Last week THQ flew myself and a few other journalists out to San Francisco to look at a bevy of their upcoming games. Included in that list was Red Faction:Armageddon and THQ was showing off both the single player and multiplayer portions of the game. I can't talk about the single player portion of the game until Monday but here are the details on the two new multiplayer modes.
One of the gameplay modes that will be available upon the release of Red Faction: Armageddon
is Ruin Mode
. This mode is fairly self explanatory, with the main goal being to wreak architectural havoc in one of five maps available to you using the Geometry-Modification 2.5 engine. Different constructions, as well as your ability to tear them apart in the most effective manner, offer different levels of points. Once you reach the par score for the respective map, the next map in line will be unlocked.
The purpose of Ruin Mode is two-fold. Initially, the gameplay may seem like an entertaining way to experiment with the vast assortment of weaponry that you will come upon in the single player campaign. The rocket launcher, singularity gun and plasma rifle never get nearly as much use as they seem entitled to. After all, huge explosions and disintegrating buildings are never a sight to tire of. However, once the immediate sensation of evil, cackling laughter wears dry, a more complex strategy to playing the game mode is revealed.
Ruin Mode is secretly a role-playing mode in which you take on the vocation of a demolitions expert (but on a strict timeline). After discerning which buildings will garner the most points once destroyed, the challenge becomes both of what weapon to use and what soft spot to target in order to get the most efficient destruction. Being on a very tight time restriction, efficiency means everything in Ruin Mode.
Even seemingly small decisions can have a drastic impact on your accumulated score. My instinct when given a powerfully destructive weapon and an open map in which to brandish it is to run around and shoot everything in sight to watch in joy as buildings and bridges crumble. After a few rounds of unfettered, unguided destructive fun, the thrill of topping the leaderboard will beckon you. At this point, a more comprehensive plan of action will be instigated. Rather than running headfirst into the map while taking advantage of the unlimited ammunition, I became more aware of the towering buildings that were within my sights and firing range. Carefully plotting out points of weakness for each building, every shot is a precise one. Even details such as sacrificing zooming in for more accurate aim in order to spare an extra second can be a tactful advantage.
Ultimately, your success in Ruin Mode depends on your understanding of both the qualitative value of various structures in each map, as well as where to launch your attack and with which weapon. A few rounds of experimenting will culminate in the most efficient and effective demolitions plan.
For a game that encourages destruction and reconstruction of your environment, it’s only appropriate that there would be a mode available to concentrate on taking advantage of the glory of heavy weaponry and the accurate physics of destruction.
Although competitive multiplayer - much to the chagrin of many fans - will not be available in Red Faction: Armageddon, a co-operative four-player mode named Infestation
will be. The survival co-op mode plays very much like the horde mode many other shooters adopt. For up to 30 waves per each of the eight levels, the enemies you’ve befriended in the campaign will make recurring appearances here. Enemies range from sprawling Ravagers to beastly Behemoths all swarming at you and your teammates in packs.
Infestation mode functions as more than just extra gameplay. The mode fills the gaps in storyline of the single player campaign; a decision in its design that is meant to create a cohesive storyline package. Throughout the storyline elements, you can play as one of four characters: Sergeant Frank Winters, his brother Snipes who is an expert at long-range combat, a Marauder named Corvallis who has put aside his differences with the colonists to fight the alien threat, and, finally, a colonist named Snake, known for rejecting Red Faction’s attempts at recruiting him.
The waves of enemies, and your team’s retaliative response while armed to the teeth, will as expected create a hectic, chaotic environment. The resulting clouds of debris and smoke from your heavy weaponry can even become overbearing at points of time, constricting your view of the horde of enemies entrapped in it. Fortunately, given the tight confines of the underground cave system built by the refugees of Mars’ now uninhabitable surface, even blind shooting is guaranteed to have some benefit, especially without the worries of friendly fire. Although the swarms of seemingly ceaselessly spawning enemies may seem daunting, nothing is more gratifying than knowing your rockets and plasma cannon have damaged more than just one enemy.
Infestation allows you to put your entire arsenal of weaponry and Nano Forge abilities to good use. Although ammunition is placed around each map, you’ll have to conserve your ammo if you want to trump your teammates’ kill scores. Because the co-operative mode is fast paced, it typically becomes a game of who can reach the enemies and, intermittently, the ammo packs quickest.
The chaotic battles in Infestation keep your finger practically glued to the trigger. The requisite to dealing with the chaos and limitations of ammunition became to alternate between abilities and weapons. For me, this often included barraging a Behemoth with rockets until its attention became focused on me. By the time my round was empty and the Behemoth within melee range, my personal favorite Nano Forge ability - Impact - was the perfect response. Shooting out a blast of energy into the enemy just as its health is depleting is the necessary strike to finalize the kill. While this battle performance was occurring, one helpful teammate took on the task of reconstructing some of the interior of the cave we had just finished destroying in an attempt to create cover for us. This becomes particularly useful when playing the latter group of maps, which have the added objective of defending target structures. Working as a team, you can decide who will be protecting the structure while the others fend off the infestation.
Infestation and the gameplay mechanics of the game as a whole are conducive to cooperative teamwork. With so many abilities and weapon types available to us, it’s the prefect opportunity to use them all simultaneously. Someone may throw down a Shell (or force field) for every one's protection while someone else puts an enemy in stasis with Shockwave to have another teammate take the opportunity to tear the docile enemy to shreds with a weapon of their choosing.
Teamwork becomes even more paramount once you unlock the dark setting of each level. You will play to survive or defend in complete darkness, save for your personal flashlight. Abandoning your teammates here will quickly leave you surrounded by aliens shrouded in darkness with not much hope for survival. As a team, however, your light source is shared and therefore more powerful.
With up to 30 waves of enemies in this horde mode, it’s the perfect chance to level up quickly. You can easily access ten or more upgrades from completing just one map. These upgrades are shared between the multiplayer and single player experiences, meaning that you won’t be stuck grinding to gain your abilities again. Probably the best feature of this mode for those who are less inclined to spend 30 waves back to back is the ability to start waves wherever you last left off. Congratulations, you can officially treat yourself to a bathroom break.
Red Faction: Armageddon releases on May 31st of this year in North America on the PC, 360 and PS3. Look out for our upcoming preview of the single player campaign on Monday.