The demolition minigames from the previous Red Faction game have been reworked into a stand-alone Ruin mode. Rather than being more of the same though, it's set to be a big improvement thanks to the addition of the Magnet Gun, which if you read my recent preview of the single player game, you'd know is the new toy that every big kid should want.
The object of Raid is to destroy as much as possible in the time limit and score big by destroying structures in combo chains. Beat the par score to unlock the next stage, or keep hitting retry to climb the online leaderboards.
I got to demolish just the one stage during my hands-on with this mode. Unlike what I played of the story mode, this took place outside, on the surface of Mars at what looked like some sort of power station. Lots of chimney stacks, buildings, bridges, car-sized gas canisters and pylon-like steel towers are all used to grind the stage into dust.
Mastering the magnet gun is the key to success. Use this mad terrorist version of the gun from Portal to fire an anchor at one target then an attractor at a second to send the first object crashing towards the second point. If the object is heavy enough, it'll destroy anything in its path. Destroying multiple structures in brief periods of time is the way to really rack up those combo points. Some objects, like the gas canisters are really sensitive, so make sure they won't clip a fence on their way to a targeted building, unless you want a premature explosion in no man's land.
The scoring seems to be quite inconsistent. On two separate attempts I got wildly different results. First attempt, I destroyed most of the level in the time allocated and was awarded 15 million points, second time around I destroyed even more, in less time and was awarded 5 million. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it. Better signposting is needed to tell you why your points aren't sky rocketing despite the complete mayhem you're causing.
There are a few problems with the magnet gun that aren't as apparent when running through the story mode's underground tunnels and tighter environments. The main issue is the distance that the gun can reach a secondary target isn't as long as you'd want, often causing you to lose time as you desperately search for a new attractor point. Targeting the steel towers (see picture below) that are made up of narrow pieces of metal is annoying because you have to perfectly aim at one of the pieces, as your target reticule greys out over the tiny gaps, even when you're just trying to send a large object directly into the tower. It insists on utter precision which is a bit redundant, when you're throwing a building at something so small.
Guns like the tornado gun and nano rifle digitally disintegrate materials from the environment rather than destroying them, unfortunately this means that you'll earn a pathetic amount of points. Their only real use is making a quick and efficient hole in the wall when you need to get through quickly. Sure you could use rockets, but you might have to stumble over a bit of rubble to get through, losing precious seconds.
Your main weapons -until more are unlocked, maybe- are the rockets and the magnet gun. Combine the two to blitz the scene and rack up that multiplier bonus. The destruction is impressive when it all comes together, not that you'll have time to gawp at any of it though if you want to beat your friends' scores.
It's hard to judge the Ruin mode, based on the one map, but it has the potential to be a fun distraction, if not immediately accessible as far as getting a decent score goes. You'll need to learn the layout of the maps, spot the best points to link explosions and work out a route to navigate the perfect path of destruction.