Red Faction Armageddon Review

Game developers always scratch their heads at how to make their new title stand out from the crowd of grey and brown third person shooters. In 2009 Volition succeeded by utilizing their next generation engine, Geomod 2.0 in Red Faction: Guerrilla. This allowed the developers to create massively destructible environments in a massive open world, letting the player loose and having the game be their own virtual playground of destruction. Red Faction: Armageddon is a complete U turn in design philosophy, with many of the single player levels being linear and a good deal of the start of the game being set in a cave fighting Martians despite the fact that the game is perfectly capable of being a rare and original third person shooter.


Meet Darius Mason, the most generic looking character ever.

The basic narrative of the game is that it’s a direct sequel to Red Faction: Guerrilla set a number of years into the future. You take control of Darius Mason, grandson to Alec Mason who was the protagonist of Red Faction: Guerrilla. Darius has next to no discerning features aside from he’s bald and has a love interest who is one of the most shallow, one dimensional characters I have ever seen in a game. Darius and Kara’s strife to save Mars from an insectoid race comes across very disjointed as cutscenes only play after missions, with next to no voice acting or storytelling while the mission is going on, or even any hints of character depth in the missions. Which in 2011 with titles such as The Witcher 2 and Uncharted 3 is very near inexcusable, for Red Faction to play with the big boys, they have to act like and even excel beyond the other AAA titles.

Red Faction: Armageddon does gameplay well… some of the time. The game shows some flashes of brilliance with some missions and falls flat on it’s face in many others. The singular reason for these signs of brilliance are the amazing destruction capable weapons. In particular the Magnet Gun is one of the most innovative guns since the portal gun. The magnet gun works by shooting it once to create an “Anchor” onto a surface, and shooting it again to pull away an object and attract it to the “Anchor”. The feeling you get when you pull an entire building down, throwing it into another building that falls and lands onto a gas canister and leaving the entire area completely covered in debris from one single action is immensely satisfying. Unfortunately in the single player campaign this situation happens rarely. There are destructible objects present that help you kill enemies in very creative ways using a combination of weapons such as the magnet gun and various other original weapons that Volition have come up with, they all feel satisfying to shoot and they all control and feel superb within the game.

Aside from the main Campaign mode there are many other modes present within the game, such as Infestation Mode which is pretty much a horde mode with Red Faction’s weapons and maps. You and up to 3 more players are up against endless waves of martian enemies and team skills to overcome each wave of enemy one at a time, with the player able to purchase upgrades in between waves to combat to help increase you and your team mates chances of survival.  However Red Faction: Armageddon differentiates itself from the rest of the third person shooter crowd by including Ruin Mode, where you play to basically blow stuff up and attain the highest possible score in a limited amount of time. Ruin Mode is extremely addictive, I found myself pushing my score higher and higher as I chose my special weapons selection and switching quickly due to time limits. There is a multiplier that goes up to 100% initially, and after which you have to maintain it by going into 2x and scoring double points for all the destruction you have caused. The maps for Ruin mode are varied and provide a great deal of different ways to approaching each of them in order to attain the highest score, with the addition of  leaderboard rounding out what truly is an amazing addition to to the game and one that will certainly keep players coming back for more.

All in all, Red Faction: Armageddon feels like Volition did not really know what to do, or where to aim. Red Faction’s biggest highlight was the destructible environments but they fail to capitalize upon that in the lengthy and boring single player campaign, the multiplayer however is fantastic and utilizes the finely crafted physics engine and the game’s best weapons to it’s full potential. With a little bit more polish and a better single player campaign Volition could have had something special on their hands instead we are left with a game that feels very misguided and much like an uncut and rough diamond.

Red Faction: Armageddon (Published by THQ) is available on X360, PS3 and PC now

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