Without even getting into Infestation Mode, Red Faction: Armageddon is already shaping up to be a vast improvement over its predecessor, Red Faction: Guerrilla. Not only is it now a lot more focussed, but there are some solid new weapons and the repair mechanic. It also does away with PvP completely, with Armageddon instead promoting team-work in the form of co-operative modes for up to four players.
Getting rid of PvP was a bold decision by Volition - it's something that has been the cornerstone of third-person and first-person shooters for many years. But from what I saw of Infestation Mode, it's a decision that has been thoroughly vindicated. It always felt like Guerrilla's online mode was just there because it had to be, not because the developers wanted it to be. Sure, it had progression systems, it had the destruction and it had the weapons, but it was never that engaging.
Infestation Mode is the complete opposite of this. While PvP has a strong foothold on the industry, PvE modes have been creeping up, and Armageddon takes a leaf out of a mode which has come to the forefront, Horde Mode. As such, Infestation puts you with three other people to face ever-increasing odds. But that's pretty much all that connects it with other games that have a similar mode, as Armageddon's is in a league of its own in terms of both scope and quality.
If I began by saying you started off in a rather dark, confined space, this wouldn't be that much different to anything else. But what about if you factor in that enemies can attack you from absolutely anywhere? I could also start off by saying that there's cover to hide behind, but again that's not really very original. But what if you factor in that this cover can be obliterated and then repaired as if nothing ever happened? There's also nothing stopping me from talking about the guns you can use, but the basic guns again aren't all that ground-breaking. However, what if I factored in not just one Magnet Gun, but four?
You see, Armageddon takes all of the traditional elements of many third-person shooters and throws them all out the window. It's quite difficult to describe, but when you have this level of unprecedented destruction, enemies who adapt to the level's dynamic design and the ability to throw chunks of the map around, all while someone else is repairing it... it honestly boggles the mind.
Absolute chaos is the best way to describe what it dissolves into, but it's organised chaos. Despite there needing to be next-to-no cohesion between squad mates, you will all naturally bunch up for the common goal - survival. And this is where you'll need to use the Magnet Gun and the Repair functions, so you have an endless supply of ammo. You can use other guns if you want, but they won't always be as productive. And when you have enemies everywhere and pieces of scenery flying around, and the level also being repaired on the fly, it's truly astonishing.
There will undoubtedly be some stunning graphics this year, and also some breath-taking physics on show, but it's hard to see anything matching what Volition has done with Red Faction: Armageddon's Infestation Mode. It starts off slowly, but by about the 10th Wave, things get absolutely crazy, in a good way. I personally can't wait to check it out in the full version of the game (releasing early next month), if only so I can be further amazed by what they've achieved.