Red Faction: Armageddon Hands-On Preview

We go underground on the Red Planet in the sequel to 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla.

In Red Faction: Armageddon we are on Mars with a shaven-headed Mason once again: Darius Mason this time, grandson of Alec, hero of 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla. But where Guerrilla had us rove around on the Martian surface, Armageddon takes us underground. Terraforming has failed since the events of the last game, making Mars uninhabitable aboveground, forcing the human population to relocate into deep networks of rocky caverns. And where Guerrilla was open-world, Armageddon is basically linear, though with some larger, open areas suitable for sandbox-style play linked by the game's subterranean roads and corridors.

Life on Mars.

The game's producer, Jim Boone, tells us Armageddon's linearity comes from player feedback. Though fans of the previous game enjoyed the vehicles and free-form destruction, he says, they were less keen on trundling long distances through an open environment. He also tells us that some 20 percent of the third-person action still takes place topside, though we didn't see any sky for the few-hour duration of our hands-on demo, which was taken from early in the game.

As the demo began, the humans were already besieged by huge and vicious insectile beasties. Since these came from deep within the planet Mars and the humans from planet Earth, they are technically the natives. For the purposes of this preview, however, and because they are huge and vicious insectile beasties, we shall call them aliens. Our hero Darius is somehow to blame for the alien uprising--but inadvertently, mind you, and doing his best to make up for it. In the course of the demo, he escorts a convoy through hostile territory, fetches power cells and fixes water pumps for beleaguered civilians, and demolishes all manner of alien-infested structures.

Among the enemies are various brightly coloured red and green creatures, accessorised with organic blades and spikes and ranged bioweapon fire--glowing green globs that explode just after impact. We encountered plenty of ravagers: fast-moving, wall-climbing aliens with bone-bladed arms. Another alien creature, a stealthy variant, is invisible except when attacking but signals its proximity with a blurring effect on Darius' vision. Others are less subtle and less buglike: one creature was a hulking, horned biped, like a Martian minotaur.

We weren't short of hardware to see off the alien hordes, with Armageddon forever dropping new weapons in our path, but chief among them was the tremendously fun magnet gun. With this, the game's signature weapon, you shoot item A (say, the side of a building) and then shoot item B (say, a spiky ravager) to fling the one into the other, as if by magnetic attraction. The quick two-shot operation works a bit like Dead Space's kinesis module, letting you smash large chunks of the level furniture--girders, walkways, shacks, and the like--into your squishable foes, but also letting you launch enemies up and away, by firing at them and then at the distant cavern ceiling.

The magnet gun is also useful for demolition purposes. Alien-infected buildings can be destroyed by "magnetising" the roof and the floor, or one wall and the other, making it crumple up with zero ammo expenditure. Another demolition option is the powerful, no-mess nano-rifle: a gun that simply dissolves objects and enemies, with none of the gooey splatter of swatting an alien with a corrugated iron shack.

The extensive destruction will be familiar to players of Red Faction: Guerrilla. (Once again, terrain can't be deformed, except for the odd rocky crystal structure, though most man-made structures are fair game.) But Armageddon balances the large-scale demolition with the addition of a repair ability. Darius is equipped with a nano-forge, which is a kind of multi-tool with a number of unlockable and upgradeable abilities, such as shockwave, which freezes and levitates foes close to you; berserk, a double-damage buff; shield; and repair. This last ability is the inverse of the nano-rifle's disintegrating ray. Like an all-powerful undo button, the repair ability conjures anything you've annihilated back into being; you can rebuild walls around you when you're short on cover or reform a stairway while you climb it. Watching buildings rematerialise in a shimmery nano-glow is an unexpected treat.

For remote rather than up-close repairs, Darius has repair grenades, which can be tossed at distant ruined targets to remake them. These are also found in Infestation mode, the game's Horde-style multiplayer mode, in which four players fend of waves of aliens. In Infestation mode, the repair grenades are especially useful for salvaging cover out of the destruction wrought by four magnet guns.

This will take a lot of repair grenades to clear up.

For anyone who played Guerrilla and did enjoy the open-world roaming, there's no escaping the linearity of Armageddon. There was even a disheartening bit of backtracking through tunnels in the stretch we played. The largest caverns, though, do provide arenas for sandbox-style play. Hopefully, as vehicles are introduced--we saw little of these in our hands-on--the arenas grow too, with more room to manoeuvre and more sandbox opportunities to exploit. Fingers crossed also that the jittery frame rate on screens crowded by extravagant use of the magnet gun turns out to be a rarity.

