Red Faction: Armageddon Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Jun 13, 2011

Rejoin the Red Faction and step into the mining boots of the grandson of Red Faction: Guerrilla's hero. After a terrorist act of global cataclysm hits, Mars colonists are forced underground where a new threat is unleashed, and only massive property damage can save them!

The Pros
  • Destruction-focused gameplay is still a ton of fun
  • Magnet gun is cool
  • Looks good
The Cons
  • Run and gun gameplay is way behind the times
  • Only one multiplayer mode
  • Far more linear than the last game

Red Faction: Armageddon Review:

It’s time to get your ass back to Mars, and the only thing that’s missing from Red Faction: Armageddon is for the cheesy dialogue to have actually been voice acted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. THQ and developer Volition are bringing players once more onto the breach with more war on Mars, and fans of Red Faction: Guerrilla will be right at home. In fact, there’s very little here that isn’t instantly recognizable and familiar from the last game.

Join the Mason Family Planetary Janitorial Service!

Armageddon keeps right on trucking with the overall Red Faction storyline. Fifty years after the events of Guerrilla, Red Faction soldier Darius Mason (grandson of the last game’s protagonist, Alex Mason) finds himself stuck in the thick of a planet-wide catastrophe. Darius and crew botch an attempt to stop a radical, religious whack job from destroying the terraformer complex that supplies Mars with its breathable atmosphere. The surviving colonists are forced to flee underground, thus returning the series to its cavernous origins.

Five years later, Darius is making ends meet by being a mercenary engineer, living the devil-may-care lifestyle of a snarky and sarcastic, yet sensitive video gaming hero. Unfortunately, he manages to screw the planet—again—by accidentally unleashing a horde of vile, bug-like aliens with a taste for human carnage. So, Darius must break out the guns and sledge hammer to clean up his own mess.

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Magnetic Personality

Like Red Faction: Guerrilla, Armageddon is a third-person shooter with a penchant for absurd levels of destruction. Darius has a host of tools to aid him in his quest for structural degradation, including a couple fun new tools. In addition to a really big sledgehammer, the game throws a keen magnetic gun into the mix. This two-stage weapon allows for some truly hilarious property and alien damage. First you target the object you wish to move, and then you hit the trigger again on whatever you want to propel the object toward.

This might mean tagging a building’s support beam and then sending it flying toward a far wall, or it could be targeting two aliens and watching them slap right into each other. The opportunities for gleeful, rampant destruction are strong here, and simply destroying as much stuff as possible in as many ways as possible is the major draw of the entire game. (Although frankly, it might be the only major draw.)

History Repeats Itself

In nearly every other way, Armageddon is largely behind the times. Aside from the magnet gun and a few other new toys, the gameplay is either identical to Guerrilla or a step backwards. Taking the action back into caves actually limits the amount of objects players can tear down, and there’s a stunning lack of vehicle usage as well. The gameplay is also entirely linear this time around, so there’s not even the illusion of an open world or sandbox environment.

The gameplay itself is simple run and gun. Take away the ability to destroy the landscape and Armageddon plays like an old-school arcade shooter. There’s no cover system and Darius has no fancy moves at all. He runs, shoots, ducks, and jumps. There’s virtually no innovation, or even an attempt to match advancements in current third-person games.

The presentation, on the other hand, is definitely improved. While Armageddon isn’t stunning, the visuals are well-done, with excellent character models and decent-looking levels. The aliens all look and act like generic video game baddies though. Their mobility is impressive—they can jump like crazy and cling to walls and ceilings—but are otherwise uninspired. They spit acid/energy, and come in the usual varieties of weak and fast drones, slow and monstrous hulks, and various grades in between, and erupt from spawn points. On the plus side, the game makes liberal use of massive alien creations that actually bolster the strength of any surrounding creatures.

Finally, the only multiplayer included in Armageddon is a cooperative, four-player survival mode that ties into the main story line. It’s a fun and intense coop game, with an impressively large selection of missions. Still, given that Guerrilla managed to provide such an interesting take on standard FPS-style modes, this lack of game mode variety is disappointing.

A Simple Joy… Really Simple

Despite all the complaints leveled at Red Faction: Armageddon, there’s still something intrinsically and hilariously entertaining about the sheer over-the-top fun of just knocking things down. Running up to buildings and hitting them with a big hammer until they fall, or taking them apart piece by piece with the magnet gun is fun. Armageddon may be low-brow and even lazy in its overall design, but the core concept of destruction carries over well. If you’re looking for a shallow good time with plenty of explosions and destruction, you could do worse.