Red Faction: Armageddon preview | fighting the Infestation
We are in the marketplace, four of us, and tens of bony, nimble aliens are surrounding us. They’re clinging to the walls and hurling themselves at us, while we’re desperately trying to survive by pumping a truckload of lead into them. It’s dark; the pace is fast; there is destruction everywhere; and we’re having a lot of fun.
We’re playing Red Faction: Armageddon’s recently announced Infestation co-op mode. It is essentially a Gears of War-style Horde mode, which – for non Xbox-owning readers – is similar to Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies, Uncharted 2’s Siege mode and Bulletstorm’s Anarchy mode. It has you fighting wave after wave of aliens (about 30 waves per map) with increasing difficulty the more you kill.
Infestation wouldn’t have worked in Guerrilla, with its wide-open, often empty environments, but Armageddon is a more focussed game (as we explained in last month’s preview). Volition has gone for the action epic approach, meaning big guns, tight environments and (of course) more destruction.
The Infestation levels we’re playing are all underground, where the ceilings are low, the corridors are narrow and the lighting is noticeable through its absence. The maps are big enough that they aren’t awkward to navigate through, but once you start filling them with four humans and tens of aliens, they quickly become cosy (read: uncomfortably claustrophobic).
There isn’t a moment’s rest; after firing a shell into one alien coming at us from the front, we instantly turn round to find another hanging from the ceiling and another four on the ground. They are fast and agile, and we have to keep our wits about us. That means playing as a team.
If an ally falls, we have to make sure we’re close enough to revive him. There are no limits to revives, but you’ll find yourself vulnerable to attacks when reviving fallen comrades. You’ll curse the mate who foolishly goes into kamikaze mode, who throws himself into a crowd of aliens thinking he is God. He isn’t, and it’ll be you who suffers.
Armageddon also has a selection of tasty Nano Forge abilities, which are handy for staying alive. One ability sends out a shockwave that send our enemies flying and there’s another called Berserk, which super-charges our character. The most effective Nano Forge, however, is Shell. This creates a dome around the character(s) giving invaluable protection from the oncoming onslaught.
There is another reason why sticking together is the best policy. When you reach a certain wave, you unlock a new dark version of the map. Volition removes all the light, so you’re left relying on your flashlight and the aliens’ neon-colour-striped bodies as guides. However, if you stick together, there are more light sources, which means more visibility for you and your mates.
Infestation levels are ever evolving: as well as waves becoming increasingly difficult and there being super-terrifying dark versions of the map, there are several weapons and Nano Forge abilities that become purchasable as you move up the waves. So, just as the aliens become more powerful, so do you.
You can purchase these upgrades with Salvage points. These are gained in Infestation and throughout the Singleplayer campaign. If you play through the singleplayer campaign and buy the best upgrades, you can use them in Infestation once you reach a certain wave.
Cool weapons are important to the Armageddon experience. There are pulse grenades and pulse rifles that pack serious firepower, and it won’t be long before you ditch your standard assault rifles and shotguns for these – that is, until you learn about the even more destructible weapons, such as the magnet gun.
The magnet gun is Armageddon’s signature weapon. If you attach one magnet to an object (say a pillar) then another to an alien, you’ll see the object fly through the air and splat the alien. If you time it right, just when there’s a group of them, you can splat a lot of bugs. Just experimenting is very satisfying. If only we did physics experiments like this in school…
The magnet gun would sit perfectly in Bulletstorm; it feels as though there’s unlimited potential for creative killing It’s also the perfect tool for showcasing Volition’s incredible Geo-Mod 2.0 engine. With Geo-Mod 2.0, just about anything in the map to be blown up or pulled apart. This intense destructibility makes Armageddon unique from other titles. Volition knows this, and by turning Armageddon into a more focussed, action-orientated game, they’ve intensified the destruction levels.
It’s done with a sense of fun, too, Volition wants you to play with the environments, and that’s why you’re equipped with fan-pleasing weapons, such as the sledgehammer. For those who didn’t play Guerrilla, the sledgehammer rips through just about anything. It’s also bigger this time. It’s huge – Volition has clearly been studying the Cloud Strife book on proportionally-sizedl weapons. Needless to say, we spent as much time knocking down pillars and buildings as we did whacking aliens.
It’s a good, then, that we have a Nano Forge ability that allows us to reconstruct environments, almost instantly, as if by magic, It’s useful for the times when we go too far, and it plays a big role in Armageddon’s defensive objectives. You see, you aren’t just taking out waves of enemies in Infestation; occasionally you are asked to defend an object or objects from alien assaults. This means staying put, facing the brunt of the attacks and repairing the structures (when/if you ever get downtime). If you’re smart, you’ll use the Shell Nano Forge to protect the object.
We’ve yet to decide whether Infestation will be a mode that keeps us coming back, or if it’ll be nothing more than a side-order to the main course – but we have been playing Infestation for a couple of hours and so far it has us hooked. We’re loving the pace, the chaos and all the destruction, and we enjoy playing as a team and communicating with our friends.
We also like that Infestation ties-in with the singleplayer campaign. These are the missions that we don’t see when playing through the game – the untold stories. When Darius is away fighting in underground Ice Caverns, who is protecting the market from the alien infestation? Well, that’ll be us. Although, we appear to be doing the most damage. Oops!
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