The original Red Faction is a personal favorite of mine; Memories of playing that game in multiplayer will forever stick with me, mostly due to the ridiculous and unnecessary destruction I caused simply because it was so much fun. So when Red Faction: Guerrilla was announced, I was understandably excited. More destruction? Better gameplay? Sign me up.
Now, after the fantastic Guerrilla, Volition Inc. has given a closed-doors demonstration of the fourth entry in the series, Red Faction: Armageddon, at E3 here in Los Angeles, and it’s taking the series in a much different direction, forcing the characters deep underground, nearly to hell.
THQ’s staff showed attendees a short trailer and nearly ten-minute gameplay demonstration of Armageddon, which introduced the game’s basic story and the new protagonist, Darius Mason. After the surface of Mars is destroyed in a war, the remaining members of the Red Faction are forced to move underground. After ten years of rebuilding, the player will join Darius, who finds himself still fighting the armies who destroyed the surface as well as mutated beings that assail the underground survivors.
Unsurprisingly, the game feels much darker, both in tone and in its visual style. The introductory trailer painted a picture of the survivors struggling for their very survival shortly after finally winning their freedom and creating a home on Mars. In addition, Mason’s story appears to be one filled with tragedy, as the presenters were quick to note that the other survivors blame Mason for their current situation. Based on this, I would be willing to bet that this game will offer a much more narrative-focused experience.
The game’s visuals look rather similar to the previous entry in the series, though the surroundings are understandably quite different. We were shown an environment that was extremely dark, with an ominous glow from flowing lava. In addition, the gameplay demonstration showed some of the buildings in the game, which feel more like real function buildings than those in Guerrilla, which often felt like constructions made simply to be destroyed, not to be lived in.
That isn’t to say that these buildings aren’t meant to be destroyed. The presenters showed off some of the cool new abilities of the Geomod 2.0 engine, which now includes not only destructions but also reconstruction. Starting with destruction, the game includes a brand new weapon called the magnet gun, which is exactly what it sounds like: a gun that works like a magnet. Simply tag one object with the gun, then aim and fire at an enemy, building, or part of the environment, and you’ll send the first object hurtling toward your selected location. Useful, no doubt. Mason easily took out enemies with sections of a building’s wall and destroyed buildings with random objects laying around.
There’s also a focus now on reconstruction, which can be used in some creative ways. In one section of the demonstration, Mason was attacked by a huge group of enemies. Rather than take them down head on, he retreated into a half-destroyed container and used the reconstruction ability, which essentially created a safe room for Mason where he could rest up and prepare for the fight ahead. There are most assuredly myriad tactical applications for reconstruction.
Also of note is the fact that the shooting in the game appears to be quite different from that in Guerrilla. The camera has been moved quite a bit closer to the player character, and it moves in even closer when the player wants to use fine aim. Honestly, it reminded me of the perspective used by the Gears of War series, which I think could be very beneficial for the series. The presenters appeared to have no trouble shooting even the small creatures attacking in force.
Overall, I walked away from the demonstration reassured. I had doubts that the series would work in its new setting, with creature enemies perhaps replacing human enemies, and fewer options being available to defeat your enemies in creative ways. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Human enemies will be plentiful, as the survivors are still at war with those who destroyed the surface. New additions like the magnet gun and new mech suits seem like great fun, giving even more entertaining ways to tear apart the world around you.
Red Faction: Armageddon is currently scheduled for a March 2011 release.