Red Faction: Armageddon Single-Player Hands-On Preview

Red Faction: Armageddon

In addition to our hands-on time with Red Faction: Armageddon‘s multiplayer modes, THQ and Volition also recently afforded GamerNode ample hands-on time with the game’s single-player campaign. Armageddon follows different design philosophies than its predecessors, opting to provide players with a more directed, cinematic experience than the previous open-world offering. While those who have grown accustomed to the mechanics of Red Faction: Guerrilla may end up longing for more sandbox mayhem, this new approach seems right to provide players with an engaging, well-fleshed narrative. And rest assured, destruction is still the name of the game.

Armageddon takes place some 50 years after the events of Guerrilla, and follows Darius Mason, grandson of Guerrilla‘s Alec Mason, as he travels above and below the once-again uninhabitable surface of Mars alongside the Red Faction military, battling the hordes of aliens that seem to pour from everywhere that isn’t locked down and secured. Although I could tell from the cutscenes and mission directives that the game’s story would be a definite focus in Armageddon, aiming to bring a more cohesive, filmic feel to the experience, the nature of the demo available to us didn’t allow me to fully appreciate the game’s underlying narrative. Really, the centerpiece of this preview session was combat, which is what players will spend most of their Armageddon time engaged in, anyway.

Red Faction: Armageddon

First and foremost: The Magnet Gun. The Mag Gun is Armageddon‘s signature weapon, and the most satisfying one in the game to use. Like Valve’s Gravity Gun before it, the Mag Gun has unlimited ammo and is dangerous not because it shoots its own projectile, but because it physically manipulates the world around its wielder. In the case of the Magnet Gun, players fire a magnet shot, followed by an attractor, and send the initial target flying toward the second. This simple concept has a myriad of applications in the midst of combat. The tactic that dominated my personal play time was to tag an enemy, then look up somewhere at a far-off ceiling or wall and launch my attractor, simultaneously ridding myself of an approaching threat and smushing an alien quickly and painfully on something hard and unforgiving.

The gun can also be used to throw objects at enemies, which works well considering the extreme destructability of Armageddon‘s environments — the franchise’s other calling card. Essentially any man-made structure can be dismantled with the Mag Gun, or otherwise destroyed with standard weapons fire. Certain missions even incorporate this demolition process into their objective structure. It’s a lot of fun when the game says, "Hey, just go knock down a crapload of buildings." My answer: "Hell yeah!"

Also returning is the Nano Forge, which reverses the process. Holding down the repair button, or later, tossing a repair module at a broken structure, will reassemble what was once an intact object, even if you’ve just destroyed it yourself. This is useful for building and rebuilding cover, or simply supplying yourself with unlimited ammunition for your Magnet Gun. It’s no problem at all to toss a chunk of wall at some aliens, repair the wall with the Nano Forge, and then fire the Magnet Gun again. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. And as you may have guessed, the repair function will also be smoothly integrated into missions throughout the campaign.

Red Faction: Armageddon

Perhaps the freshest aspect of this particular preview build was the availability of the four combat-based Nano Forge abilities that will be acquired throughout the course of the game. Impact fires an energy blast in front of Darius, either forcing enemies away or outright killing them. Shockwave grabs nearby enemies and puts them in a stasis field, suspending them in midair for easy execution. Shell is a defensive ability that erects a wall of energy that reflects enemy fire and consumes aliens that attempt to pass through it. Berserk increases offensive abilities, making weapons inflict more damage for quick, effective killing. Because these are all powerful weapons against the aliens, the Nano Forge must cycle through a set recharge time between uses. This period can be shortened via the game’s upgrade system; all Nano Forge abilities, along with a number of passive traits and weapon specs, can be enhanced at special stations using points earned from killing enemies or found scattered throughout the environment.

Mag Guns and Nano Forge aside, Armageddon will also feature standard weapons, although standard isn’t 100 percent accurate. Of course there’s a shotgun and basic pistols and rifles, but Armageddon also incorporates some more interesting arms, like a plasma cannon, rocket launcher, remote-detonated sticky-grenade launcher, high-powered dual pistols, and a sniper rifle that sees and shoots through walls. Every weapon I tried out was interesting and enjoyable to use, and different enough from the others to feel like it actually belongs in the game. That’s definitely a good thing. On top of that, Darius occasionally straps into a large mech suit equipped with rockets, a heavy machine gun, and a bull-rush ability for serious Martian murdering.

Red Faction: Armageddon has a lot to offer when it arrives in June: solid shooting, an improved narrative structure, accompanying purposeful level design, strong Nano Forge abilities, and the badass Magnet Gun. Get ready for a trip back to Mars.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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