May 4, 2011

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Red Faction: Armageddon Demo Impressions

Red Faction: Armageddon Demo Impressions

Mars was a common theme of early Sci Fi, usually involving Martians or the idea of people one day moving to the red planet. In the story of Red Faction, the dream of moving to Mars has come true; however, it seems Mars is no better than Earth.  Fifty years has passed since the corruption hit the planet, and the end is near. Unlike the first game, Red Faction: Guerilla, this time you’re underground, and the open world setting has been shifted to a more linear experience. While this could sound like a bad design decision, after playing yesterday’s XBox 360 demo, I have to say I like this new direction.

The demo begins after some sort of conflict. You play as Darius Mason, grandson of Martian revolution heroes Alec Mason and Samanya. The Terraformer that supplies Mars with its Earth-like air has been destroyed, sending the Colonists into underground mines to survive, with Darius being one of the few people who still venture to the surface. Soon Darius is tricked into opening a mysterious shaft in an old Marauder temple that releases an alien threat that attacks the Colonists. As a result, everyone is mad at you, so you must clear your name along with fending off the alien invasion. That’s all that is known about the plot, and the demo doesn’t help us learn more about the story. The demo does pick up right after Darius unlocks the temple, though.

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Once you flee the people who blame you for the alien attacks, the playable portion of the demo starts, and boy, is this something worth talking about! Let me start by saying I’ve yet to play a game exactly like this demo, and it is quite fun. The big draw here is not only the unique guns or the alien monsters you need to kill, but the interactive environments. Just about anything can be destroyed, and in the case of the magnet gun, the destructible environment can help you kill enemies, too. Anything destroyed can also be repaired easily using Nano Forge, so you can be free to destroy without worrying about locking yourself out or inhibiting your progress. Nano Forge is a technology first introduced in Red Faction: Guerrilla; originally used to fight enemies, this tech can now be used to repair anything in the environment.

Red Faction: Armageddon is an interesting third-person shooter even without the destruction/repair gimmick. All of the controls are spot on, and the enemies jump around, adding a bit of challenge to each shot. The demo also showcases an array of weapons. The first is something of a grenade gun which allows you to fire a set number of bombs that you can set off as you wish. Next is the aforementioned magnet gun, which is quite interesting due to the deceptive power. With the magnet gun you fire two shots: the first sets the attraction point, and the second will pull everything to the first shot. This can cause the ceilings to fall, crushing several enemies, or you can use pipes to do the same. Finally, the singularity cannon creates a huge vortex followed by an explosion. Weapons are not the only bit featured; the game also has an exoskeleton of sorts. This weapon is interesting, as it gives you lock-on rockets and far more bullets to fire than traditional weapons, along with giving you incredible strength that allows you to charge through walls Juggernaut style.

As you play through the game, you’ll also be able to purchase new abilities and power ups. What’s interesting is these upgrades and unlocks will carry over to the multiplayer mode and vice versa. The power ups offered in the demo were things like a stasis ability using the Nano Forge and decreased damage taken when dodging. The multiplayer portion, which was not available in the demo, will be a mode called “Infestation,” which is basically a horde mode, so Armageddon will not have competitive multiplayer.

Aesthetically Armageddon looks great, especially the surrounding environment. Stepping away from the previous game’s open world setting, Armageddon takes place in underground caves. Not only does the setting look great, but the caverns offer a nice bit of usability and strategy while at the same time more offering more depth. The caves offered several alternating paths with several elements you could bend to your will. Not only are these elements well done, but there’s quite a bit of variety in designs, too.

Red Faction: Armageddon really does a good job of standing out. So many of the elements are not only unique to the series, but to the genre, too. Sadly, not a lot of elements are showcased in the demo; still, what is included is thrilling. The story and just about everything looks to be a “can’t miss” gaming experience. If you were unsure of this title in the past, now is the time to give the franchise a chance.

Red Faction: Armageddon is set for release on for the Xbox 306, PC and PS3 on June 7. Also, as an added bonus to fans, if the demo reaches 1 million downloads, Voiltion will unlock a special weapon called “Mr. Toots,” which you’ll understand after viewing this video.