clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Red Faction: Guerrilla’s remaster is a big deal

This one deserves a second chance in the spotlight

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered Edition - Alec Mason standing as a tower explodes and collapses behind him
A Martian base explodes in Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered.
Volition, Kaiko/THQ Nordic
Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is one of the best games of the past decade; unfortunately, most people still haven’t played it. Hopefully, that’s about to change. Today, THQ Nordic revealed Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered, a remaster for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.

(Yes, the name is real. Yes, it’s tacky. No, I don’t think we can convince them to change it.)

The original Red Faction: Guerrilla was released on PlayStation 3, Windows PC and Xbox 360 a year after Grand Theft Auto 4, and by comparison, its muddy visuals and bare-bones open world appeared outdated. As a result, Guerrilla received slightly above-average reviews, most of which criticized the game’s B-movie plot and barren landscape.

Nonetheless, it became a cult classic. Sure, the world was visually bland, but it was also fully destructible. And while the dialogue was crude, the plot — which placed the player in the shoes of a guerrilla terrorist — took a transgressive approach in a way its contemporaries hadn’t dared. Like great sci-fi, Guerrilla used its alien setting to explore ideas that would feel uncomfortable and controversial if presented literally.

Guerrilla’s publisher, THQ, fundamentally misunderstood the game’s appeal, and listened too closely to its critics. Where Guerrilla played like fully destructible Grand Theft Auto on Mars, THQ squished its follow-up, Red Faction: Armageddon, into generic and claustrophobic corridors, like a Dead Space knockoff. THQ hoped Armageddon would serve as a launchpad for a larger cross-media initiative. Instead, the project flopped, culminating with a $38.4 million loss.

After THQ filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, the rights to the Red Faction series and other brands were sold to Nordic Games at auction in April 2013. The publisher later acquired the THQ name as well, and renamed itself THQ Nordic in 2016. Since picking up the franchise, THQ Nordic has been quietly updating Red Faction: Guerrilla on Steam, improving performance and fixing its online multiplayer functionality. In hindsight, that work appears to have laid the foundation for this remaster.

The remaster is being done by Kaiko, which most recently handled the remaster of another THQ game for THQ Nordic: Darksiders Warmastered Edition. (Apparently bad remaster puns are THQ Nordic’s thing.) THQ Nordic is currently building off the Darksiders remaster with Darksiders 3, scheduled for release sometime this year. The work on Darksiders suggests an promising roadmap for the Red Faction series. You can check out nine 4K screenshots of Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered below.

THQ Nordic’s commitment to Guerrilla is the apparent recognition of the game’s value. While nothing has been confirmed, the remaster scans like a smart way to relaunch the franchise by building goodwill with long-term fans, creating new ones and gauging a potential audience for the future of the series. And that’s a big deal: A great but underappreciated video game may be lifted from the scraps of history, and given the shot it deserves to rest comfortably alongside its more famous contemporaries.

Yes, the name is just the absolute pits. But they can call Guerrilla whatever they want so long as it means more.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.