Review: Red Faction: Guerrilla – Demons of the Badlands

RFG-DemonsOfTheBadlands.jpg

Developers, I hope you are taking notes on how Volition is handling the downloadable content model for Red Faction: Guerrilla (and Saints Row 2 before it). And if you aren’t, what the hell is your problem!?

Volition’s new Demons of the Badlands single-player add-on to RFG is everything good DLC is supposed to be, not the nickel-and-dime crap that gives DLC a bad name. You know, stuff like pointless costumes/skins and, worst of all, basic game modes that should’ve been included to begin with but are seemingly held back just to make an extra buck – sometimes content is already on the retail disc and you just pay for a code to unlock it. That is shady practice!

But that’s not how Volition rolls. With Demons of the Badlands, you are getting a substantial augmentation to the already-superb RFG experience (you can read my review of the full game here). The add-on is a mini-prequel to the main RFG campaign with you taking on the role of Samanya during her Marauder days a few years prior to Alec’s arrival on Mars.

The expansion takes place in Mariner Valley, the home region of the Marauders which is currently under attack by the EDF. Mariner Valley is a treacherous region of tight roadways carved deep inside a rugged canyon with towering cliffs walling you in on all sides and rudimentary Marauder architecture organically built into the mountainous landscape. While independent from the Mars landscape you get to explore in the main campaign, Mariner Valley is every bit as expansive as the six original sectors, and it’s stuffed with hours of new gameplay.

Demons of the Badlands has you liberating Mariner Valley in three prequel story missions chronicling the events that led to Samanya’s departure from the Marauders, and interestingly enough I found the story more compelling than that of the base game. The missions themselves are standard RFG fare, though, so don’t expect any big surprises. Equipped with both new and returning weapons and vehicles, you explore the terrain and blow the bejesus out of every EDF installation you come across.

11 new side missions are spread throughout the valley as well, including more transporter, base defense, demolition master, raid and house arrest challenges, and there are also more hidden collectibles to find (power cells and war totems) and 10 extra trophies/achievements to strive for. Altogether, I’ve squeezed around four to five additional gameplay hours out of RFG with this DLC so far, and I still have 20 power cells to track down and pro times to beat on the side missions.

What’s also great about Demons of the Badlands is how Volition tweaked the system of acquiring and upgrading weapons. In the main game you have to collect salvage by completing missions and destroying buildings and use it as a currency to buy the weapons and upgrades of your choice. But in this type of add-on you don’t have the same amount of time to build up salvage, so it was smartly removed in favor of a more streamlined reward system in which you unlock weapons and upgrades when you complete missions. Gaining upgrades in this manner is instantly gratifying, and frankly, I think I may like it better than the original salvage system.

The only thing I have to complain about with Demons of the Badlands is its slight lack in polish compared to the full game – I was hit with a nasty glitch in which a quest NPC kept disappearing from the map preventing me from accepting a mission, and to me the frame rate didn’t seem quite as stable.

But these are minor quibbles, really. Demons of the Badlands is a benchmark-setting piece of DLC, and if you already own Red Faction: Guerrilla your $10 will be well spent on this expansion.

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Compelling prequel story; Samanya is a cool character
+ Mariner Valley is packed with new challenges and collectibles
+ Tweaked upgrade system is more rewarding
+ Lots of content for only $10 — this is what DLC is supposed to be!

Cons:
– A bit unpolished

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also on Xbox 360
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Volition
Release Date: 8/13/09
Genre: Third-person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1



About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!