Red Faction: Armageddon interview | destruction, dinosaurs and aliens
Red Faction: Armageddon’s Geo-Mod 2.0 engine lets you turn buildings into rubble and pull rocks away from cavern walls, for the sole purpose of crushing your enemy. It’d be a waste, then, if all you were up against was dull, boring humans. This situation calls for aliens, prehistoric aliens.
In our interview with Drew Holmes, lead writer on Armageddon, he told us that Volition were looking to move away from the semi-open-world design of Guerrilla. Players complained about the amount of time spent travelling to the destruction in the last game, but that’s unlikely to be an issue for Armageddon:
“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’s happening on our peripheral.”
Volition has made this possible by introducing two key changes: one, they’ve moved most of the action underground, creating an almost claustrophobic feel, and two, they’ve added aliens. Holmes on the ETs:
“So, that’s where these guys come from; we said we wanted a new enemy that is kind of something you’ve never seen before, to make you think about the game in a different way. And we really wanted to focus on and build these enemies to utilise the destruction, and to utilise the cool new weapons we’ve built for the destruction engine. It really evolved from there.”
So, how does this work in practise? Well, humans tend to come from the back of the map and stick to ground level, and that invariably leads to a boring stand-off. Armageddon’s aliens, meanwhile, spawn from the walls and come at you from a multitude of angles and heights. They are unpredictable, forcing you to play more erratically, increasing the likelihood that you’ll destroy a huge tower with a plasma gun. That’s never a bad thing.
The aliens also look the part, with their bony and nimble bodies. They resemble bugs, and they’re described as such in the game, but Holmes revealed to us their inspiration for their design. It turns out they’re more prehistoric than Hemiptera:
“You know, the main concept artist that we used, he’s actually the top dinosaur artist, recreation concept artist. His work has featured in a lot of stuff. So he uses a lot of sinewy, bony and very nimble like stuff, and so he initially came up with a couple of creature designs that we really latched on to. We thought those look really cool and unique.”
It’s generally the smaller and medium sized aliens who are inspired by dinosaurs; the bigger aliens tend to look more like trolls. These designs came from outside Volition:
“… we got some stuff from other companies that had sent us some concepts for some of the bigger brutish guys. We got a nice range of stuff, and a really cool silhouette, so if you see an enemy in the distance, you immediately know which one that is, so you can tailor your attack. You can go: ‘I’ll take that guy out because he has the explosive weapons; this guy is the quick one, so I’ll take him our rather easily as long as this guy’s dead.’”
One thing’s for sure, you’ll always see the aliens. They are neon coloured, making them easy to spot. That’s a relief. The last we need in a dark, underground passage is to be attacked by a pack of hard-to-see aliens. The prehistoric, raver kinds are much kinder on the nerves.
You can read the rest of our Drew Holmes interview here.