Otherwise, Armageddon promises a fun third-person action game with enough novelty to make it interesting. A rugged protagonist against aliens on Mars is hardly fresh new territory--even discounting Red Faction titles--but Red Faction: Armageddon has an edge in its powerful magnet gun, free-form destruction, and magical repair tool. Look out for it this summer.

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Discussion

52 comments
archonoid
archonoid

this game is amazing.. got lots of improvements and the action.. damn the action element is amazing in this game.. i havent seen anything like this before..

nimd4
nimd4

aspeckman you @55 kisser, taking a HUGE step back after Guerilla is a major #fail

aspeckman
aspeckman

I liked the turn it took with being an open world game like GTA series. They did a great job. But, RF is originally a linear game, those are the roots. Its breif departer to open world gameplay was a gift and a successful game. I'm excited to see what the developers learned from these 3 experiences and looking forward to playing the 4th encarnation of Red Faction using their incredible creative talents.

DarkSoulSlayer8
DarkSoulSlayer8

God F****** D*** I am so excited fo this game!!!!!!!!!!!

Rustysmitty
Rustysmitty

I played and really enjoyed the demo. Being a father of 2 little kids I don't have the time to play through an open world game (it would just take too long) so I appreciate the linear nature. Plus I get too distracted with open world games and I never finish them. I keep doing other stuff in the worlds. The weapons were great too.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

"For anyone who played Guerrilla and did enjoy the open-world roaming, there's no escaping the linearity of Armageddon. There was even a disheartening bit of backtracking through tunnels in the stretch we played." One of the best elements of 'Geurilla' for me was the ability to simply explore and get myself into the biggest battles possible tottally on the fly. Count me out of this one.

brain56
brain56

I love you, Jane Douglas. I really do.

tsquared44
tsquared44

i don't like these blow em up games. No gratitude in it for me. I like the life on mars thing though. The atmosphere and the post reviews on release of the game will make me decide to buy or not

maic
maic

when red faction first came out, it was a game changer, and altough this one is not, it still looks like a lot of fun :)

icebox98
icebox98

AWESOME!!!! @ pieleanu65: (1) the destruction is better in thisone RF than BF ...............look, the point is its too early to tell wich one will rock more than the other

Pieleanu65
Pieleanu65

NOTHING BETTER THEN BATTLEFIELD!!!!

tevic
tevic

I prefer open-world games. Driving/exploration are a fun diversion to combat.

Devils-DIVISION
Devils-DIVISION

@jsonaut I most emphatically do. I would love to see it revert back to its origins as an FPS.

jsonaut
jsonaut

I liked the first and second, hated the third, so I'll be happy if it goes back a little bit to the earlier games. If I wanted hours of driving, I'd buy a racing game, you know what I mean?

Tremor671
Tremor671

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

xboxgameman
xboxgameman

Repair grenades? Holy sh*t. Mars has changed.

Cillerboy
Cillerboy

theyre a lot different, 3rd person instead of 1st person

HT89488
HT89488

The first Red Fraction game I remember purchasing and was so amazed by it. I wondered how these newer ones are, are they any good compared to Red Fraction 1?

syler4815162342
syler4815162342

Open world would be better, the graphic looks great hope the story be good as graphic

Jackc8
Jackc8

Really disappointed to hear the it's going to be so linear. Personally I loved the open world nature of the last game - it gave you an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and plan which set of tactics would work best to attack the next target. And it made you feel like you were living in an actual world, not just playing a game.

Frostimus
Frostimus

im glad its linear with the same and improved gameplay...we can expect high quality cinematic experiences!

taddia
taddia

oh ccccomeon... it was fantastic as an openworld...

asyland
asyland

Either way, looking forward to this. I'll miss tearing around a huge sandboxed environment, running over EDF (Who were all these players screaming for a linear game? Seems like a lot of people liked the open world). On the other hand, the first R.F. was a linear FPS, and a great game. As long as they bring the weapons and destruction, it should be a good game.

CassadyH
CassadyH

@telekenesis123 you do know that this series started as an mainly underground linear first person shooter about a miner right? Sounds generic i know, but awesome weapons, being able to blow holes in everything and a half-life vibe made it great. Some would say that guerrilla was the drastic departure. I actually really miss the lonely game-play and atmosphere from the first game.

termadoyle
termadoyle

Really glad it's linear again. Guerrilla was a mess.

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

Well, I think won't be better than Guerilla, but it will be a lot of fun anyway with all the cool destruction this series has brought upon us.

