Red Faction: Armageddon hands-on multiplayer preview

Sure, Darius Mason’s new Gravity Gun is pretty cool, but it’s certainly not the only upgrade to the Red Faction arsenal that he has floating around his bag in Red Faction: Armageddon. In the years since his grandfather’s successful rebellion in Red Faction: Guerrilla, the Nano Forge technology has been harnessed. Instead of simply being a destructive force capable of disintegrating any material, it can help out in a variety of ways while you fight off the oncoming hordes, including holding enemies in the air with the Shockwave power, going super powerful with the Berserk damage upgrade, and saving your ass with the Shell power, named as such for obvious reasons. It can even repair full buildings and cover for those times when you’d rather create than destroy.

But what good would all this upgraded machinery be without being able to show it off to your friends? Perhaps the most anticipated addition to the game is the multiplayer Infestation mode. Sure, it’s a fairly straightforward Horde-style mode, but all the destruction that comes with being a Red Faction title, there’s enough variation to set it apart from the, well, hordes of other similar modes. Pulling down structures to crush enemies (with the Magnet Gun, of course), repairing them, and then crushing their buddies is endlessly hilarious. Get a buddy to time their repairs before you pull down what they just built onto the next wave and you’ve got a no-ammo-needed effective strategy.

But players can really only play the same maps so many times before it starts getting a little boring, right? It is just another entry in to the wide world of Firefight-esque modes, after all. Armageddon does its best to mix it up, though. Completing certain numbers of waves unlocks new Nano Forge abilities, which can be upgraded through the experience points that carry over from the single player to Infestation and vice versa. So while the waves getting progressively more and more difficult, you’ll be able to prepare yourself with the most powerful weaponry Mars has to offer.

And you’ll need it. Once you survive the waves of enemies in the normal maps, you unlock their Dark versions. The spectacularly literal versions of the maps have all the lights turned off, forcing players to stick together and use their flashlights to light the way through the siege. Wandering into the darkness and away from your team leads to probable death and almost certain blindness. It really does add another level to the required teamwork.

Interestingly, the multiplayer actually has some sort of bearing on the story of Armageddon. It hasn’t been revealed exactly what it will have to do with the Darius’s struggles, but it was hinted that they would be “filling in the cracks” of the story. We played a level that took place in the marketplace through which Darius and his crew had to fight to get back to the surface of Mars. The folks that got stuck down there are struggling to survive, and we can only assume that their success will have some sort of bearing on the rest of the planet’s fate.

If you’re looking to distill down the destruction even further than that, look for the new Ruin Mode. Gone is the pesky story. Stripped out is that annoying need for other players. Why even bother with establishing motivation for why Mason is decimating huge sections of the Martian landscape? All we want is things to go boom. Trying to get the high score involves a combination of bringing down as many buildings efficiently as possible while keeping your multiplier up by hitting the explosive barrels and bringing down multiple buildings at once. We spent a solid amount of time debating the intricacies of the rocket launcher vs the plasma rifle, but ended up deciding that, just as long as we could get a water tower to fall into a massive explosive barrel, which in turn blows down a bridge, we didn’t care. It’s crazy addicting, and with leaderboard support, friends will be fighting for the top spot for a while to come.

So while Guerrilla brought the glorious destruction, Armageddon intends to bring that and them some. With several new modes and a much-touted new storyline, we’re very intrigued as to where it will go.

Apr 15, 2011

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