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Red Faction: Guerrilla

Best in-game destruction - and they can prove it!

When it comes to proving that its in-game destruction system is the best in the industry, Red Faction: Guerrilla developer Volition isn't messing about.

"This is Mercenaries 2: World in Flames," Volition's Dan Cermak announces across the packed London hotel room, as a video clip appears on screen with a rocket hitting and destroying a large monument.

"What they're doing is taking a model and replacing it with a dead one," the Red Faction man notes. "The building actually drops through the world and another model appears in its place. It works very well and it's a good way to show destruction, but it is basically a slight of hand."

Volition then boots up footage of Battlefield: Bad Company, which EA also boasts has one of the best destructible environments in a shooter.

"This is the same thing," says Cermak, knocking EA's claims down a notch. "What they're doing is on a smaller level; a wall is replaced, a corner of a building is replaced... but it looks good."

Finally Crysis appears on screen, flirting its own system across the room with a truck smashing through a metal jungle hut. "It's just blowing into the parts that made it up - the pieces that were part of the original," Cermak notes.

Here it comes: "Now you can see what we're doing in our game; this is true physics-based destruction," the developer brags, clicking up a montage of flinging concrete and buildings exploding all over the place.

"Every piece has mass; it can be damaged; it can kill you; it can damage other buildings. There's a stress system, a load-bearing system in the world, at all times." It certainly sounds impressive on paper, but the proof really is in how good it looks in-game.

Volition punches up an in-game video clip of a truck hurtling towards a small settlement in the desert. "In most games that's either going to bounce off, or it's going to blow up," notes our demo man, smugly pressing the play button to show that neither happens here.

The truck ploughs right through the wall of the building, knocking individual bricks into the air and rumbling support beams with the weight of the crash. It looks impressive, and incredibly dynamic.

"Here's the Walker that I'm going to show you in a second," Cermak announces, booting in game and running towards a very Aliens-like yellow exoskeleton.

Apart from the endless sea of red sand, Guerrilla isn't instantly reminiscent of the Red Faction games on PS2. For a start it's in third person, a switch the developer says is crucial to both hopping into a new free-roaming sandbox set-up, and a world where you can be killed by a factory chimney falling from 100ft away.

"Unfortunately destruction in a first-person shooter doesn't work that well," the developer notes, strolling through a concrete base in the walker, with bricks and plaster flowing over its yellow arms like water. And to be fair, this wouldn't have looked as cool from a driver's seat angle.

"When we started the artists didn't understand; they created these buildings and when we put them in the game world they just collapsed," Cermak says, noting that it had to create structure using real-world rules of how a structure is built.

"You can walk through buildings; you can destroy anything. There's no stopping you," the developer boldly claims, although noting that plot-central buildings will be rebuilt over time to keep the game from breaking.

As you can imagine, Visually Volition's fancy new system works a treat even if texture quality has to suffer a bit in the process. Oh and the landscape itself isn't destructible.

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