Red Faction Armageddon – hands on preview

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by Matthew Hurst

The music in Armageddon pretty much sums up the game: it is scary and atmospheric in parts and you find yourself wondering what’s going to jump out of the wall. At other times it’s loud and urgent, so you know a swarm of enemies is just around the corner.

The story revolves around Darius Mason, grandson of Alec Mason and Samanya, the protagonists in Guerilla. It is set in 2170, 50 years after Alec and Samanya saved the day and ten years after catastrophic events forced the Colonists into the cave system beneath Mars. Darius has set up shop in Bastion, one of the main underground cities, as a freelance engineer and gun-for-hire. Despite warnings, he accepts a drill job on the surface, where very few people dare to tread due to the storms which ravage the surface.

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He is tricked into unleashing a horde of aliens by a Marauder priest, the leader of the enemy cultists on Mars. This sets off events that get out of control and force Darius to join the Red Faction to save his people from the native aliens and the cultists alike. He’s accompanied by S.A.M, which stands for Situational Awareness Module but is otherwise a lone ranger, with no one fighting beside him throughout the game. The exchanges between S.A.M and Darius are funny and she doesn’t always give you the answer you’re looking for, but she is a welcome addition to Darius’ toolkit.

The first big change you come across is the linear nature of the game. Unlike in Guerilla, Armageddon allows very limited exploration and no choice in how to approach a situation – there is no way of sneaking past the enemy or avoiding a battle. Luckily, you are equipped with an array of weapons, from basic pistols and shotguns, to advanced weapons that literally disintegrate the enemy aliens (as well as the environment in some cases). The trademark weapon is the magnet gun. The premise is incredible simple: Shoot one magnet at Object A and another magnet at Object B, and they will hurtle towards each other. For example, fire a magnet at a ravager’s head, and the other magnet at an explosive barrel, then sit back and watch the fun happen. My second favourite weapon was the charge launcher, allowing you to fire five sticky grenades at your enemy and then detonate them all at once. The singularity cannon is another unique gun, sucking everything in the vicinity into a black hole before detonating and throwing debris back out again. There are multiple vehicles in Armageddon which are great fun, especially the mech, which you can use to fling enemies across the room. Unfortunately, these are not used as much as they could’ve been.

Destruction is an area in which Armageddon excels. Volition Inc.’s Geo-Mod 2.0 engine means, as in Guerilla, you can destroy any man made building or object. I never tired of swinging the sledgehammer at a building and watching it tumble. There is a twist though: you can repair all that damage again with the new Nano-forge technology known as the Reconstructor. With a simple click of the mouse, all the destruction you caused is reversed in mere seconds. This often comes in useful when you’ve destroyed a ramp to eliminate some pesky aliens, and you need to get across. They have also addressed long distance repairs: simply lob a repair grenade and that out of reach generator you need to work to get the lift moving is miraculously as good as new.

Last Updated: May 31, 2011

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