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Red Faction Armageddon – Hands-on Preview

I was there from the beginning with the Red Faction series
when it premiered on the Playstation 2. 
That first game was released a decade ago, and had the then-revolutionary
feature of “Geo-mod” technology, which is fancy talk for being able to distort
the environment when you used explosives. 
In the first game, this was used far too sparingly, with only a few
areas where players had the means, and motivation to blast their way through large
sections of the terrain.  However,
when the second Red Faction came out, it had significantly more opportunities
to blow holes through things that got in your way.  Not so long ago, the
series took this to the extreme with Red Faction Guerrilla where pretty much anything standing could be knocked
down.  Now, the franchise is back
with the ultimate incarnation of this gameplay premise: Red Faction
, a game where blowing up
everything you see is just the start of the fun.

Armageddon doesn’t just let you destroy things, you also
have the ability to Repair stuff as well. 
Your character has an alien device, which provides several useful
functions.  One is the repair tool
or “Nano Forge”, which will let you reconstruct anything you previously blew
up.  This can be done for the fun
of re-blowing up things a second time, however it can also be used to
reconstruct useful areas, after you wrecked them taking out enemies.  Because Armageddon has a cover system,
the Nano Forge can also be used to create cover when you’re caught in the open
and suddenly under fire. There’s a kitchen sink approach to the nano tool,
as it also gives you a  few other
powers as well, including a sort of telekinetic push.

Of course it wouldn’t be any fun at all rebuilding things,
unless you had the capacity to destroy stuff on a massive scale.  In Armageddon, you have a very powerful
arsenal of weapons, and destruction will be waged on a scale generally not seen
in other first person shooters. 
You get weapons like the Plasma Beam which will let you cut through
buildings like they’re tomatoes, and other weapons can fire balls of energy
that will punch a hole through just about anything on the map- then keep on
going until it has smashed holes through a couple of other things too.  Much like an 88 magnum, “It shoots through schools”.

During a demo at the Penny Arcade Expo East, I got to try a
sandbox mode in which I could run around blowing things up in a sort of
challenge stage where I was scored for how much destruction I could manage
within a set period of time.  This
was a chance to try out the heavier weapons like the Plasma Beam which let me
quickly slice through the bottoms of tall buildings.  Doing so would cause the entire structure to collapse, granting
me a high score for a quick shot. 
It’s very easy to imagine how that sort of tactic would work on snipers
in a the campaign mode. 

Also handy in this sort of rampant destruction was the
game’s Magnet Gun which allowed me to shoot a magnetic charge at one building
(Say a huge tank of fuel), then shoot a second magnet at another building (Such
as the supports under a bridge), and the two magnets would pull the tank of
fuel right into the bridge, as though the tank weighed nothing.  Needless to say, if an enemy had been
standing between the two buildings, they would have been crushed, and clever
players will be able to find all sorts of innovative ways to use this.

Also available for a test drive was the LEO Exo-suit, a
ten-foot tall set of powered robot armor. 
It comes with its own set of firepower, including a machine gun and
rockets, but the most fun was the charging punch ability that I could use to
plow through walls.  The exo-suit
couldn’t use the weapons I carried as a human, and frankly didn’t have the same
sort of destructive potential as the magnet gun, for example.  However the Red Faction series has
always used vehicles to good effect, and I’m sure that the game will make good
use of this mech.

Aside from the sandbox mode I tried, Red Faction
has a single-player campaign, as well as the trendy new “Fight off the
endless horde” mode.  It comes out
May 31st For PC, XBox and Playstation.

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