Red Faction: Armageddon Updated Hands-On

We cause some mayhem with all the crazy new weaponry in this updated look at THQ's upcoming third-person shooter.

Maybe it's the goggles or maybe it's the cape, but Darius Mason just doesn't look like a terribly intimidating fellow. Of course, first impressions aren't always reliable, and that's especially true for the hero of Red Faction: Armageddon. The truth is that Mason is a one-man wrecking ball. As one of the last hopes for humanity on Mars, Mason has been tasked with ridding the red planet of everything from crazed cultists to glowing aliens. With a ludicrous arsenal of sci-fi weaponry and a lust for destruction, he seems perfectly capable of fulfilling that obligation. Even with that whole cape-and-goggles thing going on.

If Mason's name sounds familiar, there's a good reason for it. He's the grandson of Red Faction: Guerrilla protagonist Alec Mason, the man who ran around Mars putting an end to the tyrannical regime of the Earth Defense Force. Guerrilla was a hit with critics, but one thing about it didn't sit quite right with developer Volition, and that was all of the long-haul travel you had to do to get from one mission to the next in the game's open-world Martian setting. So for Armageddon, Volition has developed a story that takes you away from the barren surface of Mars and down into the caves below.

Essentially, the team has traded go-anywhere gameplay for a more controlled atmosphere and improved sense of pacing. This is a change that's likely to raise more than a few eyebrows, and with good reason--those sandbox moments in Guerrilla where you could really let your imagination run wild were some of the best parts of the game. Anyone who has ever covered a bridge in satchel charges, waited around for five minutes, and then detonated the thing just as a caravan of EDF trucks drove over ought to know that quite well. But after playing a few missions in Armageddon, most of our thoughts about the changes to the overall game structure were replaced with rampant glee as we destroyed everything in sight with some fantastic new weaponry.

Red Faction: Armageddon isn't so much of a third-person shooter as it is a third-person demolisher, as most of the game's weapons work hand in hand with a robust physics engine to topple down buildings in realistic detail. Our favorite weapon was easily the magnet gun. With this thing, you fire one shot at an object, fire a second shot at a target, and watch as the object flies violently toward the target. You can use it to yank down a giant smokestack onto a smaller building and cause a chain reaction of destruction, but the real fun lies in tormenting enemies.

In one mission, we had to deal with a swarm of Ravagers, who are a race of insectoid aliens with a habit of leaping out of dark corners and holes high above you. So what do you do to take care of these guys? Well, you can fling an explosive barrel at a group of them with the magnet gun; violently pull a distant one right in front and clobber it with a melee attack; or simply taunt them by throwing their dead buddies at them. Maybe we enjoyed this Ravager fight so much because of how tense this part of the game was, what with all of the shadows and faintly illuminated enemies. Being able to toy with them as retribution was a blast.

Another gun we enjoyed using was the plasma beam. Using this is more or less like running a hot knife through butter: it simply cuts a straight line through anything you aim it toward, instantly carving through buildings, walls, or people. What's a good scenario for using this gun? If a group of enemies are shooting from the second floor of a building, then simply slice away the ground floor and bring them toppling down to your level (ideally followed by prompt hammer smashes to the face). There's also the singularity cannon, which fires a terrifying purple pulse that then sucks in everything nearby and finishes off with an even bigger explosion. What is the suggested scenario for using this gun? Anytime you want to make an enemy soil his pants.

This only scratches the surface of the bizarre mayhem we caused using Armageddon's new weaponry. Even with the open-world sandbox a thing of Red Faction's past, the idea of getting creative with your tools of destruction is still very much a central part of Armageddon. But there was one noticeable drawback to the more linear progression through the story; you may not even realize that the critical path through a level often butts heads with your penchant for destruction, as mission-critical ramps, ladders, and platforms often get destroyed. Fortunately, the game gives you an item called the nano-forge to repair fallen structures, but in our experience, we spent a lot more time than we'd prefer simply fixing ladders to get to the next checkpoint. This was less of an issue in the more freeform Guerrilla, and it seems like it might be a fairly niggling concern in Armageddon. Then again, perhaps we just went a little too wild with those new weapons. But can you really blame us?

Overall, though, we had a great time with Red Faction: Armageddon. Whether it was fighting those Ravagers in a dark, gloomy cave that felt like it came straight out of a survival horror game or jumping into the armored L.E.O. exoskeleton and smashing through walls like a violent, stumbling robot, we enjoyed every bit of mayhem we caused in Armageddon. Expect to see it out on May 17.

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Discussion

80 comments
MaxPwnage
MaxPwnage

Ok is anyone mad at the direction the Red Faction series has gone in? I have been a fan since the original, and what made the original story so awesome was it's half-life rip off pacing/suspense. I was sooo pissed when they made it 3rd person/GTA (it was still a fun game, just not cool the direciton they went in). Armeggedon looks like it's going back to its roots (the first took places in the caves entirely, unfortunatly the game looks like a Dead Space rip off. R.I.P.my once favourate game series :|

Earth_Krish
Earth_Krish

Didn't sit right with them? You could insta-travel to any of the safehouses when you wanted too! Then when it came to missions it was awesome trekking across the planet in open combat.. Guerrilla was one of the best games in single player I have ever played. You could approach many missions from a few different angle and methods, and I thought they'd want to expand on that. I was afraid they wouldn't when I saw these cave environments, and I guess I was terribly right. I see no reason why you can't have the same weapons in an open environment, or just have sections of the game that take into those close quarters, like there was in RF:guerrilla. Just more of "2 steps forwards, 5 steps back"

km001
km001

I hope I can destroy some UFO in this game LOL

method115
method115

This one looks really good, never really liked the graphics of the last one this one seems a lot better. Seems like they tried to concentrate on the story more to.

xboxuser
xboxuser

No open-world? I don't think I like that...the best parts of Guerrilla were wandering around, destroying everything in sight.

