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Red Faction: Armageddon "Infestation Mode" Hands-On Preview

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3rd Person: Action

While in San Francisco, I also had a chance to sink my teeth in Red Faction: Armageddon’s Infestation mode. Similar to Gears of War’s horde mode and also quite similar to the Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops in some regards, “Infestation mode” has you and up to 3 friends taking on waves of Red Faction: Armageddon’s multiple enemies. That is “Infestation mode” in a nutshell.

In total, Red Faction: Armageddon features 26 enemies and many of them are part of the onslaught that come haunting you down as you try to make you way through each of the “Infestation modes” 30 waves of enemies. You can choose from 4 available characters (Sergeant Winters, Snipes, Corvales and Snake); and there are 2 objective game types available. The Survival mode is where you are basically trying to hang on for dear life as you take down the enemies. It is mindless but the results are extremely satisfying. Defend mode on the other hand involves quite a bit of strategy. You goal is to defend and repair a structure while also trying to survive and eliminate the enemy. Teamwork and using your special abilities becomes a critical aspect of the game. Of course firing your weapon and running like a mad man also becomes a critical component as well.

When you first fire up the mode and assemble your team, you are tasked with selecting a map and similar to the games “Ruin mode” you are also asked to organize your weapon load-out. Selecting weapons in the game is accomplished with your d-pad. All the basic weapons are available at the onset and more powerful weapons can be unlocked as you progress along in the game and survive the waves of enemies. Whether it a sledgehammer-like weapon used to delivering devastating blows or using your shotgun, all weapons seem to have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

In the early going I tended to stick with the shotgun but I did notice many of the other players using the duel wielding pistol-like weapons. Both weapons pack a punch but I just found the shotgun to a tad more effective in taking down many of the enemies. Our team unfortunately only managed to unlock one weapon (in addition to the basic ones already unlocked) as our team only progressed to the 5th wave. Did I mention “Infestation mode” is frantic and increases in intensity with each wave? That is an understatement as the game becomes quite the challenge after only a couple of waves. I was actually quite surprised with the difficulty and I am hoping when the final version of the game launches, the mode will be a tad more forgiving.

Visually, the maps we played on were decent looking. Most took place underground in cave-like and industrial like settings. It is dark and in some areas it was quite difficult to see. It certainly made be jumpy at times as you never know what is lurking behind you at any given moment. The enemies themselves all seem to have their own unique look about them and the results are fantastic as Red Faction: Armageddon enemies are some of the most gruesomely detailed alien creatures I have seen in quite some time. Also, the detailed environments truly come to life in the game. I also noticed that as the given wave progressed along, the surrounding environments began to take a beating. Rubble and destruction is everywhere as weapon and energy blasts can take their toll on the games surroundings. It was only until about half way through the 3rd wave where I noticed everything around me turning in shambles as we shot, launched and bashed everything in sight. As you progress along and unlock more powerful weapons, like the plasma beam the carnage only amps-up and the results are slick.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the fact ammunition is a plenty in “Infestation mode” as there are weapon caches in nearly every corner of the map. I never found myself desperate for more ammunition as you are in other games of the same ilk. You only get 3-lives per wave, so working together as a team becomes a critical component to surviving the steady stream of enemies. You also have some special moves at your disposal. “Impact” sends a powerful force-like energy blast towards the enemy and launched them back. “Berserk” gives you unlimited ammo and no need to reload your weapon for a brief period of time. “Shockwave” launches the players in the air and holds them in midair almost as if they are frozen. This gives you the opportunity to unload your weapon in them while they are frozen. Another ability, which unfortunately our team did not take advantage of, is “Shell”. Here you create a force field bubble large enough to fit you and a couple of your teammates. Your team can run for cover and head inside the bubble while you are protected from enemy attack. The shell is also great for reviving your teammates when they have fallen.

There are a total of eight maps and we had a chance to play about 3 or 4 of them. You can also pick light and dark variations of each map. As I mentioned there are 30 waves and I will be amazed if anyone makes it even close to 30 waves. The difficulty level drastically increases after about the 4th wave and far too often I was wishing I had more powerful weaponry. The team at THQ tell us that it will take anywhere from 3-4 hours to complete all 30 waves. Fortunately, you can save you progress which is almost unheard of for any horde-like mode. So no longer do you need to set aside a few hours to jump into such mode.

At the end of the day “Infestation mode” plays out much like Gears of War “Horde mode”; however, there are a few wrinkles added to the mix which makes Red Faction: Armageddon “Infestation mode” a somewhat unique experience. While the difficulty level and lack of powerful weaponry available in the early going somewhat hampered the experience for me; at the end of the day, I had lots of fun playing “Infestation mode” and will surely spend hours in this mode when the game arrives on 2011-05-31.


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