Red Faction: Armageddon Review
The Red Faction series evolved from a first person shooter to an open world game, and now it's a fairly linear, third-person action game. What hasn't changed is the fantastic, destruction-filled gameplay that is still very much present in this latest entry to the Red Faction series. Does the shift from open world mayhem to linear chaos hurt the overall experience?
Fifty years have passed since the EDF has been overthrown on Mars' surface, and things seem to have been going fairly well for the planet's occupants. Of course, peace is always short-lived. As you play through the prologue, you take control of Darius Mason, the grandson of Alec Mason from Red Faction: Guerrilla. You're also introduced to Adam Hale, an extremist who thinks life on Mars shouldn't be governed by the Red Faction. Hale destroys the Terraformer, the machine which makes the surface habitable by humans, which in turn forces everyone to flee underground.
On the surface, Red Faction: Armageddon is a fairly standard third-person shooter. You're given a large arsenal of deadly weapons that lets you make quick work of the alien species. Under the surface, however, is what separates this game from its genre brethren. Destruction is the game's main highlight. Just like the previous game, you're able to unleash your Maul or any other destructive weapon on almost anything, be it building, tower, fence, wall, bridge--the list goes on. It hasn’t lost the sense of satisfaction you get from taking down an entire facility with a few well-placed shots or skillful strikes of your hammer. The tech behind these destructible environments remains fairly unchanged from the last game, but they still look mighty impressive.
Aside from the standard pistols and assault rifles, Mason has some pretty kick-ass weapons. Disintegrating enemies into nothing with your Nano Rifle or shooting a deadly stream of plasma that destroys everything in its path is awesome in its own right. However, the Magnet Gun is where most of the fun is. This gun essentially lets players use anything and everything as ammo. How it works is simple, though mastering it to cause optimal damage can be tricky. The first shot drops an anchor magnet, while the second shot then attracts that anchor to it. For example, you can attach an anchor to a hulking metal ball and then shoot at a building, sending that metal ball hurling toward it and leveling the building completely. It’s as satisfying as it sounds.
You won’t just be destroying things. You’re also able to reconstruct demolished structures with your Nano Forge. Whether it's a ruined bridge or torn-down building, you’re able to fully reconstruct any structure to its original state. It’s quite useful in intense gunfights when you are in desperate need of cover. Crates and walls can be reconstructed for you to catch your breath and regain any lost health.
These gunfights wouldn’t be as intense if the enemies weren’t plentiful. The variety of alien species you’ll encounter under Mars’ soil are fast and deadly. They range from small Creepers that jump from wall to wall to medium-sized walkers that shoot projectiles or become invisible. It even has giant worm-like creatures that require immediate attention since they spawn more enemies. Armageddon also features a handy quick-snap aim feature that immediately focuses on the enemy closest to your aiming receptacle. This is an essential addition, as the smaller, more nimbler enemies tend to jump around the screen.
Every demolished building or structure will leave behind salvage. Salvage acts as currency when leveling up Mason’s skills at the variously scattered upgrade stations. There are four tiers of unlockable skills that become available for purchase when specific segments of the main campaign are completed. Some of the upgrades include view of an enemy's health, increased damage with particular weapons, reduced damage at low health, and new skills like a shell that shields you from damage or a Shockwave that hurls enemies into the air.
If the fairly lengthy campaign isn’t enough for you, you can test your survival skills in the multiplayer co-op Infestation Mode. This mode pits a team of up to four players in a battle of survival against an onslaught of enemy creatures. Also, any skills previously bought while playing the single-player campaign get carried over to multiplayer. For those that feel the need for some pure destruction, the incredibly addicting Ruin Mode just might feed that desire. Ruin Mode challenges you to let loose on an environment and wreck everything around you while using only the most powerful of weaponry. One of those weapons is the devastating Black Hole gun. The point of this mode is to rack up as much points as you can by causing the most destruction within a minute. Though it sounds easy at first (especially given the amount of powerful weaponry at your disposal), strategic shots in the correct spot can be the difference between a smoking hole in the wall or the complete destruction of a towering facility.
I wasn’t sure whether I would like the game’s change from Guerrilla’s open world formula to a more linear mission-based one. However, this wasn't the case. The storyline is gripping, if at times a bit cliché; the controls are spot on; and leveling all that's around you never gets old. Red Faction: Armageddon is simply a blast to play through.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]