With Red Faction: Guerilla, THQ/Volition took the franchise in a radically different direction, abandoning its FPS roots for a 3rd person sandbox. While the dramatic change caused some gamers to lift an eyebrow, the fact was that Guerilla made a much better 3rd person game than the previous entries did as FPSes. Red Faction: Armageddon looks like it’ll be continuing the trend of bucking expectations as it’s radically shifted its tone and altered its sandbox gameplay in favor of a more intense, story driven game.
Those looking for a direct sequel to Guerrilla may be surprised by Armageddon’s new direction. Much like the huge shift that Guerrilla brought the table, Armageddon does the same, retaining the third person perspective but, from the look of the demo we saw, heavily downplaying the sandbox aspect in favor of more linear gameplay. While Guerilla fans may cry foul, this shift helps put a much heavier focus on the story and helps build Armageddon’s darker, Horror-like mood. Jameson Durall, Armageddon’s Lead Level Designer, took the reins and showed us one of the levels in progress.
Durall quickly introduced us to the game’s new protagonist Darius Mason (son of Guerrilla's Alec Mason), who was making his way through a dark cave attempting to clear the way for an emergency convoy behind him. A quick cutscene shows Darius noticing an Infestation Point, a large tunnel coated with organic goop, as a clear sign that the enemy alien creatures are in the area. Not soon after, he’s attacked by a group of small insectoid creatures named Creepers; they rush at him in numbers but prove to be only a minor threat, as Durall quickly guns them down with Darius's assault rifle.
Durall explains to us that the alien creatures are called “The Plague” and they’re running amok in the underground caverns of Mars, forcing the Red Faction to join forces with their rivals the Marauders, and reclaim their underground home. Once the last of the Creepers are sorted, Durall points out an infested building in the next area; the structure is covered in the same organic looking purple ooze from the Infestation Point. The ooze apparently gives The Plague strength by breaking down the building and eating its component materials; destroying these buildings will be key to reclaiming areas infested with The Plague and will help fight back the infestation. This system of beating back The Plague’s spread has replaced Guerrilla's much grumbled about Morale system, though it’s unclear to what extent. Of course the Plague aren’t going to just sit down and let you stomp them like some overgrown roaches.
No sooner had Darius approached the structure than a group of larger, nastier looking aliens, (Ravagers, Durall told us), appeared spitting some sort of acidic projectile at him. It was clear that with the projectiles coming in left and right, Durall was going to need some cover, and after hiding behind a crumbling wall Durall proceeded to show off the Magnet Gun by shooting a piece of his own cover instead of the enemies. The glowing round from the gun stuck to the concrete, at which point Durall fired another round at an unfortunate Ravager. The first round yanked a chunk of the wall out as it sped towards the other round attached to the Ravager, resulting in a satisfying squish/crunch sound, and one less enemy to worry about.