The open world genre is doubtlessly one of the most competitive in gaming. GTA comes to the table with heritage and sophistication. Just Cause offers a downright wacky time. Red Dead took a turn for the gritty.
So where does that leave THQ and Volition's Red Faction? Smashing up every morsel of the environment as skyscrapers crash down all around them, that's where. Because when it comes to sheer destruction, the rest of the pack struggle to keep up.
Having enjoyed favourable review scores and a warm commercial reception for RF: Guerrilla, Volition is now gearing up for the release of sequel Armageddon in May.
The game takes place 50 years after Guerrilla on Mars itself, where a long-dormant race of Martian creatures has awoken and is causing havoc. Thus the name.
We caught up with the title's executive producer Jim Boone to discover more about what Armageddon will offer - and Volition's ambitions for the game...
Red Faction is an open world game that prides itself on constant destruction. Did the success of Just Cause 2 fill you with delight in a genre that usually takes itself pretty seriously?
No doubt. The way we look at it, particularly with Guerrilla and then the Saints Row series, is that we love to see more of those games come out in the genre. Our thought is that we have a lot of fun with this genre - it's fun for us to develop these types of games.
So the more games that are out there of that kind helps strengthen what we're doing, the better. That goes particularly with what's happening with the Saints Row series right now, because with Armageddon we've gone a little more in terms of linear progression again compared to Guerrilla. It's definitely rewarding to see that in other games and I hope it continues.
Why have you decided to take the series in more of a linear direction than Guerrilla? Not that Armageddon is completely linear in the traditional sense...
Right, but its definitely more so than Guerrilla. When we were starting work on Armageddon, we looked at what we could do to help improve - what things people liked, so we could do more of it, and then looking at what people didn't like as much. Things people liked when we talked to them were weapons, destruction, the vehicles... but we found that people would describe [the progression] as sort of a monotonous exercise. They'd get in the vehicle, go through the kind of feature-less area to get to the next place, where then they could have fun again blowing stuff up.
The problem we had was that we weren't able to create a world that was as dense as say, a Saints Row, where it's just wall-to-wall buildings and you can go blow up everything, because the hardware just can't handle that sort of thing, it's not made to do that sort of thing. So we had to have the more feature-less in-between - but in so doing we sacrificed a few monotonous moments.
So our though was: "If we start to bring all these things together and get rid of these gaps, we're improving the game - we're giving people what they're talking about, what they really love about Red Faction." That was the biggest reason we ended up changing it.
[THQ boss] Danny Bilson has said that no-one can compete with Red Faction's destructibility. Is it really that much of a unique selling point?
I think it is. We've worked so hard on that engine for so long, that I think it is our kind of calling card - our special hook that no-one else does quite as well. But having said that, now we're on the fourth game in the series. One of the things we really embraced on this game was not relying too much on the technology and have that be the whole of the experience - seeing these amazing buildings come crashing down etc. - we really didn't just want to centre on that.