Red Faction: Armageddon impressions

THQ had a brief demonstration of the next iteration in the Red Faction series, subtitled Armageddon, at E3 last week and I made sure to take the opportunity to see it. Set two generations after the events of Guerrilla, the Martian colony has moved back from the ruined surface of the planet and rebuilt underground. Now they find themselves under attack by a previously unknown race of creatures which has overrun and infected the colony in a short 72-hour span.

Players take on the role of Darius Mason, grandson of Red Faction: Guerrilla protagonists Alec Mason and Samanya, who is somehow being held responsible for the events which threaten the colony. Thankfully, Darius’ family passed down the Nano Forge, which has seen some changes since the last time we saw its use.

Where the Nano Forge used to function as a rifle that would disintegrate anything its fire came in contact with, the new version performs the exact opposite function. By using it on destroyed environmental objects, you can use the Nano Forge to rebuild, the objects knitting themselves back together. This enables the player to create cover on the fly, repair broken equipment and more that Volition promises to reveal as time goes on.

The second and likely more important tool demonstrated was the Magnet Gun. This nasty device works in two stages. First, you target something you would like to move somewhere else and pull the trigger. This could be enemies, vehicles, debris or even the bare walls of the colony. Next, aim where you would like the target object to move to and fire again. The first target is then rapidly drawn to the second.

The Magnet Gun looks pretty exciting and is a great way to see the destructibility of the environment, which looks as impressive as ever. While the mechanic is simple, the chaos that this weapon causes on the battlefield is massive in scale. Seeing what are essentially boulders being torn from the very walls and slammed into an enemy on the other side of the room with the pull of a trigger is amazing. It’s also especially funny to watch one enemy be flung into another at a high rate of speed. 

A final toy shown off in the demonstration is the Exo, a heavily armored robotic suit. This thing is a monster, as evidenced by the way it plows through enemies like they were made of dry, unpacked sand. Buildings are no match for it either, as this trundling monstrosity seems capable of walking over pretty much anything in its path. 

On the whole, Red Faction: Armageddon seems to be heading in the right direction. I’m not particularly thrilled with the seeming shift in story towards something a little more in the monster movie department than the themes of revolution and resistance the series has tackled before now. But the mechanics shown to me are impressive and look to be a lot of fun to play so I’ll continue to be cautiously optimistic for the time being.

Conrad Zimmerman