Eyes-on / Red Faction Armageddon

It may surprise you, but Mars is not a great place to live right now. It used to be great, but now that the atmosphere’s made the surface inhospitable, you’ve gotta go live in the dingy mines underground. Nuts. To make matters worse, Darius Mason, the grandson of Alec Mason from Red Faction Guerrilla, has accidentally unleashed an evil race of aliens on your home. It’s a bit of a mess, sure, and it’s yours to clean up in Red Faction Armageddon.

We sat down with developer Volition as they played through a bit of the game at Gamescom last week. And while we were only shown a brief section, it was packed with just enough weapons, enemies and powers to leave us wanting more.

Since watching the trailers, we’ve been eager to explore the horror element to Armageddon, and the start of this demo showed just that. Mason is trekking down a tunnel, taking in the sights (and by sights, I mean the mounds of mangled bodies left by the aliens). Volition has nailed the atmosphere here; a creepy corridor, deadly quiet, filled with gore, just what I like. Things don’t stay silent for long though; a vehicle set ablaze comes crashing down the path and suddenly we’re surrounded by creepers; spider-like enemies that do a lovely job of hacking at your heels, chucking us out of the horror back into the Red Faction action we know and love; Mason makes short work of them with a machine gun before continuing onto a bigger environment.

Our hero is here to clear a path for a convoy, but we’re also here to see some of the cool new stuff this game has to offer. You may well have heard of the magnet gun by now; a brilliant little device that tags two targets, and then sends the first crashing into the second. The developers had great fun tearing apart buildings piece by piece by sending other wreckage flying into them, and our minds rushed towards the possibilities of throwing enemies into buildings and vice versa. Destruction is a big focus for Red Faction and we had wondered how it was going to translate to this more closed-off environment. Seeing the magnet gun in action, we’re not left disappointed.

Ravagers (the more common enemy of the game) soon turn up, giving us a chance to see more toys for Mason to play with. While it’s fun to watch the magnet gun throw huge walls into aliens, crushing them and sending them flying, it’s not the only thing Armageddon has to offer. Mason has a set of special abilities he can use on the enemy, and we get to see one of them in this demo; a vortex that sucks up enemies and throws them around the map. Watching the brainless monsters scramble around in midair then get tossed aside provides great satisfaction, and a few laughs from the audience.

It’s not all on the offensive though; another ability repairs objects, letting Mason take cover in a crate for a while before getting stuck back in. These abilities certainly show Armageddon trying hard to set itself apart from the rest, and color us impressed with some of the original ideas this game has shown on top of the classic destruction.

The demo is rounded off by Mason jumping into the Red Faction LEO, a huge mech suit that fires missiles and basically tears the enemy apart. We’re always a little cautious around mechs, because what they make in firepower, they lose in the ease of use. This suit on the other hand seemed to fit Mason just fine; he seemingly controlled as smoothly as he does on foot.

The demo came to a close as the developers cleaned up the scraps and the convoy proceeded. Given the amount of different weapons and abilities Volition had shown us in such a short space of time, Armageddon really could end up being something great. We’d like to see the horror element brought into the game a little more to truly set it apart, and we’re still not sure if you’re going to get along with the character of Mason, but this is a promising start.

Hopefully we’ll return to Mars to find out more soon.