basically you just walk around crushing broken parts and shooting martians. The only problem is the language. My fourteen year old loves this game and I allow my twelve year old to play it occasionally.
Parent Written byChojun January 2, 2012

Caution for younger players

This is a great game. The official review didn't touch enough on the language. It is not over-the-top, as it occurs as it naturally would during very tense situations (civilians cursing when shootouts occur in their area, etc.). However, the bad guys in this game have very strong language directed at the player (f-word, including m*****f*****). The violence isn't too bad, since as the review indicates, the vast majority of it is directed at buildings/infrastructure/etc. However, the player is rewarded for violence against people (bad-guys via kill-streaks) and at least one misson requires the capture of a bad-guy so that he can be tortured for information by a different in-game character. The sense of danger is lessened and desensitized by the fact that when the player is killed, he respawns at a base camp and the player suffers only a very minor penalty. The good-guys and bad-guys are very clear cut and the bad guys are REALLY bad (whereas the good-guys have noble intentions). Younger players will get an idea of what it means to fight for one's freedom and liberties and will get to experience the effects of propaganda.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 12 year old Written bypanckaes223 March 7, 2010
My second favorite game quite violent
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing