So realistic are the physics that Volition's artists frequently had to take the buildings they had created straight back to the drawing board. "When we first started, the artists didn't quite understand the process and they were putting 20 tons of concrete on top of, like, four little beams and they'd put it in the world and it would fall apart. We had to learn how to make real buildings." It enables all sorts of realistic tricks, like sabotaging a bridge to ambush a heavy convoy, which is where the other element of the game comes in (and the clue's in the title): guerrilla warfare.
The game takes place 50 years after the events depicted in the original Red Faction, in an environment that Cermak compares to the Wild West. The basic premise is that the nefarious Earth Defense Force (American spelling having taken over the world) is taking control of prices and minerals. You and your buddies are trying to get rid of them by making it expensive for them to stay on Mars, by destroying their possessions and interfering with their logistics. Which you do by using low-tech equipment and weaponry to sabotage and subvert before slinking back into the safety of the civilian population. "This is really about guerrilla warfare," states Cermak. "It's the key, it's the glue that ties together destruction and openworld environments."
To that end, the game world is full of ambient events that you can react to any way you like: apart from the key story missions, there are no "triggered missions". Instead, says Cermak, "There might be a raid over here, there might be hostages taken over there, a convoy coming through. You can just ignore all that and do what you want. You don't have to do any of it, but if you want to get involved, as a guerrilla you can go get involved."
If you do get involved, your persistent aim is to lower EDF morale by killing their people and destroying their structures, in order to take over sectors of the world. "And it is a world," says Cermak. "It's not a city." Indeed it's three to four times the size of the city in Saint's Row 2, and as you take over it, piece by piece, you'll receive assistance from other miners depending on the state of their morale, and key objectives will be highlighted for you (though you can, of course, take them out whenever you like). There's multiplayer too, in which all this destruction changes the world every time you play (requiring would-be campers to be a bit cleverer), and specific modes revolve entirely around this destruction aspect.
So it's all impressive stuff. Except, it's hard to shake off the feeling that, ten minutes after playing it, everyone will just take these new levels of realism for granted, and wonder why it hasn't been done before. Which probably says more about gamers than Volition's new game. Still, fingers crossed that they get the game design as right as they so clearly and spectacularly have with all the destruction.