Hands-On: Red Faction: Armageddon

John Funk | 20 Jan 2011 12:00
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Living on Mars must suck.

I mean, first there's the scenery: It's red, red, red everywhere you go. Then, there's the oppressive Earth-born government trying to make your life a living hell. So maybe you eke out a living and manage to make it through day after day somehow ... and then an apocalyptic event (I hear cataclysmic events are in vogue these days) forces you and the other survivors to flee the surface into the tunnels and mines worked by your ancestors. Oh, and you accidentally unearth horrific alien monsters that infest and ravage what little environment remains.

Talk about your streaks of bad luck. Unfortunately, that's the world faced by Darius Mason, grandson of Red Faction: Guerrilla star Alec Mason. Two generations after the events of Guerrilla, the Martian population lives underground after an apocalypse ravages the surface of the Red Planet. Things go from bad to worse when they, like the Dwarves of Moria, delve too deep and unleash swarming parasitic aliens. They go from worse to "aw, we're screwed" as a group of seemingly-suicidal cultists take a shot at the Terraformer that's the one thing keeping life on Mars even remotely habitable. Step up to the plate, Darius, you've got a world to save.

Red Faction: Armageddon differs from previous games in the series in two major ways. While the game's senior producer Jim Boone told The Escapist that "approximately 20% of the game" takes place on the surface of Mars, the vast majority of Armageddon is spent underground - previous Red Faction titles had underground segments, but they were hardly a major part of the piece. "There are only so many different ways we can make red-rock Mars look like something other than red-rock Mars," said Boone. "So by moving it underground it gave us the ability to do a ton of different new looks, new palettes - we can have magma areas or ice areas, to name some."

Though earlier games did also have nonhuman combatants in the form of mutated enemies in the first Red Faction and "nano-zombies" in Red Faction II, Armageddon is the first to feature genuine alien creatures. When asked if they were actual aliens from another world or merely indigenous to Mars, Boone said they preferred to leave it partly up to players' imaginations: "We never really tell you. What we do is - for the really hardcore fans who are totally invested in the series - we hint towards their origins. I don't want to spoil anything yet but particularly if you played Red Faction 1 ... we definitely give some pretty heavy hints to the player."

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