Poppelino
Poppelino

cant wait to buy it. I love the recostructure tool so you can destroy stuff over and over

Raiden_II
Raiden_II

Stop! It's hammer time! This sounds like an unhealthy amount of fun again. :-)

lost_cause10
lost_cause10

so.....let the destructions begiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin !!!

Mr_Great_Dane
Mr_Great_Dane

What a good looking game, hope it´s play well to ....!

lukajus
lukajus

i never played any red faction games but still i can say that this game will be ..... AWESOME

realone2005
realone2005

loved all 3 Red Faction games, can't wait for the 4th.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

....Bring back Red Faction 2. Just call it Red Faction 3. Red Faction 2 had a damn fine plot and storyline.

Dargoth
Dargoth

Not an open-world game? What the?!?!?! First Spider-Man, now this one ,too... I was really looking forward to it, but now I'm not sure if i want this game anymore.

Tha_DRP
Tha_DRP

Gonna' get this game forsure!

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

dang this looks amazingly amazing. Physics, destruction, and graphics are awesom

AdamProject
AdamProject

Sounds uberly kick ass, but I'd personally prefer go anywhere to be a feature still. Plus after four months and one game, even new weapons get boring xD

OrNiGhTZ
OrNiGhTZ

heard about the franchise..popularity is increasing , now that a new release is underway ..Pc players are lucky

CageFury
CageFury

Haven't been interested in any Red Faction games since the original, but this is looking great. I'll def have to check this out.

arandomjoe
arandomjoe

awesome game ! im definitely going to get this

tenaus
tenaus

Looks quite a bit better that the last one, and more like what I would expect from a game like this as well.

Kid_Mega
Kid_Mega

2011 looks to be the year of scifi games, lol. This game, Mass Effect 2(ps3), Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 2, Killzone 3 and SWTOR. I'm probably missing some too. Woohoo for scifi games!

ztg360
ztg360

played and loved all 3 rfs this one doesn't look like its going to stop the trend

davidsworld3
davidsworld3

I'll rent it. Thats it doesn't look any better.

Boris_17
Boris_17

Looking forward to buying it (now that I saw this video)!

juggaloJRB
juggaloJRB

i might add this game to my list to buy with ME3 & crisis 2

CabooseGrif
CabooseGrif

If this game is better than the original then theres no sense in not buyin it

justirize
justirize

this game is interesting.cant wait to buy it.XD

TheDragonManiac
TheDragonManiac

hope this game will be more intresting than Guriella not that guriella was bad but it have some boring moments

BigJohnWV
BigJohnWV

*sees the word plasma beam....goes to preorder it* This game is going to be insane. I love Guerrilla and this one looks freakin' awesome. The only problem I see is that it's more linear now, kinda like how Bad Company's SP mode was more wide-open and Bad Company's 2 SP was more linear. Oh well, hopefully they put that plasma beam in multiplayer.

Czech895
Czech895

is it me or does the guy in the robo suit bear a striking resemblance to marcus fenix?

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

looks good but please make a red faction1 style game >.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

The plasma looks good, but it didn't work the way I'd imagined it from the write-up. I expected it to slice through objects leaving a thin, scorch-marked cut separating the two areas a-la a light-saber or something, but instead, it seemed to wholly disintegrate the wall/building part that it touched. Still cool though.

Gomtor
Gomtor

Cheers - Im teleporting to 17 May 2011!

b0sse
b0sse

hell yeah! good to see they abandoned the open-world/sandbox setup. open-world/sandbox games gets tedious/boring and repetivite very fast.

Arbiter_92
Arbiter_92

Nice demo, and for those of you wondering, the rebuild gun is the Nano forge but in RFG it could only deconstruct objects

blueace88
blueace88

this looks awesome! was the original red faction any good?

HaVoC_DX
HaVoC_DX

I loved RFG and I think this game is definitely gonna kick ass !!

HaVoC_DX
HaVoC_DX

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

evaneself
evaneself

Red Faction: Armageddon's Steam Activation

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

That dude needs to calm down already. Plus he could really use that 'magic-stuff-back-together' gun for serious good deeds in earthquake struck places of the world. Looks alright, might consider it.

dalua360
dalua360

The rebuild weapon(don't know the name) was my favorite on RF:G multiplayer, and now it's in the campaign, awesome!!! I just have to say that I prefer open world games!! But let's see how much freedom we'll have in this one!

raysofthesun
raysofthesun

Wow I'm speechless. Those physical effects are just... amazing

Berkut666
Berkut666

I guess this is a return to the old style original Red Faction as they were under ground for the most part.