Introducing Red Faction: Armageddon and probably like you’ve never seen the series before. Taking a quick look back at the titles in the series and you quickly realize this time around developer Volition not only wants you thoroughly engaged in non-stop alien combat, but a more story driven experience is waiting to be discovered. Offering a much more linear journey than before, again due to the heavy story narrative, Red Faction: Armageddon places you into the role of Darius Mason, grandson to our former revolutionary hero, Alec Mason.
Battling the elements of electrical storms, winds and other unimaginable elements of nature, colonists find themselves once again struggling for survival in the underground mines after the surface is rendered uninhabitable. Now as the surface of the planet becomes threatening, humanity eventually faces a completely different threat which drives you to the brink of destruction and along the way you’ll find yourself enjoying the ride…….most of the time
RF: Armageddon starts out with Mars not exactly doing as well as expected. Antagonist Adam Hale (Beyond Thunderdome Sift Lord looking dude) comes on the scene with his hard-nosed cult militia and decides to destroy the terraformer which in turn places Mars in planetary confusion which drives the planets colonist underground to find a form of normal life of their own. Meanwhile looking to make an extra buck, Darius Mason takes a suicide job to investigate an ancient civilization. What he finds is far more than ancient. These caves are home to a relentless species whose every intention is to end your existence as fast as possible.
Thank god for lock-on aiming. The creatures you encounter or bugs to better place their appearance to the imagination are not your standard stationary targets who wait for you to steady your aim. Jumping, flying and constantly moving makes for a challenging surprise especially when the odds are completely not in your favor. Locking on to these creatures is quick and intuitive and helps to relieve you from those almost frustrating encounters. By simply pulling the trigger when the target is within a certain proximity, your crosshair quickly goes red with the enemy within its sight. Bye-bye bugs!
Outside of your faithful brain-smashing Maul (hammer of great detruction), Darius eventually get his hands on some rather amazing pieces of weaponry. From your standard assault rifle, shotgun and dual wielding pistols, some other high-tech weapons make an appearance to spice things up a bit. Eventually you’re introduced to a Nano rifle that launches a load of nanites programmed to dissolve anything they touch. Enemies, objects you name it. You also get your hands dirty with the Pulse grenade which work very similar to your standard grenade launcher (my personal favorite). There is also what is called the Magnet Gun which acts like an anchor. By shooting the enemy and then shooting any other object in the area, the enemy is then violently yanked or pulled towards the object taking your enemy out of commision for good. This is a great weapon however, when the action picks up and you’re surrounded, it is no longer my weapon of choice as it takes too long to be effective while on the move.
Another one of my favorites has to be the Singularity Cannon – wow, this bad boy is completely nasty. Once you’ve transversed those god-aweful caves and made it back to the surface and you get your hands on this beast of a weapon you then get to feel what it must be like to be a true enforcer. Highly destructive, the Singularity Cannon destroys whatever you fire at – pure god complex at your fingertips. There’s truly a ton of great weapons waiting to be wielded.
At the heart of the RF: Armageddon experience lies the Nano technology. Harnessed to your arm is an object that defies all the destruction laid at your feet. The Nano Sphere allows players the ability to reconstruct destroyed objects such as bridges, reactors, walkways, walls, you name it. Unfortunately it doesn’t bring back the dead but that would be an altogether different game. When used properly players can also use this devise to manipulate the environment to better position them in those tightly placed caves.
Despite the fun time you’re bound to have initially when you jump into RF: Armageddon, all too often the game is almost too linear (durung the first half of the game), keeping the player confined to a beating path that has almost no variety. Not that linear is bad, by no means am I implying that however, with no mix up in the action to keep the gunplay less mundane with important cut-scenes maybe given more backstory to your grandfathers revolutionary exploits or maybe more history into your run-ins with Adam Hale, playing in the caves can quickly begin to feel like a chore.
As mentioned before, you eventually find your way from the dreaded caves and from this point, the game does pick up significantly the rest of the way as the basic feel of the game is far more engaging and fun. Interesting that Volition balanced the game as such. It makes you wonder how many people would most certainly enjoy the better half of the game once they’ve escaped the cave objectives. Chance are, for some their patience might just get the better of them. Nevertheless, the ride is a good time that certainly deserves a playthrough.
Once you’ve completed the campaign, two fun modes await. Starting with Ruin mode, played across five maps, players must destroy as much stuff as they can in a set amount of time and depending on who you’re playing with this won’t keep you up at night. Ruin mode does get a bit boring rather quickly. Infestation mode on the otherhand, like Gears of Wars horde mode unleashes waves of enemies at you and I must say, this is great fun. Lasting for up to 30 waves, this onslaught experience can sometimes feel like a wave of 100 as the intensity certainly picks up as you near the 30 wave mark.
In conclusion RF: Armageddon is a fun game adding however, where RF: Guerrilla moved the series forward, RF: Armageddon unfortunately took a few step in the opposite direction. Hampered by occasional gameplay staleness and a lack of memorable set-pieces RF: Armageddon is not the game it could have been. With more vision and ambition added to the predecessor (RF: Guerrilla experience), this series should certainly be moving in the right direction.