KAM10000
KAM10000

this don t look interesting to me but its got nice story. the game is not bad

apolloooo
apolloooo

not sure if i will buy this. i really enjoyed RF:guerilla and it have really good sandbox gameplay. this one will be more linear. maybe i'll read some reviews first

Mitchell_1797
Mitchell_1797

im defininitly buying this game (and why does gamespot au keep going to gamespot asia)

shandyconstant
shandyconstant

wanna try this game....seems like great action/adventure game... ^_^

LaLeDo
LaLeDo

yeah i stopped playing red faction after they ditched the FPS genre. dumb move IMO.

jmc88888
jmc88888

Yeah but how's the multiplayer? What's the changes in that, especially since backpacks were huge in multiplayer? The multiplayer was about as fun as it gets, top notch. It just sucked to find a match after a few months. Don't know if a lack of all the maps hindered that, or connection issues, or people just stopped playing (or all 3), but that multiplayer was fantastic. A few more maps on the disc would have kept more people interested for longer probably. So how is THIS version's multiplayer going to be? It seems like they're trying to copy GoW but on Mars. Let's hope it's multiplayer stays better than imo GoW where 1 shot kills, unless it takes 150 to the head and still YOU die rofl. Hopefully they don't screw up the great multiplayer by trying to copying another game (since single player it appears pre-launch that's what they're copying). For multiplayer....RFG>GoW imo and it wasn't even close. 1 kill rounds? Broken gun mechanics? No thanks. Awesome guns/physics destruction/backpacks trumps that stuff easily. Well just my opinion, and hopefully the multiplayer takes another leap forward and breaks new ground (like the RFG), and not towards GoW and retreads that ground. Hopefully overall RFA keeps its own edge as it was quite good in RFG, and doesn't become GoW on Mars.

Telekenesis123
Telekenesis123

They took out the sandbox? Huge mistake I was wondering if they were going to do that and was a fear of mine, now I see it was realized. Why do developers try to go headlong into genericizing their games? Don't they see that is what made them stand out from the generic in the first place? Companies make tons of games trying to get what they had, now they go and throw it away to try and be like everyone else. Fail. Edit: And not only that hey basically destroyed the old lore as if to make sure they burn all their bridges: "Terraforming has failed since the events of the last game, making Mars uninhabitable aboveground, forcing the human population to relocate into deep networks of rocky caverns." So they make all this stuff completely absent of guerrilla so they can make excuses about the linearity because they are "underground". Then they go and blame their choices on customers becuase some disliked certain aspects of it (and I'm sure there was some there always is) as a 100% scapegoat for themselves. Why not fix those areas rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it's just an excuse.

Jaga_Telesin
Jaga_Telesin

The open world, semi-sandbox style of play was one of the only real enjoyable things Guerilla had going for it. The rest was a mishmash of shallow missions with icons floating over NPC heads. Now that too is gone, to be replaced with a linear story. If they've improved vastly on the rest of the game, it could be good. But removing the sandbox world play was a definite mistake. Taking a feature like that out because a few vocal players didn't have the necessary patience to deal with a large open world is a poor choice.

Suisfonia
Suisfonia

Hearing that the open worldness of the previous game won't be in here kind of hurts my desire for this game, I prefer non-linear play over linear *except when its well done*, but oh well, already preordered the game so I'll play it anyway and will render my judgement afterwhich.

erik2005
erik2005

Hmmm, never played Red Faction but this one looks very good.

lumas16
lumas16

I hope this will be a great sequel to the first one and that the aliens won't spoil the gameplay :)

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

This is one of the few action games I am looking forward too.. I am definitly getting this for PC. Hopefully we get surround support. But either way.

popov89
popov89

I'll just echo what's been said: so long as I can demolish all kinds of things and it blows up real good this game'll be awesome.

mattcake
mattcake

As long as I can still blow **** up I'm happy :)

bluespire1
bluespire1

Looking forward to this one...Guerrilla was fun hopefully this one will be good too.

WiredDreemz
WiredDreemz

The linearity may just work out. The graphics look pretty decent thankfully.

devrindare
devrindare

the most impressing thing coming in this sequel are the WEAPONS. Great man really deifferent in style and use

Pete5506
Pete5506

Sounding good, really want to see more

Devils-DIVISION
Devils-DIVISION

This series needs to go back to being an FPS. It had more appeal back then.

carp93
carp93

My only problem with this so far is that they hopped on that fad of giving the "aliens" glowy bits. Just makes them less stealthy and plain less scary in my opinion. Hard to have suspense when you know you'll see the baddies as soon as they appear 'cause of their big warning lights.

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

It's "Alec" mason, not "Alex." Not that I can really get pissed off about this sort of thing; video game companies need to stop giving all of their characters such idiotic names.

Altaireed
Altaireed

@wwllettsome I don't think we can destruct/demolish things this much in Dead Space or maybe I have missed on something :).