Xbox 360

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Red Faction: Armageddon

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Volition
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Co-op)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Like Bulletstorm, Red Faction: Armageddon is all in the approach. Play it straight, and you're left with a solid, yet repetitive game. Take full advantage of the game's destruction and you've got one of the year's most exciting first-person shooters.

Although Armageddon takes a different approach than Red Faction: Guerilla, being able to destroy just about anything in the environment is the heart of the game. Blow holes in walls, topple guard towers... you name it and you can probably break it (and, more impressively, rebuilt it). It is an incredibly cool feature; it adds a new level of fun and strategy to shootouts and even a slight sense of exploration. It is not the open-world surface of Mars, but the underground still looks pretty good.

Watching a tower fall is one thing, but the sound is what sells it. Structures bend, creak and whine as they crumble around you. It is well done and makes it hard to not want to leave a path of destruction in your wake. The downside to the symphony of destruction is background music is sometimes lost. Rest assured, it is still there and fills in the gaps nicely, piping in just when you want it to and setting the mood perfectly.

Voice-work is pitch perfect and noteworthy. You don't spend enough time with the characters during the campaign, but it's easy to get a feel for their personalities and relationships just by listening to their voices.


Gameplay:

Taking place 50 years after Red Faction: Guerilla, Red Faction: Armageddon begins with an environmental disaster that sends Mars' human colonists underground. You are Darius Mason, a scavenger/ recovery specialist who is tricked into cracking open a vault keeping an army of aliens at bay.

Armageddon is a more guided, linear experience. The change in direction may disappoint fans of Guerilla's "Go Anywhere, Destroy (nearly) Anything" setup, which is too be expected. At the same time, Armageddon offers a tighter, more refined experience than previous games in the series. I would have liked a bit more freedom of exploration through the Martian caves, though I personally enjoyed the confined experience. I liked Guerilla, but I found the combination of open-world gameplay and open destruction overwhelming at times.

The tight corridors still offer opportunity for large-scale destruction. The claustrophobic spaces add a strategic element to the devastation. It is tempting to demolish structures for the sake of seeing them fall, but since enemies have few places to go, you can bring things down on top of them or create makeshift cover. It is not always perfect and falters when you're faced with swarms of tiny enemies, though when it works, it is a blast.

Armageddon's single-player storyline is disappointingly short. The storytelling is okay, though it never manages to rise above stock sci-fi horror. Once the credits roll on the campaign, you replay with most of your equipment and upgrades (and a rainbow-farting unicorn... really) in "New Game+" or play though Armageddon's multiplayer modes. First is a co-op "Horde Mode" called Infestation. Here you team up with friends to take on multiple waves of enemies while attempting to complete objectives. It's a great combination, especially when you're with a group that understands how to use the entire environment to their advantage.

Infestation really shows off what Armageddon's engine can do, though if you're dying for more destruction, you can also take on Ruin challenges. These are timed sessions that are all about causing as much damage possible. It is a fun, and more constructive, way to wind down after a stressful day at work.


Difficulty:

Red Faction: Armageddon takes an interesting approach towards difficulty. You're loaded down with powerful weapons quickly and it is never above making you feel like a complete badass. Even more powerful enemies aren't hard to take down, particularly if you're inventive with using objects in the environment to your advantage. You can just as easily take out an alien with a chunk of wall as you can a full clip of ammo. Instead, Armageddon overwhelms you with swarms of enemies and structures battles inside narrow passages. There's nowhere to run, adding an uncomfortable feeling of dread to every encounter.

In addition to a powerful array of weapons, you can also use salvage (a byproduct of your structure-collapsing antics) to purchase upgrades. These include faster reload times as well as more health and added energy for the Nanoforge. Upgrades also carry over into multiplayer, which is a nice touch.


Game Mechanics:

If you haven't picked up on the theme running through Red Faction: Armageddon already, demolition is the star of the show. The mechanic is tight and supported by a selection of ridiculously powerful weapons. You can pick up the sledgehammer and go brick-by-brick, or choose from a numerous other weapons ranging from assault rifles to plasma cannons. Even better, you are never forced to wait for big-ticket artillery. You get access to the plasma cannon within the first few minutes and it just keeps getting better from there. I love the approach and Volition does a nice job of adding a real element of choice when deciding which weapons to carry.

Plasma cannons and shotguns are one thing, but all play second fiddle to the Magnet Gun. This is Armageddon's signature weapon and will quickly earn a permanent place at your side. The weapon lets you shoot one object, then another, causing the two to fly towards each other. As a weapon, it opens up numerous possibilities. I couldn't tell you the number of times I used it to snag hard-to-shoot enemies and send them flying into walls (or down caverns). You can also slam barrels into walls, or.... well, the possibilities are limited only by your creativity. It is also a great tool from grabbing out of reach ammo.

Another invaluable gizmo is the Nanoforge and its assortment of special abilities. The most impressive of the bunch allows you to reassemble destroyed structures. The obvious use if for reassembling crumbling cover, though you will also use it to repair walkways and other mission-critical objects. Another ability, Impact, produces a powerful punch of energy that sends anything in its path flying. There's also a protective shield and stasis field.

Red Faction: Armageddon delivers, though only if you're willing to accept that it isn't Guerilla and take full advantage of the environment. Though short, it is a satisfying experience and should not be missed.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:



Sony PlayStation 3 Shadows of the Damned Microsoft Xbox 360 F.E.A.R. 3

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated