Red Faction: Armageddon Hands-On Preview

By Darryl Kaye on April 27, 2011, 3:40PM EDT

When Volition announced they were working on bringing back the Red Faction franchise, I was rather pleased, but also a bit sceptical. The original Red Faction, for me, was pretty groundbreaking, but Red Faction 2 was underwhelming and left me with a sour feeling. Guerrilla didn't disappoint though, at least on some levels. It had an awesome amount of destruction and a great sandbox feel, but it also felt rather flat. And now, with Armageddon, they have a chance to pull it all together, a chance to create the ultimate Red Faction experience.

Despite Volition promoting a linear approach this time around, it looks as though it will genuinely work in the game's favour. There will now be a much more focussed story campaign, that again looks at the plight of a descendant of the Mason household. He's blamed for setting something rather terrible in motion and sets out to stop it, but also clear his name.

Throughout the experience there was a real sense of purpose. Not because of the crusade you were on, but because of the effect you had on the world around you.

Almost as soon as the demo kicked off, you were able to obliviously destroy your own exit, but the inclusion of the repair functionality makes this a masterstroke. You can destroy a bridge to make an enemy plummet to its death or you can hurl the bridge at something to create the same effect. Afterwards, you can then repair the bridge as if nothing ever happened. Conversely, you may blow up something you need by accident, a situation which can again be rectified.

There are various guns available, but the Magnet Gun is the real star of the show. It doesn't need ammunition, as such, and it can do considerable amounts of damage too. You attach a magnet to something, or a piece of scenery, and then you get to choose where that magnet will home to. So, you can attach it to a building, and then attach the tether to an enemy - causing the building to go hurtling towards it. Or, you can do the opposite; attach the magnet to an enemy and hurl it at a building, or even another enemy.

You will also be able to run around in full battle-suit mechs, that can cause massive amounts of carnage, just be moving. And as the developers give you more stuff, they also throw more stuff in your way too. There seems to be a nice balance, so that you always feel one-step more powerful, but there's something to bring you back down to earth too.

To compliment the story, there will also be two other modes: Ruin and Infestation. The first mode, is almost identical to the version which appeared in Red Faction: Guerrilla. You have a limited amount of time, and you're tasked with causing as much destruction as possible in that given time. For Armageddon, they've made it a bit more tactical though, with objectives to hit and different score multipliers depending on the type of thing you're destroying. You'll need to play through the levels a couple of times in order to get down a solid path, in order to get the best score possible. What might seem like a ridiculous target to start off with, quickly changes once you find a weapon that suits you, and an efficient way of bringing the house down.

The other mode, Infestation, is a four-player PvE game. We'll talk more about that in a separate preview though, because it deserves the extra attention. Needless to say though, that full-on competitive modes have been removed for Armageddon, but it's not that much of a big deal - they won't be missed.

Red Faction: Armageddon is due for release at the end of May in North America and the start of June in Europe.

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