A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.