[Interview] Jasen Whiteside Talks ARMAGEDDON

Red Faction fans: we've got some more insight on Volition's new third-person shooter. There will be destruction -- fear not!
Author: Ryan Green
Published: January 31, 2011
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As a young PC gamer (yes, we all have that awkward phase in our life, but we grow out of it), I was fortunate enough to enjoy a little game called Red Faction. Since those good-old-days, the Red Faction series has seen a plethora of changes, mostly dealing with the specifics of the gameplay. From where it originated, the first-person shooter focused extensively on the amount of environmental destruction you could cause, land deformation, and the impressive (at its time) glass shattering. Breaking windows never was so much fun!

While Red Faction 2 maintained that first-person perspective, it wasn't until 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla that the franchise took an interesting turn. The game truly opened up, letting you romp around Mars and completely decimate buildings at will, at the cost of the terrain damage that we grew up with. Volition really gave Rockstar a run for their money with an actual competitor in the open-world game market, having a game that didn't have terrible gun mechanics.

And like the surface of Mars itself, the franchise was altered again with the introduction of Red Faction: Armageddon. We didn't know what to think when it was first revealed, but the office was abuzz regardless. Recently, I sat down with Jasen Whiteside from Volition to help clear the air and give us a better insight on impending doom... and we also talked about Armageddon.

Since the revealing, Red Faction: Armageddon has been poised as this serious and dark game. The phrase “Red Space” was kicked around a lot, for sure, but I've been seeing a bit more variety in the presentation. What kind of tone are you trying to set for this entry?

Jasen Whiteside: You know, I guess there's not a singular tone. We kind of change it over the course of the game. Because, at the beginning, we give you a flashback kind of mission - set some of the history for the character that is not covered inside the sci-fi origins. You know, help bridge the gap between Guerrilla and Armageddon. And during that point, you're still in the military. But as you go through, [the story] gets pretty dark. You've unleashed this “armageddon,” and then you have to try and fix it. You have a lot of scenarios in the game where you're not really thought too highly of by the rest of the humans and you've got the marauder cultists against you... there are times where, pretty much, it feels like everything is working against you. Of course, we try to give you a good finale and some good reasoning and some good, hard choices as you're going through the game, to justify the story and what's happening.

So you start out as a goody-goody?

Yeah. Yeah - you almost immediately fall from grace. It's like the second mission, you're pretty much out.

Still, Armageddon looks even less like your typical Red Faction game, even considering where your last game put us. When did the game transform into what we have today? Was this planned from the get-go, or did things just naturally evolve this way?

A lot of the planning happened early on [in Armageddon's development]. But there were some changes that happened over the course of the game that helped to push the kind of direction we ended up with, a lot of it being adjustments to the story, adjustments to the enemies, just really trying to make it a much more compelling story and game experience for the player. Yeah - it definitely deviates from Guerrilla in that way. You're of an - I don't know - are you the anti-hero? I guess not so much; you were kind of the anti-hero in Guerrilla, but looked up to much more in Guerrilla then you are in Armageddon, for the majority of it.
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