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DID YOU READ

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1 (photo)

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Truth in title, dear readers: A Level A Day will be my attempt to give my thumbs more exercise every 24 hours. ALAD will be part diary, part analysis and a smidgen of random observation on games that either slipped through the cracks or might deserve reconsideration. I won’t promise to finish every game but I’ll try to track what I think of as honestly as I can, so you’ll at least know why I’m stopping a particular game.

Tuesday, December 5, 2010: “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1

At the end of the tutorial level, Dan–the brother of lead character Alec Mason–dies and I get arrested by the Mars Gestapo. The cutscene that opens the level shows Dan’s house seized and a confrontation with the EDF. The thugs have Alec’s mining license revoked, which leads to a physical altercation. Alec gets knocked onto the ground and it looks like he’s going to get shot in cold blood. Suddenly, shots ring out and EDF soldiers start dropping. The girl, whose name is Samanya, and older man who visited Dan come out of cover and bring Dan to the Red Faction safehouse. Once there, the following exchange happens:

Alec: “But, I’m not Red Faction.”
Samanya: “Like it or not, Mason, you are now.”

Going through the Guerrilla Handbook I get handed by Samanya, it’s pretty clear that “RFG” is a proletariat simulator. It’s early yet, so I don’t know whether the game’s trope appropriation is inspired or appalling. This is where the game starts in earnest.

This is where you get your gun.

The upgrade systems, world navigation and mission organization all get explained at the safehouse. “Red Faction: Guerrilla” follows the same open-world template as games like “Grand Theft Auto,” meaning that I can wander around and pick which missions I want to do on my own. The ambient chatter from all the characters voices either ferocity or despair about the current situation with the EDF occupying Mars. Once I’ve soaked up enough ambiance, I decide to pick a mission and go destroy some buildings.

“Better Red than Dead”
The mission starts with a briefing from a commander tasking Mason to destroy the Red Faction’s old base so the EF can’t pick up any info to use against them. As I start to drive the location, he tells the grim tale of slaughter and exploitation that happen in the EDF’s land grabs. Of course, the EDF show up once I’m at the base and a shootout ensues. I don’t love the aiming and shooting at this point and the controls really feel like Voliton was trying to accommodate two different kinds of gameplay ideas: shooting and demolition.

I die a bunch trying to figure out a rhythm of engagement. Each action game has its own different style and getting acclimated to their mechanics is like learning to speak a new language. There’s no cover system in “Red Faction: Guerrilla” which means gunplay will involve lots of bobbing and weaving. I finally take out the squad sent to kill me and complete the destruction of the former RF base.

“Red Faction: Guerrilla” reminds me of “Angry Birds.” It’s a weird comparison, I know, with mega-lucrative casual game and modestly successful hardcore title at either end. And I’m playing them in reverse chronological order. But, both titles ask you to apply force to structures to topple them. The best part of each is when the toppling continues after you expect it to stop and debris continues to rain down. And each game tells you that you’re breaking stuff for the right reasons, to take down paramilitary oppression and/or rampant greed. “Better Red than Dead” ends with some banter and it already feels like the righteous impetus of Dan’s death is fading. It also feels like the game’s going to be huge at this stretch and I’ll have to try to gobble up missions as quickly as I can.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…