Snugly tucked away in a spacious function room atop Guinness’ impressive storehouse, THQ was good enough to permit our warped minds a few, visceral turns with Red Faction: Armageddon’s multiplayer.
Red Faction, also known as the games where you can smash everything. Everything.
So I dutifully sat down before a monstrous screen, headphones vacuum-sealing my ears, fingers itching to trigger some spectacular chain reactions. I selected the Magnet Gun, twin Banshee hand canons, the matter disrupting Nano Rifle and my trusty sledgehammer.
I called her old painless. The name was ironic.
Following an afternoon well spent with two of Armageddon’s distinct multiplayer experiences, allow me to assure you, if riddling a murderous Martian berserker between the mandibles with a bolt of deconstructing nanites doesn’t relieve your stress, dropping a four story building on one assuredly will!
You like buildings. But you like demolishing them more. Distilling the essence of developer Volition Inc’s sci-fi shooter into snappy one minute bursts, Ruin mode shamelessly offers destruction for the sake of destruction. In other words it gives you exactly what you want.
But on a timer!
Ruin mode takes itself just literally enough as it presents players with a concrete environment and a short period with which you can joyously vent your destructive tendencies while scrambling to rack up the largest bill for property damage you can accumulate.
Considering you have magnet guns, rocket launchers, nano-rifles, mine hurlers, grenade chuckers, plasma casters, particle beams and singularity projectors at your disposal, there’s a wealth of annihilation to be had, a surplus of devastating combos to enjoy and an infinity of points to be racked.
Hammer out some support struts and pepper the collapsing structure with rockets? Literally blast a hut sky high with some mines and incinerate the debris with a plasma beam? Use the trusty magnet gun to quite literally throw a house at another house? Ruin mode’s destructive potential is limited by your imagination and reflexes, you total maniac!
It’s not the focus of the online experience, and ultimately Ruin mode is a simple, arcade style score accumulator, whose competition extends to comparing score to those less, or significantly more, depraved than oneself. However Ruin Mode is precisely the kind of fleshed out Extra that games are crying out for: a diluted snippet of the main adventure that manages to draw you back in again and again.
Most of the time, I don’t actually want to kill my friends. Admittedly, sometimes said murderous intent rears a little too feverously for comfort, but most of the time I’d prefer a more civilised pursuit: Killing things alongside my friends.
Taking its cues from Halo’s Firefight, and Gears of War’s Horde before it, Red Faction: Armageddon joins the popular co-op survival ranks with its Infestation mode. By now you know (and love) the drill. Four plucky humans arm themselves with assorted weaponry, select one of four unique powers (a kinetic shove, a debilitating shockwave, an ability buffer or a protective barrier) and test their wits, and ballistics, against incrementally increasing waves of beasties.
While this merry cooperation of players never gets old, the highly volatile and delicate surroundings crafted by Volition add a sense of spectacle and muscle to proceedings. Once you run out of nano-machines, high velocity rounds, plasma shells or explosive rockets, you can always hit your insectoid foes with a steel staircase.
Or the business end of old painless.
The permutations of complementary defensive and offensive nano-forge attributes add strategic depth, while the narrow, claustrophobic confines of the Martian underground make for intense play. Honestly, if you aim at a corridor you’re bound to hit something.
The benefit of pushing co-operative online play as your preference means beginners aren’t scared away by the prospect of getting their heads blown off by more veteran players and spending most of their time in the waiting lobby or as a ghost camera. Also you’re more likely to return online and make friends when they’re reviving you when you most need it, as opposed to shooting you in the back and yelling ‘noob’ over your headset.
Infestation in particular showcases how much of an action title Armageddon is, with slick controls, fluid animations and, naturally, copious explosions. Combined with the explosive pleasures of Ruin mode, Armageddon could see itself enjoying busy servers and significant online presence come its release on June 3rd.
And it’d deserve them too.