If you care to cast your minds back, you might recall that, in my Red Faction Armageddon hands-on that you had the pleasure of reading on the 12th of March, I rather ineptly hinted that I actually saw more of the game than I was able to talk about at the time. In fact, I specifically said that I couldn’t talk about the third, uh, third of my hands-on. In that hands-on, I discussed the single player mode and the Wrecking Crew-style Ruin mode. You can read that hands-on right here.
This time, however, I’ll be detailing my time with Infestation mode. Infestation is a 4 player multiplayer mode in which you and 3 other gamers battle cooperatively against waves of alien enemies, a la Horde mode from the Gears of War series (and now a great many other series). We spent most of our time in a dark, claustrophobic map that kept all of the action in quite tight areas and it felt great, like the way the game plays was built for the mode itself. There’s no feeling in any other game quite the same as seeing a huge chunk of scenery sail over your head and smash into a group of aliens when they’re about to be upon you.[drop]The aliens themselves are seperated by class and, as you might expect, each class behaves drastically differently and scales from the usual sledgehammer fodder all the way up to the boss-like enemies. I remember one particular moment when, after wading my way through a group of low level enemies with my wonderful sledgehammer, I came face to groin with a monstrous thing called a berserker, who was probably about twice my height and a tank-style enemy. He immediately flattened me. You don’t want to mess with that guy.
This also made me realise that I should probably pay attention to what’s going on around me instead of just wading into fights like a duck to water. Other enemies swarm you, whilst some jump around on the walls and shoot at you, all in all, the different enemy types means you’ll develop tactics for specific ones – such as removing the pillar they’re hanging from, or running away like a little girl when you see a berserker coming for you.
As a result of the claustrophobic map, there was a lot of team work, whether inadvertently or not. It’s difficult not to be helping out the rest of your team when you’re often so close to them anyway and this is backed up by the revival system. Again, similar to Gears of War, when your health is gone you drop to the floor and you’ve got a short amount of time in which you can be revived by another member of your team. You’ll be marked to them and almost every time somebody went down, the rest of the team started making their way to revive them, perhaps due to the points-based reward…
Both the maps I tried whilst playing Infestation didn’t really feature destruction in the same way the multiplayer maps in Red Faction Guerrilla do – there were no large buildings on either the claustrophobic map or the second map, which was a huge open area, and destruction was mostly limited to pillars in the middle of corridors and such rather than huge, map-changing structures. Still, the basic effect of the destruction is still there – you can still burst through these pillars into a group of enemies and immediately sledgehammer them into the floor. Just as in single player, you have a repair gun and repair grenades with no limits on them to rebuild defences.
Another possible problem I discovered was that, whilst the small, claustrophobic map kept the action intense as it was in smaller areas, the bigger, very open map felt considerably less action packed and even a little dull, though as I said, I didn’t spend much time on that particular map so it could very well get more intense as you progress through the waves.[drop2]There also seems to be persistent character customisation in the game. Whilst poking around in the menus, I discovered numerous upgrades, from changing and improving your backpack to increasing your accuracy and giving you short term buffs. The upgrades seemed plentiful, as I counted at least 10 and there could well have been more to unlock. They stretched from things like Autopsy, which causes enemies to drop salvage (which you use to buy upgrades), Dead Eye, which increases accuracy and reduces camera shake whilst zoomed in, to simply improving your damage with small arms and explosives.
You can also purchase and upgrade nano forges, which are essentially the same as backpacks from the previous game, but apparently less interchangeable as you can’t switch mid-life (at least not in Infestation or Ruin modes). These go from the usual, such as Shockwave (self explanatory) and Berserk (increases attack speed and damage) to Shell, which creates a sphere around you that blocks enemy fire and causes enemies in the shell to be attacked by nanites.
In addition to all the skills you can upgrade, before you go into a wave, you can change your weapon load-out, choosing from a collection of slightly less over the top weapons than are available in Ruin mode – things like shotguns, assault rifles, the magnagun, etc. Normal weapons (as far as Red Faction goes).
Overall, I really, really enjoyed Infestation, at least on the smaller map. It’s fast, furious fun that encourages teamwork and triggers that adrenal rush you often get from games, usually after you somehow manage to destroy a berserker with a sledgehammer with some tactical dodging, or perhaps just launched a load of scenery at him with your magnagun. I liked single player, I loved Ruin mode, but my highlight of the Red Faction Armageddon event was definitely Infestation. I still get urges to play it even now, two months later, and am always disappointed when I realise that I can’t yet. If that’s not indicative of a winner, I don’t know what is.