Red Faction: Armageddon
- Street Date:
- June 7th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Chad Goodmurphy
- Review Date:1
- December 7th, 2011
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Volition, Inc
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
A decade ago, the gaming industry saw the release of a first-person shooter that brought more to the party than guns and ammunition. Entitled, Red Faction, it ended up being a very solid entry in the bullet-ridden genre. However, the game’s most talked-about factor was certainly its included GeoMod technology. It allowed players to tunnel through Martian mines and caverns, using explosive weaponry such as high-powered rockets. If you didn’t want to take a direct route from one point to another, then you didn’t have to.
Taking place within a mining community built on the red sands of Mars, Volition’s futuristic shooter told the tale of a worker revolution. Many miners abandoned their comfortable lives on Earth, in order to head to the red planet, in search of much-needed minerals. Having been promised healthy living conditions and an excellent working atmosphere, the workers’ spirits became diminished when they found out that was all a lie. Treated like slaves, they all lived in fear of a rampant plague that would slowly kill individuals throughout the large camp. Cue the eventual uprising.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Following its successful debut, the Red Faction franchise became one of THQ’s prioritized intellectual properties. Although its first sequel (also released last generation,) failed to impress as much as its predecessor did, it continued on with the impressive rock-blasting technology that we all loved. Despite some very low reviews and lessened fan appreciation, the team’s sophomore series outing fortunately did not ruin the brand.
Fast-forward several years and we’ve now seen two more canon releases in the destructive series, with the most recent being Red Faction: Armageddon. It takes place fifty years after the events detailed in 2009’s Guerilla, where miner Alec Mason used personal motives to bring safety and happiness back to Mars’ worker colony. This time around, we get to control his grandson, Darius, who owns his own relatively successful business from within the planet’s labyrinthine caverns.
Due to a terrorist-style attach on the red planet’s air purifier, its surface has become inhabitable. Noxious gases and powerful storms combine for a deadly mixture that would take out any established surface camps. As a result, Mason and his comrades have taken refuge underground, establishing cities inside of dark and damp caves. It’s their only option, despite being a dangerous one. As cliché as it is, the group is not alone.
At the beginning of Armageddon, we’re introduced to Darius and his profitable operation that was briefly mentioned earlier. A madman of sorts, he’s actually willing to go to the surface in order to complete whatever type of task will pay. Mining or searching for lost materials are two tasks, which happen to be quite popular amongst the inhabitants of underground cities like Bastion. However, his latest job is less of a task and more of a set-up. Asked to open a sealed Marauder temple, our playable avatar unwittingly unleashes a horde of Martian insects.
With the goal of making amends for being tricked, Darius sets out to eradicate the ugly buggers who threaten his people. Though, that’s priority number one, a secondary goal tasks him with attempting to restore the livelihood of what was once a mechanically inhabitable planet. Nobody said it’d be easy, but someone has to do it.
The game’s storyline is unfortunately mediocre, lacking great explanation or development, which tends to make some featured events a tad confusing. Those who are new to the franchise may not understand what is going on, while those who’ve at least played through Guerilla, will have an easier go of it. Even then, there are some things that the game just doesn’t cover. Instead, THQ developed a prequel film, which aired on Scyfy prior to the game’s launch last spring. It’s too bad that it’s not included on a second disc within this package.
Despite the fact that its writers won’t receive any sort of literary award, Red Faction: Armageddon is saved by the inclusion of enjoyable game play elements. Instead of using standard first-person shooter mechanics, it takes the form of a third-person action shooter instead. That change was implemented two years ago, and things haven’t been altered too much for this release. You’re tasked once again, with using high-tech weaponry and the environment to your advantage, in an all-out offensive attack.
Since underground caverns don’t lend themselves well to open-world game play designs, one major change was implemented. Gone are the regular radio calls, which would beckon you to one point on the map or another, having been replaced by twenty-two individual missions. Although this is a noticeable change, the experience still retains the series’ feel.
