At the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month, we saw a demo of Volition's fourth game in the Red Faction series where virtually everything that is man made can be utterly destroyed. Red Faction: Armageddon is a direct sequel to last year's Red Faction: Guerrilla and stars the grandson of Alec Mason and Samanya, Darius Mason. Armageddon looks to keep things fun and destructible, and Jameson Durall, the lead level designer at Volition, came by to highlight some of the new features, as well as talk about the alien infestation that is rapidly spreading through the underground mines.
The demo, like the one we saw at E3, led us through a ravaged underground mining facility where an infestation had been unleashed on the world just three days ago. There's no word on whether or not other colonists have survived, but this particular area was littered with dead bodies and crawling with alien creatures. Darius is in charge of leading a convoy of survivors safely through, hoping to find others that may have escaped the calamity along the way. The infestation is a blood-red vinelike arm that wraps itself around the empty storage warehouses. We were told that the infestation essentially leeches everything from the structure as though it were a food source, so your goal is to make sure it doesn't have anything to feed off of by destroying everything.
Unlike Red Faction: Guerrilla, you shouldn't have any qualms about destroying everything in sight; in fact, that's what you're supposed to do if you hope to leave behind a safe path for survivors. An icon in your radar will indicate which structures need to be taken down. We talked about the new magnet gun that smashes two objects you fire at together in our last preview, and even though we didn't get to see any new weapons this time around, Durall told us about a singularity gun that fires a small black hole. This weapon will suck up and pull everything that is nearby and then fling it outward, causing even more destruction. The nano forge from the previous game has been passed down in the family, and now, Darius is also able to use it to repair structures. This adds a new element to the gameplay because you can use this device to build your own cover or block a path so that the aliens can't follow you. In the demo, Darius blew apart a container, ran inside, and then put it back together to take a break. This new ability enables you to reassemble buildings you've taken down and bring them down once more to knock over enemies.
Another thing that the nano forge can do (which we didn't see) is fire off a shockwave that acts as an area attack to disable creatures in your vicinity. This disables them and causes them to fall back, giving you time to focus and pick off one alien at a time. Durall explained that this new feature gives players more options and changes up the gameplay experience. We'll learn more about the other uses of the nano forge another time, as the focus of our demo was on the aliens. The first enemies we encountered were the creepers, which are spiderlike fast-moving aliens that attack in a pack. The aliens send creepers out as part of the first wave to take out any humans that might get in the way. They have leaping attacks and a ranged spit attack, so even if they aren't very durable, in large numbers, they can be quite annoying. Their role is to neutralize the area so that the disease can continue to spread without having anyone get in the way.
The next group we faced were the ravagers, a much larger alien species that stands upright and is more cunning than the insectlike creepers because it uses the walls and ceilings to its advantage. Agile and stronger, ravagers are the defense lines and keep you from destroying what they're trying to build. These are two of the weakest aliens that you'll encounter in the game, and Volition isn't quite ready yet to reveal other details at this point. Durall gave us a bit of backstory by mentioning that Dr. Capec from the original Red Faction had encountered the same aliens and was performing tests on them. The mutants that resulted from those experiments were what you faced in the initial game. These aliens have been buried underground for a long time now and have only recently awoken. It seems that there's more of an emphasis on the story this time around, as THQ is delving into the lore by partnering with the SyFy channel to put together a live action two-hour movie pilot by the time the game ships called Red Faction: Origins. The story will follow Alex Mason's son Jake and take place between the events in Guerrilla and Armageddon.
We'll be keeping a close watch on the game in the months to come, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more details on Red Faction: Armageddon as soon as they become available. The game is currently set to be released March 1, 2011.