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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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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…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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