Red Faction: Armageddon interview | the ‘summer blockbuster, popcorn, action-flck’
In Red Faction: Armageddon, you’re equipped with physics-based super weapons and a licence to destroy everything; it’s a vandal’s paradise. Factor in a few hundred extraterrestrials and you’re possibly looking at one of 2011’s summer hits.
We recently cornered Drew Holmes in a small hotel room to probe him on Volition’s philosophy for the sequel. Holmes, lead writer on Armageddon, told us that the studio is focusing on the “action epic”, the “Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones blockbuster kind of stuff”, and he’s not kidding.
In our hands-on session there wasn’t a moment’s rest; the tempo was ferociously high, and nothing like the sedate, almost touristy feel of Guerrilla (not that Mars is known for its sights). It’s quite a change, but Holmes explained why action is best policy for the Red Faction series:
“The things that we did in Guerrilla that we were really successful with were the destruction and the combat, but the problem was we were giving you these amazing sequences in Guerrilla, all this destruction and all this fantastic action, but when they were done all the buildings would be knocked over and you’d go: ‘now what?’ You had this big open world expanse and you spent so much time driving looking for the next thing to do. We don’t want to do that again for Armageddon.”
And of course, the team has this fantastic game engine, Geo-Mod 2.0, which allows for almost total destruction of the environment. When you can have such scope to destroy, you don’t want to be spending your time driving across various shades of brown — action, action, and more action suits the series better. Holmes said:
“So we decided to go for a much more focused approach to our combat and to our destruction, making sure that everything is designed with destruction in mind, everything is focused on destruction being an element of the gameplay and the focus of the gameplay and not the stuff that is happening on our peripheral.”
The new action focus has led to the introduction of aliens. They’re not the big-brained Martians from films of yesteryear, they come in all different shapes, sizes and colours – usually with a neon glow. There are fast, nimble aliens who cling to the ceilings and leap from the walls and there are big, bruiser ETs who come at you with the sole intention of crushing your skull.
You’re guaranteed to get overwhelmed with so much happening, and you’ll start firing your weapons at anything that moves, and ultimately, you’ll cause destruction in the process. It’s what Volition wants:
“So that’s where these guys come from. We said we wanted a new enemy that’s kind of something you’ve never seen before, to make you think about the game in a different way, and really kind of focus on and build these enemies to utilise the destruction, and utilise the cool new weapons we’ve built for the destruction engine. It’s really evolved from there.”
We have one concern, though: doesn’t this all sound a bit one-paced? The level we played didn’t do much to convince us otherwise. Holmes did however try to reassure us:
“As I said before, the game really shines when it is action packed. But there will certainly be more moments of down-time and we’re not going to be screaming in your face the whole time with action. There will be moments when you go off and look for some collectibles and some side paths and what-not, but you know, we were really focused in bringing that summer blockbuster, popcorn, action-flck.”
One thing is for sure: Armageddon has an edge thanks to Geo-Mod 2.0. Simply put, none of Volition’s competitors have anything quite like it. Even if it turns out to be one-paced, Geo-Mod 2.0 will ensure that it is one chaotic ride.
“Yeah, you know. We’re really proud of it. We spent a lot of years building this engine and it’s something you’re not going to find anywhere else and in any other game. Just building the gameplay and the weapons to take advantage of it, I think we’re really proud of it.”
And so they should be.