The Average Gamer

Hands-On Preview – Red Faction: Armageddon

RedFactionArmageddon_PCPackShotEarlier on this week, I got to spend time with Volition’s latest instalment in the Red Faction series – Red Faction: Armageddon. The first Red Faction game was released way back in 2001 for the PlayStation 2. Powered by the GeoMod engine, the main selling point of the game was the ability to destroy almost anything you could see. This proved to be a lot of fun. Red Faction 2 quickly followed in 2002 and then there was a break for 7 years as Volition got distracted developing Saints Row 1 and 2. Red Faction: Guerilla reared its head in 2009 boasting version 2.0 of the GeoMod game engine allowing the player to cause even more mayhem and destruction within the brand new free-roaming environment.

This brings us on to Red Faction: Armageddon and the first outing for version 2.5 of the GeoMod engine. This should mean that I will be able to destroy almost everything within the game :-) I’m going to start off by talking about the single-player campaign (I got to play one of the levels at the start of the game) and then the ruin mode.

Single-player campaign:

The game starts off with your character – Darius Mason – being blamed for the sudden infestation of the Mars colony by aliens. Being public enemy number one means that everyone wants to kill you, including the aliens. Bunch of arse. Time to run away. So the first thing I did when I got hold of my magnet gun was to destroy the entire bridge that constituted my exit route. Hmmm, maybe that wasn’t the best course of action! The magnet gun allows you to pull 2 objects together by shooting a dart like object into each of them and then watch as they fly towards one another. By objects, I mean, almost anything you can see – animals, minerals or space vegetables/aliens. A bit like this:

Fortunately for me, Darius had a trick up his sleeve in the form of a tool called the Nano-Forge. By tapping LB on the joypad Darius fires out a blob of energy from this tool which reverses all the destruction within a certain area. This allowed me to get to work and rebuild the knackered bridge so I could finally escape. It is quite a cool effect seeing whole buildings reforming before your very eyes. However, if you’ve blasted massive areas to bits then it’s going to take a few blobs of Nano energy to repair it all and this can take some time. I had massive amounts of fun destroying buildings, crumpling aliens with bits of buildings, sticking aliens to walls and then splatting them with a huge chunks of scenery. There are so many fun ways to kill and destroy things using the magnet gun. It’s brilliant.

Unlike Red Faction: Guerilla the levels are very linear, which does limit the amount of exploring on offer. But it does give the developers a tighter control over the flow of the game (i.e. less boring bits). I found the level I played entertaining from start to finish with more than enough action throughout its entirety.

RedFactionArmageddon_PewPewPewThere is a real smorgasbord of weapons available in game in order to inflict as much damage as possible to everything. I got to try out out the magnet gun, shotgun, assault rifle, charge luncher, pistols, pulse grenade and the maul (a big sledge hammer). You really need all these weapons as there are bloody loads of aliens swarming all over the levels. Red Faction: Armageddon’s aliens appear from nests dotted throughout the levels. Unless you blow up the nests the aliens will just keep coming. This can get a bit frustrating and overwhelming, especially when there are multiple nests spewing out aliens from all angles. A simple but effective tactic – shoot the nests first.

Other nice touches in the game are the skippable cut sequences (an essential feature in my opinion) and the locator tool which shows you the way to the next checkpoint. It works in a similar way to the locator feature in Dead Space 2. This feature is quite useful when you’ve destroyed almost every notable feature on the landscape (or blocked the exit with what was the ceiling) and don’t have a clue where to go.

If the magnet gun wasn’t destructive enough for you, Darius can climb into a LEO exo suit and cause havoc like a Power Ranger on acid. Blessed with unlimited bullets and rockets, although you have to wait for the rockets to recharge before use, the screen soon fills up with a orgy of explosions as you stomp around in the suit. You can also use the devastating shoulder charge to take out any aliens or annoying buildings that may be in your way. You have to be careful though, I managed to shoulder charge myself off the side of a cliff to my death. Ooops.

Waiting for me at the end of this particular level was a very big and angry Behemoth. I spent a while crashing most of the surrounding structures into him (using the ever awesome magnet gun) before finally finishing him off with my trusty assault rifle. This provided a nice change to the usual method of killing bosses by unloading a trillion bullets into them. It was seriously satisfying to drop half the ceiling right on top of him too. Hehe.

Ruin Mode:

Remember how much fun the crash mode was in Burnout 3 and Burnout Revenge? Yes? Well, you’re just going to love ruin mode then. Objective: destroy as much as possible to earn points. That’s it :-) Whilst you can just blast the crap out of everything to stack up the points you can be a little more tactical if you wish. By shooting the red barrels that are dotted around the maps you can take out buildings a lot quicker. The are also time bonuses hidden amongst some of the buildings. These soon become critical to getting a really big score as you only have 60 seconds to start off with. This video shows the map I played being destroyed:

Playing ruin mode brought back many, many happy memories of playing Burnout’s crash mode with my friends. I can’t wait to play this with a group of people and see who can get the highest score. Seeing as Criterion Games have lost all interest in producing another Burnout game (crash mode wasn’t even included in Burnout Paradise), ruin mode looks set to satisfy any crash mode cravings.

Red Faction: Armageddon is due for release on the 3rd June 2011 on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.