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The destruction-centric gameplay of Red Faction Guerrilla makes a return in this new expansion pack that delivers a curious prequel to the main game. Whilst I enjoyed swinging my sledgehammer to level new buildings or using new weapons to cause more chaos, the lack of depth in Samanya's backstory was a dissapointment.
Right from the start I'll admit that I never initially played Red Faction Guerilla for its story and atmosphere. It was only after several hours of play that I realised its game world was more cohesive and effective at delivering an experience than other open world games like InFamous or Prototype. It was this approach that drew me so much into the original game and, for the most part, Demons of the Badlands succeeds in just the same way that Guerrilla did.
Taking place before the arrival of Guerilla's main character, Alex Mason, I was really happy to take charge of Samanya - the excessively British-sounding resistance fighter. Here the game took me back to when she was one of the Marauders, leading small attacks on the EDF and generally holding back the bloodlust of her sister Vasha. Almost immediately I felt the campaign had lost a tremendous opportunity to explain the Marauders in a far more interesting way. During the opening cut-scene, Samanya narrates the backstory to how the maligned scientists of Mars were forced out into the Badlands and made their change into more feral, aggressive humans, hell-bent on reclaiming Mars from the authorities.I felt this could've been the more interesting story - following the fall of this group of humans as they tried to establish the colony on Mars, rather than just dismiss it with a few spoken lines of dialogue.
The appearance of one of Guerilla's early characters was also a good touch, but it only made me wish for a deeper experience than this expansion could offer.
Nevertheless the game made an impressive start with my rescue of Vasha from the EDF, leading ultimately to a giant battle full of destruction and explosions like only Red Faction knows how to do. The rest of the short, 3-mission campaign wasn't lacking in interesting environments or combat situations, and it had a few nice moments when scaling a particularly precarious cliff using some rickety old scaffolding. The appearance of one of Guerilla's early characters was also a good touch, but it only made me wish for a deeper experience than this expansion could offer and, as a result, the whole 'Samanya gets pulled into fighting for Red Faction' part felt a little forced and sudden.
But criticising Red Faction for some of its story elements in this new downloadable content feels a little petty. After all, the main draw and user base of the game merely wants more destruction, new weapons and new vehicles - which Demon's of the Badlands delivers with aplomb. I got a lot of satisfaction playing a variety of new missions and messing about in the large new area, but I could never shake that hollow feeling after the campaign ended. Fortunately, the utter mayhem and madness from swinging a sledgehammer remains thoroughly entertaining and that will tide me over nicely until next time.
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