Red Faction: Armageddon is the answer from Volition where they have made a return to Mars, and to hardcore destructibility, but from a welcome new perspective.
Red Faction: Battlegrounds a downloadable multiplayer arena shooter hat’s “very DLC-based, all about the world”, according to THQ. In my opinion, it’s just not inspiring stuff: downloadable titles can be simple, but this looks like you’ve seen everything in the first minute. A more uccessful expansion of the world may be Red Faction: Origins, an animated movie produced by Syfy, based on he property and scheduled for March next year. Add the usual slew of books, comics and hoodies come the release date of Armageddon and, though we’re suckers for Red Faction’s destruction as such as anyone, it does make you wonder who’s buying this stuff. There’s a distinct flavour of Dead Space in the insectoid nature of the enemies. Whether this sci-fi twist will gel with the series’ grass-roots theme is yet to be seen.
Red Faction.. Guerrilla was a shot in Rthe arm for an unfancied franchise, and its spectacular destructible environments made it a dark horse in last year’s gongs. So it’s to developer Volition’s credit that, rather than resting on those laurels, Armageddon takes the key selling point of Big Chunky Destruction into a different subgenre: the orange panoramas of Mars have morphed into a claustrophobic thirdperson shooter.
Once again, the ghost of Dead Space is invoked (you could write an article by now on the influences of Visceral’s game). Armageddon’s atmosphere and viewpoint are heavily influenced by Isaac Clarke’s adventure, but that’s not to say it’s without its own character. Set in a subterranean network beneath Mars, the environments are much larger and more interactive than in comparable games, and a neat differentiator is the placement of structures on walls and ceilings. And, naturally, collapsing them is given as much prominence as ever. The most fun way to do this is with a magnet gun, which works in the same way as its ilk in Just Cause 2 and Crackdown 2 – except here you can rip enemies through buildings, pull down huge rocks or cause two gigantic structures to topple themselves on to a massive army. By narrowing the playing field for destruction, Armageddon invites it to be used more creatively than before: there are plenty of other ways to demolish things beyond the magnet gun. It sometimes feels like a tower collapses if you sneeze.
But fear not, hippies: you can also make everything right again with the repair gun. Point and fire its soothing blue beam and ruined objects reassemble themselves – walling off a particularly large group of enemies, closing up a shipping crate for a breather or pulling up the rubble just as foes run across it. Real men have the option of the black hole gun, creating a vortex that violently pulls in debris and nearby enemies, crashing them into each other. By the time the hero climbs into a Red Faction Leo battlesuit and begins railgunning small enemies, sending homing rockets after the big ones, and sprinting through buildings, you’ve got to admit that it looks like an awful lot of fun. When magic is added to the mix, sparking off stasis fields that lift up the enemies like ragdolls before they’re magnet-gunned to a truck, the entire proposition only becomes more appealing.