by Joseph Barron
previewed on PS3
Life On Mars
The Red Faction series has made constant attempts to reinvent itself since its debut in 2001. It has been a gritty sci-fi FPS set on Mars, a story of rebellion set on Earth and it recently returned to Mars as a third person, open-world adventure. As the last title in the series delved into the open-world genre with great success, Armageddon aims to take this blueprint and build upon it to deliver an even better experience.
Expect a slight change of scenery though, as most of the action takes place underground on Mars after the surface of the planet undergoes huge changes, making it inhabitable to humans. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of the series the main threat to the Red Faction rebels comes from aliens, rather than an exploitative human corporation.
Destruction On A Planetary Scale
As with Red Faction: Guerrilla, the key to the gameplay in this new title is the character's ability to destroy buildings and use the surrounding Martian environment against their enemies. There are plenty of new tools to help you lay waste to the world including the extraordinary ‘Magnet Gun’. This insane weapon allows you to shoot two different objects in the world and then watch them fly towards each other at great speed. The combinations of "magnetized" objects sounds like it could be endless. On a basic level this could involve making explosive barrels and aliens fly towards one another, but once the game is released players will undoubtedly come up with some ridiculous combinations to dominate their alien foe and consequently wreck the landscape. It has even been suggested that firing at a building and then an enemy will rip pieces of the building from its foundations and hurl them at your adversaries.
The Nano-Forge weapon from Guerrilla also returns, though Volition have described it as a tool for repairing objects this time, rather than a tool of destruction. Possible applications of the weapon shown so far include using rubble to construct cover during firefights, or repairing machinery needed for mission-specific goals. The most exciting addition to the Red Faction arsenal is the EXO suit, which gives you incredible strength and speed; practically turning the protagonist into the equivalent of Superman. While wearing the suit you can sprint into crowds of aliens to disintegrate them on contact, or destroy entire buildings simply by running straight through any walls that might be integral to the structure.
Scratching The Surface
Although the story mostly involves the new Martian society that the Red Faction has created underground and their struggle against the aliens, you will still get to see plenty of the post-apocalyptic surface of Mars. Above ground you will have to contend with a much greater alien presence than underground as well as some monumental disruptions to the planet's weather, such as massive super-tornadoes and lightning storms.
Gameplay on the planet's surface will also resemble the style of progression found in Guerrilla. In that previous title you were tasked with liberating settlements from the Earth Defense Force. In Armageddon you have to remove aliens from important "cultist" locations and rescue humans who have been captured and cocooned. It would be nice to see some more variation here from the structure of the previous game, though hopefully that will be provided by the sections that take place in the underground setting. Those players who do want to explore the ruined surface of the planet though, have been promised that they will be encouraged to and rewarded by doing so. The biggest of these rewards is the discovery of ancient alien artifacts that can be used to construct even more powerful weapons!
Survival Of The Species
The online multiplayer in Red Faction: Armageddon hopes to build on the rather surprising success of the multiplayer content in Guerrilla. The biggest addition to the online portion is ‘Extermination’ which can be loosely described as Red Faction's version of ‘Horde’ from Gears of War 2, or ‘Firefight’ from Halo 3: ODST and more recently Halo: Reach. In this mode, four players will fight for survival against infinite waves of alien enemies. It's not a very original addition particularly, but there will surely be extra twists and more modes to be revealed before Armageddon is released.
So far, Red Faction: Armageddon looks like it is going to offer some fresh new twists to the destructive open-world formula established in the previous game in the series. Expect to explore even more of the Martian world and then probably blow it all up again when Red Faction: Armageddon is released in May of this year.