Gone are the days of minor fender-benders sparking the insurgency, and here are the days of blowing aliens up.
I never played Red Faction: Guerrilla, but both Yahtzee and Shamus - who did play it - had a similar complaint: It was all too easy to incite your Martian NPC allies to revolt by, say, gently driving your vehicle of choice into a lamp-post. Given that Armageddon takes place fifty years later - and almost entirely underground - I had to confirm with Volition that these easily-excitable NPCs wouldn't be coming back, right?
"Nope," RFA senior producer (and series veteran) Jim Boone told The Escapist. "That's all gone, actually." With things having deteriorated and subterranean aliens looking to eat your eyeballs, there's no place for morale systems, and pla. "[Everything] is destroyed, so there's really no more morale that would make sense - in the sense that they're the aliens and so you don't have to worry about treading lightly and hoping they don't notice you."
"When you're in the alien area you'd better start blasting because they're going to certainly start attacking you," said Boone - aliens have no patience to just wait around. "So yeah, so nothing like that. Those were some of the finicky things that we had to deal with for sure."
The irritating ally NPCs weren't the only thing that Volition worked to change from Guerrilla. The team worked more on the story, said Boone, and Armageddon does away with the open-world gameplay from the last game in favor of a controlled experience. "[We] love open world. With the Saints Row games, and Red Faction: Guerrilla, it's clear that we're big fans of the genre," said Boone. "But When we talked to a lot of people about the things they really loved in Guerrilla, what we kept hearing were things like, 'we love destruction, we love the combat, we love the weapons' - things like that."
"What people wouldn't talk about as much was getting to it. You have this whole playground, but then you give them a car and they need to drive four minutes to get to the next area. It's a bit tedious ... but then you get to the next area, and then it's fun because you're blowing stuff up, and you're driving cars through buildings and stuff like that!" Since the Red Faction engine meant Volition couldn't build such a close-together world as seen in Saint's Row, the team opted to instead condense the game to an experience where the player wouldn't have "those moments of downtime where you're having to travel from one stop to the other."
Boone also mentioned that while he was partial to the plasma beam weapon in the game - "I always kind of think of it as almost like a gigantic light saber, where I just take this thing and just slice through a building and the whole building comes down, and it's awesome!" - his favorite new toy was the magnet gun, which allows the player to mark a target and then mark a destination - and have Point A hurtle to Point B.
"It was one of those thing that just - you have it for just a few seconds in your hands, and you're immediately like, 'oh my, that's just a ton of fun' ... it's kind of like our version of [Half-Life 2's] gravity gun. I can shoot an alien and fling him into the wall - that'd be pretty cool - but grabbing the wall and ripping it out and smashing it into the alien? That's all the difference in the world."
I don't disagree with that. In fact, the magnet gun is easily one of my new favorite weapons of 2011.