Published on July 16th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
Red Faction: Armageddon Review
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed],Windows PC, PS3
Release: June 7, 2011
Red Faction: Armageddon is the quintessential summer game. Included in the package is a solid single-player campaign, a multiplayer mode that doesn’t require dedication to be fun and a mode that is nothing but blowing down buildings using good old-fashioned Red Faction physics. Though it won’t be able to stand against some major releases coming out later this year that isn’t the point. Gamers looking for a fun well-rounded game to help them survive the summer blues should consider giving the latest in the Red Faction franchise a look.
RF: Armageddon is a third-person shooter and unlike 2009’s Red Faction: Guerrilla, the game is not free roaming and returns to its linear roots. The game is set in the year 2170, 100 years after the original Red Faction. Players take control of Darius Mason, grandson of RF: Guerrilla‘s Alec Mason. Five years prior, Darius and his fellow Red Faction soldiers set out to stop a group of Cultists, led by game antagonist and tribal tattoo fan Adam Hale, from destroying the Terraformer which was creating an Earth-like atmosphere for Mars. During the final moments Darius made an honest, yet critical, mistake resulting in the destruction of the Terraformer. Now in the present, Darius is no longer part of Red Faction and scrapes by as a merc-for-hire to the thousands of pissed off people now living in mines thanks to the hostile atmosphere. During a job, he unknowingly releases an alien species of insects that were trapped deep within the planet. He didn’t realize that the group of people who hired him were Cultists led by Hale who was thought to have died when the Terraformer was destroyed. Now burned twice by the same guy, Darius sets out to defeat Hale once and for all, return the insects to their prison, and return the atmosphere to its previous state. Sounds like a good day’s work.
Admittedly, most people who play Red Faction aren’t really doing it for the riveting story. In fact, like all good summer flicks the story in RF: Armageddon is easily forgotten once the credits start rolling. In reality, they play it for the insane weaponry and the famous destruction physics that powers every Red Faction game. And RF: Armageddon provides that destruction in spades. But RF: Armageddon does change the game, however, by providing players with the ability to reconstruct structures as well. Using the Nano-Forge on his wrist, Darius can either use Impulse to blow through obstacles or enemies (or both), or use it to repair broken structures. Such structures include bridges to get through a level or generators. Repairing aside, destruction is still the highlight of the game and is pulled off marvelously. Destruction really is a thing of beauty in this game. Explosive weapons rock the environment sending enemies and shards of broken structures flying in a kind of chaotic orgy that would make Michael Bay blush. Easily one of my favorite destructive weapons in an already impressive list of 17 others is the Singularity Cannon which in description “combines the destruction of the Singularity Bomb with Ultor fusion research.” Basically it emits a small black hole which sucks in all enemies and structures nearby before erupting, scattering everything it absorbed like fireworks. It’s just too much of a good time.
The weapon that I spent the most time with, however, would have to be the Magnet Gun. If there was a weapon that defines RF: Armageddon, this would be it. The Magnet Gun is pretty much what you might think it is. The first shot fires a magnet which can attach to anything from objects to enemies. The second shot fires the anchor which attracts the magnet at super-high velocity. With unlimited ammo, the Magnet Gun goes from weapon, to an ever-evolving experiment of “what can be shot into what next?” Enemies can be slammed into walls, through buildings and against each other. Or, you can fire the magnet at a building and watch in sheer amusement as large sections break off and fly at unknowing enemy. Anything becomes a weapon from the obvious such as stalactites or just pieces off a nearby wall or bridge. My favorite Magnet Gun kills come from sticking an insect with a magnet then firing the anchor behind a bunch of structures and watch as it flies through, sending pieces of the building in every direction. Later in the game so many enemies fill the screen things get too hectic for the Magnet Gun to be of any use. But for the first half of RF: Armageddon I guarantee you won’t want to use anything else.
Darius can take control of a couple different armored vehicles. One of which is the LEO suit which sports powerful weaponry such as homing rockets. It can also easily shoulder charge through buildings and enemies as well. I don’t think I could ever get tired of charging large alien bugs through buildings like a nuclear-powered linebacker. Strapping into the LEO is the only time you’ll never have to deal with repairing anything. Just hop in and enjoy the ride.
Graphics in RF: Armageddon are pretty decent and clean. The game features many different underground and outside environments and almost never feels repetitive. Every level features something new. The most impressive thing about the graphics engine is that even though so much can be happening on-screen, I never noticed the frame rate drop once. Not even in later levels as dozens of insects surrounded me while pieces of buildings blew off from massive explosions did the game slow down. The Volition team did a great job making sure that the game plays even better than it looks. Audio is also noteworthy. Weapon audio and explosions sound great and even the voice acting is surprisingly good.
Experience points are earned during combat and can be used to upgrade abilities in the Nano-Forge. There are typical upgrades such as weapon damage and reload speed, plus special offensive and defensive abilities that are used in combat. Three such abilities exist to assist Darius during the most intense firefights. Berserk is an offensive ability that temporarily boosts weapon damage. Every kill increases weapon damage until the ability is spent, resulting in an explosion that kills most weaker nearby enemies. Shockwave is a defensive ability that stops enemies in their tracks and suspend them in mid-air. Later versions of Shockwave can even absorb health from enemies and pass it to Darius. Shell, another defensive ability, creates a spherical force field around Darius, temporarily halting incoming fire.
There is no competitive multiplayer mode of RF: Armageddon which might bum some players out. Instead, it has a four-player co-op mode called Extermination which is basically what it sounds like. Four people team up and, after choosing load-outs, protect generators from waves of oncoming insects. The waves become more difficult over time, eventually forcing the players to team up against one or more boss enemies. The mode itself isn’t bad and I found myself having fun with it fairly quickly. The other play mode, Ruin, lets gamers embrace their destructive nature by planting them in a small arena filled with destructible buildings. The goal is to pull off as much destruction as possible in the allotted time using the biggest, baddest weapons of the game. The mode is purely for destruction fans at heart. Ruin mode is only available when the game is purchased new. Otherwise it will cost $10 to unlock. You can play a demo of it with only one level but your score won’t be saved.
As I said, Red Faction: Armageddon is a great summer title. The campaign is solid and includes other fun modes that can take up as much, or as little, time as you like. It isn’t a game of the year candidate by any means, but it fills the hole in the summer time slot and helps stave off boredom while blockbuster games are off on the horizon. The storyline is quickly forgotten and the Horde Mode-like Extermination won’t hold your attention for too long, but the game is still fun and provides plenty of kickass gameplay moments and destruction that will keep a smile on your face for many hours.
+ MAGNET GUN!
+ Beautiful, beautiful destruction.
+ No slowdown even when things get hectic.
+ Solid single player campaign.
– Forgettable story.