The included mission selection introduces different game play elements and mechanics throughout. Some take place in the gigantic tunnels built far below ground, while others focus on blowing stuff up in the world above. Thankfully, neither one feels constrictive. Even though you’re in a cave, those environments are quite large and open, eliminating much of the expected claustrophobia. Aboveground, the action is taken to a much larger scale with visceral destruction at the hands of powerful mech suits.
Darius Mason’s discovered powers tend to be the highlight of the experience, although the mech suits certainly aren’t far behind. Gamers are given use of some incredibly powerful guns, including a magnet gun that can send enemies flying from one side of the map to another. However, the most-used new feature is the repair gun, which allows certain destroyed elements to be rebuilt. It aids the player with progression and combat. When you’re attempting to destroy something within the environment, whether it’s a walkway or a structure, it can be easy to get stuck on individual items. Scrap metal falls to the ground with each quaking punch or destructive explosion, with some becoming available for currency-based storing. Occasionally, your avatar will get caught up in-between certain items, requiring a punch or three to get free of the mess.
If there’s one major downside to Armageddon, it’s the fact that it’s not as original as it could have been. The move to darkened caves has brought with it a bit of a survival horror feel, with elements and enemies, which can easily be likened to Dead Space. While this lack of originality is certainly a downside, it didn’t bug me as much as it’s seemingly bothered some. In the end, I found the entire experience to be a heck of a lot of fun and enjoyed it completely.
Those who were hoping that this release would progress the underrated multiplayer found inside of its two year-old predecessor, will be disappointed to find out that it’s been scrapped entirely. Instead, a Horde-style Infestation mode is present, forcing teams of four to work together in an attempt to survive against thirty increasingly different waves of baddies. It’s relatively fun, with a base health mechanic added in on certain maps, though the aforementioned competitive multiplayer was definitely superior.
Purchasing a new copy of the game will bestow you with a redeemable code. Its unlock is a third mode that goes by the name of Ruin. Given a time limit, players must use their arsenal to destroy as much of the surrounding area as they can. At each attempt’s conclusion, your final score is tallied and rated. This option is challenging and quite chaotic, but it isn’t very memorable or unique.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Using a detailed visual engine, Volition Inc. has created an impressive-looking game. Varied environments present different opportunities, with a surprising amount of depth added into its underground world. Although things are dark down below, they’re never overwhelming or muddy. Conversely, there’s a decent amount of colour shown aboveground, thanks to a unique location and some diverse storm effects. Both areas feature realistically crumbling structures, which can be used to take out enemies.
One of the more standout visual facets found of this experience is certainly its character design. Darius and his accompanying survivors are all very detailed with realistic facial animations that will help players sympathize with their struggles. I was quite impressed with how most of the included cut-scenes looked, especially ones that used a lot of close-up shots. When enemies were shown during these, or within action set pieces, they looked quite good with some nice variety. However, even those are similar to what is found in Dead Space.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
It’s hard to fault Armageddon’s audio presentation. It marries quality voice acting and immersive sound effects, with an impressive original score. Composed by Brian Reitzell, the music found within uses a nice mixture of guitar work and loud, synthesized sounds. Its inclusion helps create some nice ambience within each of the dark and eerie caverns.
Different difficulty levels help promote repeat play throughs, with a be all, end all insanity option. However, gamers who prefer to play cooperatively will find that Infestation mode will offer them the most replay value. In the end, replay value will be based on how much you personally enjoy each presented mode.
Despite having a bit of a lack of identity, Red Faction: Armageddon is a high-quality game. It presents varied game play elements throughout its eight-hour long campaign, all of which happen to be quite fun and engaging. Other than the aforementioned issue and a restrictive movement engine, it’s hard to find major faults within the experience.
Fans of the franchise will enjoy this one, especially if they liked Red Faction: Guerilla. However, this recommendation is only issued towards those who enjoyed the single player campaign in that previous release, since its quality online multiplayer is unfortunately absent. The two extra game modes built exclusively for this release are half-decent.
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Online Co-op
- Online Versus
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