Red Faction: Armageddon Review

Red Faction: Armageddon does a couple things very well. Firstly, the environment is highly destructible, meaning if you have that not-so-rare desire to see stuff blown up, you came to the right game. Secondly, the weapons in the game are awesome and cause some incredible demolition. Technically these two elements of the game go hand-in-hand, but it’s downright fun to blast a group of aliens by using your magnet gun to topple a building or two. While the single-player campaign and writing leave quite a bit to be desired, the online mini-games and sheer enjoyment of hacking away at aliens in the caves of Mars helps make Armageddon a thrilling experience.

You play as Darius Mason, part of the “first family of Mars.” Much of your time is spent in the caves of Mars, but if you are worried about spelunking on the red planet, you should know the indoor environments are relatively open. This allows you to use your killer weapons in an area that feels a bit restricted, but then again you do have some walls to keep the destruction in one place.

Mason takes on dangerous jobs like a duck to water. Whether he carries heavy weapons or operates a mech, he knows how to get around under the surface of Mars while taking care of foes. There is a story here that has to do with a chap named Adam Hale and a race of ancient aliens, though the whole affair gets lost in dull cut-scenes and uninspired dialogue. Chances are you won’t care for any of the characters, even Darius, but if you never care much for stories, you won’t feel cheated by the lack of attention put on the supporting cast.

If you can get past the underwhelming story and dialogue, you can jump in and enjoy what the game does right. Destructible environments are always cool, and you can blow up just about every conceivable aspect of Armageddon’s environments. What’s even better is the use of this destructible environment as a weapon. The basics allow you to topple over buildings on a group of baddies, but once you take the game a bit deeper you’ll be able to smash the insect-like aliens against the ceiling or make two walls collide on a group of enemies, creating a giant vice grip.

You get a pretty stellar arsenal of weaponry throughout the game. Not only do you get the basic duel pistol, shotgun, and riffle, but you also get a plasma cannon, beam, thrower, and the signature weapon—the magnet gun. As the environmental damage is the game’s highlight, the levels underground, especially in tight corridors, end up playing like a traditional third-person shooter, and that’s really too bad. For instance, there are too many instances where you are forced to attack swarms of aliens crawling around the ground, walls and ceilings. That sounds fine, but it would have been great to put the destructible terrain mechanics to better use during these sections. As such,  a lot of Armageddon’s levels come off feeling slightly dull and overly repetitive. Vehicle combat is pretty enjoyable however, and again highlights the game’s awesome environmental destruction.

On the whole, Armageddon is a fairly linear experience. When you are underground in the caves and you have only one direction to go (generally towards the light) you sort of feel like the game is holding your hand. Luckily things get better the further you progress. Boss battles keep things interesting and generally take advantage of Mason’s nanoforge (almost like magic), in particular his reconstruction ability. This allows you to rebuild just about anything you or your enemies destroy. In boss battles, for instance, you may need to rebuild your cover sources. You can also rebuild the ground after you cranked a hole in it to eliminate a swarm of enemies.

While the single-player campaign’s pacing and repetitive level design are a bit of a letdown, the multiplayer modes are quite fun. Unfortunately the online mode is a bit too limited. The Infestation mode is, as it sounds, similar to Zombie mode in Call of Duty. You and up to four players must survive an infestation of aliens in various waves. This mode is decent, but nothing you haven’t seen before. By far my favorite part of the game was Ruin mode, which allows you to completely obliterate your surroundings. You are awarded points for your destruction and the basic goal is to land a high score. This may sound boring, and while it’s certainly not something you’ll play for hours on end, it’s still fundamentally enjoyable to blow stuff up.

Armageddon is at its best when you can destroy everything around you, and is at its worst when you are required to simply dispatch hordes of aliens with your pistols. Yes, the story is a bit bland and the dialogue is downright odd at times, but the core action is pretty fun. Armageddon doesn’t offer anything that will profoundly change the way you think about gaming – after all, destructible environments and vehicle-based combat is nothing new – but it does offer a decent campaign and enjoyable online component, limited as it may be. The graphics and audio aren’t going to win any awards, though fortunately the action is devoid of any major glitches – overall, the aesthetics are merely rather bland. Fans of the previous Red Faction games and those of you who just enjoy unleashing destruction upon your surroundings are sure to find Armageddon a worthwhile investment, however.



The Final Word

Red Faction: Armageddon takes destructible environments and turns it into a weapon, perfect for those who like massive devastation. While the single-player campaign is a bit bland and linear, the action is still top notch.