Red Faction: Armageddon - quick play preview

Red Faction fans are wringing their hands. What are Volition doing to the Red Faction franchise? Guerrilla became a third-person open world sandbox game and the next instalment, Armageddon is a more typical linear over-the-shoulder approach. We had some time playing some single player missions at a UK preview event, so thought we’d bring you some of the details.

Name

Red Faction: Armageddon

What platform is it on?

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC

When’s it due out?

End of May 2011

What other game is it like?

Erm, like the good bits of previous Red Faction games, all mixed together

Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move, or Kinect for Xbox 360?

No.

The pitch

Red Faction: Armageddon moves beneath the surface of Mars as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As Darius Mason, players fight to save humanity from an even greater evil that threatens to extinguish all life on the planet.

The storyline

A long-dormant evil emerges from the caves of Mars, unleashing Armageddon on the planet’s colonists. With this force stopping at nothing to cleanse the planet of life, mankind finds itself poised on the brink of extinction. Red Faction: Armageddon is set two generations after Guerilla, you play Darius Mason, Alec Mason's grandson.

Our first impressions

The action comes thick and fast in Armageddon. We’ve played through some of the levels, but from the amount we played so far it was difficult to judge exactly how the story all hangs together. However, we did have plenty of time to play with weapons, explore the environment and inevitably destroy it - this is Red Faction after all, and the destructible environment is a really big part of it.

The gaming environment is underground. As such it feels entirely removed from the last Red Faction game, Guerrilla. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you can’t see Armageddon as a continuation of Guerrilla, so there is a feeling that what you’re playing is new and original. Being underground does mean that the game is pretty much linear, but there is enough scope to make sure you’re not entirely constrained to the one path.

Because of the setting, the destructible environment is all around you and there are plenty of structures for you to destroy. It isn’t all destruction for the sake of destruction however, as you’ll often find that, thanks to suspended walkways and the like, that destroying everything leaves you with no path to continue.

To counter this you now have Nano Forge technology, which lets you rebuild things that have been destroyed. Often you’ll find that in battling enemies you’ll have destroyed some of your path - Nano Forge lets you restore it and continue on your way. At other times you’ll need to rebuild missing elements; until you figure it out you’ll be left scratching your head wondering where you are supposed to go.

In terms of weaponry, we didn’t see all that was on offer, but from the outset you have a basic selection of weapons, collecting more advanced weapons as you progress. The Maul sees a welcome return, so you can smash anything you find but ultimately we took to the shotgun and grenade launcher, which lets you detonate the grenades manually, so is a useful weapon for inaccurately dealing with grouped enemies. Auto targeting makes it pretty easy to switch from one enemy to the next, so you aren't dealing with aiming all the time.

We also played a level where you climb into the mech suit. This lets you charge through just about anything, with targeted rockets and guns, and it really is a lot of fun as you'll be able to accurately engage multiple targets quickly and easily. It’s a shame when you eventually have to climb out because you are faced with a ladder and you can’t climb a ladder in a mech suit, doh!

There are upgrades along the route, so as you earn points you can buy upgrades. These vary, offering the usual health and speed enhancements - we went for an upgrade to change magazines faster, as reloading is a little slow when the action hots up.

The environment is interesting and from what we played it seems to offer more diversity than we first thought. It can be a little confusing at times but the guidance resolves that problem easily, showing the path you need to follow to keep things moving along. Generally speaking you don't get too held up along the way, so it feels as though you are making constant forward progress. We like the balance between destruction and regeneration, even if the environment is a little too dark in some places. 

The destructible environment is more advanced than previously, so you don't feel as though it has only been included to give you something to break for the sake of it. It does add something unique to Armageddon that other shooters don't have. The tone of the game seems pretty serious, but you can't help laughing as structures collapse around you, which makes it a lot of fun.

We can't really judge what the difficulty is like from our short play - we did die a couple of times, usually because we destroyed the bridge or walkway we were standing on, rather than at the hands of the enemy.

Please note

What we've done here is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on a couple of hours of gaming. For us that hour isn't enough to do a First Look review so instead we just given you our impressions based on what we've seen in the flesh.