Red Faction: Armageddon Review
|Release Date:||June 10th, 2011 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andrew Hmephill (Bandit)|
I've been a long-time Red Faction fan. I fondly remember toppling Ultor Corporation as the leader of the Red Faction, Parker, in the first title, and went on to play each of the games in sequence as the grand tale of Mars' fight for survival continued.
After the previous game, Red Faction: Guerrilla, took the action to a third-person perspective, I thought the series could only go from strength to strength. Sure, the third-person aspect was a big change, but the sheer scale of destruction offered by the GEOmod 2 engine (and a trusty sledgehammer) was amazing
And so we come to Red Faction: Armageddon, a game I hoped would rectify the mistakes made by Guerrilla - namely, no plot and little to do between missions out in the barren wastes of Mars.
And has Armageddon rectified this? Yes. But it's made a whole load of other mistakes in doing so.
Unlike Guerrilla, Armageddon is a strictly regimented affair, with the game's sweeping plot (which is far stronger this time) taking place in focused missions, with little of the open-world sandbox fun of Guerrilla.
The action also mostly takes place underground - the remaining humans of Mars have been forced into the mines to survive as the surface of the Red Planet sours and dies. This results in a fairly linear shooter which takes place almost entirely in dark, dingy, underground settings, restricting the action severely.
While it's nice to have a plot to follow, which manages to at least keep you interested, the loss of the open-world wandering of Guerrilla is a bit of a blow.
Stepping into the armoured mining boots of the latest in the Parker-Mason line, a bald-headed, gruff talking miner by the name of Darius Mason, the game's plot revolves around a discovery the player character stumbles upon early on - aliens. It seems Mars has more than one species fighting for its resources.
So, pretty quickly, everything goes to hell. Mason and his fellow Red Faction fighters have to battle the join threats of the aliens, which are hell-bent on eradicating the humans, and the break-away forces of a crazed cult-leader, who has a shadowy agenda of his own.
And how does Mason do this? By blowing the crap out of everything in sight, of course. Yes, GEOmod 2 returns in fine form in this latest 'Faction, allowing the gamer to adapt on the fly, levelling buildings, crushing aliens with flying rubble and generally causing chaos as you race to unravel the story.
To do this, the game equips you with a wide variety of fiendish tools, ranging from the traditional sledgehammer to a rifle that fires small black holes, remote charges, a railgun that you can shoot through walls and one of the best weapons ever conceived - the magnet gun.
In some ways, Armageddon in saved by the magnet gun. It's simplicity itself - fire one high-powered magnet into one object, then fire another one into something else and watch as the two are drawn to each other.
It could be one alien berserker to another one, or a towering comms unit to the floor, or one building to another building. The destruction you can wreak with a gun that shoots magnets is immense, and collapsing buildings on enemies by attracting the load-bearing columns to them never gets old.
Of course, like Guerrilla, reconstruction is also a big part of the gameplay, and with Guerrilla's Nanoforge now being attached to Mason's wrist, quickly reconstructing a bridge you just blew up to drop a horde of aliens into the abyss - as you run across it - is always a pleasure.
The beauty of the nanoforge is its ease of use. It can rebuild entire buildings in moments, contains an AI called SAM, who has a sense of humour, and comes with a suite of upgradable powers that can aid your adventure, be it a force-push style thrust that can send enemies flying, or a shield for added protection.
The gameplay, then, revolves around blowing up the enemy and environment in mission after mission, battling the invasion in a fight to survive. This is broken up with fun sections where Mason gets his grubby mitts on a variety of tracked vehicles, and more than a few mech-suits, which make mincing the aliens a cinch.
While the action does begin to grate on you after a while, there's enough content here to keep even a jaded 'Faction fan like me interested for a while.
However, despite the improvements made to the singleplayer, THQ overlooked one major factor that made Red Faction: Guerrilla so much fun - competitive multiplayer. While Armageddon features a Horde Mode-style co-op game, where up to four players have to fend of wave after wave of aliens, there is no competitive multiplayer. At all. This is a severe oversight on their part.
One of the best things about Guerrilla was its competitive multiplayer, as two teams tried to defend or destroy certain important buildings or bridges, utilising backpack power-ups to change the game on the fly. There's none of that here, and it's a sad loss, as the horde mode is simply dull after a while.
Graphically, Armageddon is pretty good. Though the majority of the action takes place underground, in areas that are too small and badly lit, the animation is excellent, and the variety of places the game takes the player - from endless canyons to the windswept plains of Mars' surface - keeps the gameplay exciting.
- the squealing, groaning nature of the creatures can set your teeth on edge, even as you slam a building into them with the magnet gun.
Though Red Faction: Armageddon fixes many of the mistakes of its predecessor, it makes a whole load of new ones instead. While the plot is far more engaging this time, the restrictive nature of Mars' underground and the linear mission design takes away an aspect of the freedom that Guerrilla did so well. While the action in the singleplayer is intense, and the selection of wacky weapons keeps things fun, the lacklustre multiplayer and lack of a competitive multiplayer is a sad loss to the series, forcing the game into the firmly average category.
- The magnet gun is ace
- Decent plot and characters
- Clever nods to the game's predecessors
Not so good stuff
- No competitive multiplayer
- Restrictive, linear missions
- Alien swarms can get a bit much
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