There’s a song that goes “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” For the sake of being on topic, let’s say a videogame character is the modern-day Shakespeare behind those heart-rending, tear-jerking lyrics. As a videogame character, he can do quite a lot. Grapple up mountains, drive cars off said mountains, steal planes and then leap out of them to steal better planes, etc. “Anything,” one might say. However, he still won’t – or really, can’t – do “that.” What is “that,” you ask? Well, anything that actually matters, to be honest.
Sure, when playing games like Grand Theft Auto, Just Cause 2, or Red Faction: Guerrilla, I can mow down crowds of people like they’re an unruly, weed-ridden lawn, but – like actual plants and unlike actual people – they grow back. And if I die, I grow back too. I can cause traffic pile-ups so large they’d fill three nights-worth of evening news programs or send entire buildings crashing to the ground, but when I turn around, everyone’s come back to life and moved on with said lives. The only time I can ever do anything that “matters” is during scripted, generally linear missions. But those run so contrary to the message of “freedom” open-world games proudly trumpet that they may as well be from separate games entirely.
The end result? The game world feels false – less like an actual living, breathing place and more like a theme park where half the rides are out of order. It’s not convincing and – in some cases where story and non-story gameplay clash, ala Grand Theft Auto IV – serves to yank the player right out of the experience.
Last year’s Red Faction: Guerilla was the best kind of pleasant surprise, literally blowing away our expectations with its go-anywhere, destroy-everything approach to sci-fi rebellion. The fact that the main character bore more than a passing resemblance to Jason Statham also didn’t hurt. The fact that he swung a two ton hammer around like it was made of paper mache, however, did. As in, it hurt enemies. A lot.
And now the game’s getting a sequel, which has us doing a thematically appropriate happy dance in the form of a modified (read: awful) version of the dance seen in M.C. Hammer’s “Hammer Time.” Due for release next March, Red Faction: Armageddon sees an ancient race of aliens drive humanity underground. Playing as Darius Mason, grandson of Jason Statham Alec Mason, you’ll lead a resistance movement against your spiky, toothy foes, reconstructing old technology and using something called a “Magnet Gun” as you go.
Exciting, right? Well, yes and no. Armageddon sounds like it’ll be more like the first two Red Faction games in many ways (underground mine setting, etc.), meaning it probably won’t follow the open-world format established by Guerrilla. Problem is, Guerrilla was at its best when you were driving cars through buildings, hammering foes like they were crooked nails, and just generally wreaking havoc. Take all that away and you have a set of barely above-average shooter levels.
Right now, THQ is describing Armageddon as a “shooter,” which – combined with the underground setting -- has us a bit worried. Hopefully our fears will be put to rest during next week’s E3 conference, but for now, why not watch the game’s trailer and judge for yourself?
Rebellions are messy business, but so long as you’re the one junking up the place, they can be pretty fun. This is especially true if your “junking” tool of choice is a giant, building-busting hammer. Don’t believe us? Just try playing Volition’s 2009 sleeper hit Red Faction: Guerrilla.
Don’t dally around on Mars’ infinitely destructible surface for too long, though. In a recent investor call, THQ announced a sequel to Red Faction: Guerrilla, which is set to drop during the publisher’s fiscal 2011 – which begins on April 1, 2010.
We think it’s fairly safe to assume the game won’t be kicking out the supports from under our free time until after June, however, since it’s on tap to be unveiled at E3 2010. Here’s hoping this gives developer Volition plenty of time to expand its arsenal of avian weaponry. After all, the Ostrich Hammer was a nice start, but even punting people into orbit using a large, flightless bird gets boring after a while.
We love the PC as much as more than anyone ever, but even we’ll admit that consoles play host to some top-notch games. Two of our recent favorites? Resident Evil 5 and Red Faction: Guerrilla. However, for those of you who haven’t started roaming the street corners, searching for some console lovin’, there’s still hope. Both games are making their PC debuts this September.
First up, Resident Evil 5’s shambling our way on September 14, with support Nvidia’s 3D Vision hardware. You’ll also have access to new costumes, and an upgraded version of the game’s Mercenaries mode.
Red Faction, meanwhile, is computerizing the revolution on September 15. Unlike its undead-obliterating cousin, Red Faction’s not really bringing anything new to the PC. Who cares, though? It’s a game that allows and encourages the systematic destruction of a small country’s worth of buildings. You’ll buy it, and you will never regret anything ever again.
So, what are your purchasing plans? Resident Evil, Red Faction, both, or neither?
“Never bring a knife to a gunfight” – a wise saying that’s kept Cowboy duels the world over interesting for years. That cardinal rule doesn’t say anything about stone-shattering mining hammers, though, and there’s a very good reason for that. To quote an enemy from Red Faction: Guerrilla: “Snap! Crack! Sounds of brain splattering like wet spaghetti against a wall.” Hey, I never said I was quoting something that came from the poor guy’s mouth.
Battering EDF goons into Mars-flavored space-paste isn’t the only thing my hulking steel hammer does, either. It can render years of architectural progress futile in a few powerful blows, taking chunk after chunk out of buildings until all that remains is splintered scrap. As you can imagine, the practical applications for this futuristic form of Building Neutralization are endless. Wall in my way? Knock it down. Gun emplacement in my way? Knock it down. EDF fortress in my way? Well, you get the idea. But aside from the novelty of being able to run through walls screaming, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch,” the ability to homerun-swing the entire environment around me into chalky dust – to never be impeded or have to take “the long way around” – is incredibly liberating. In fact, other shooters now feel limited and strange to me because they lack that feature.
Clearly, Red Faction developer Volition is onto something here. Completely destroyable structures give me all kinds of new options, keeping missions endlessly fresh. What Volition created, then, is a good, well-implemented game mechanic. It brings me endless amounts of joy and – even more importantly – I can’t imagine playing other games of its variety without it. As much as the game’s destructible environments have been pushed and marketed, they aren’t some big gimmick. In fact, interestingly enough, Red Faction: Guerrilla’s also a perfect example of how to both define and avoid cheap gimmicks – lessons that, if cranky, keyboard-bound gamers are to be believed, are quite important.