Guest Author - James Shea
A return to more linear gameplay after "Red Faction Guerilla", "Red Faction Armageddon" features some fun physics but overall hit-or-miss gameplay.
Like the previous Red Faction games, Red Faction Armageddon takes place on Mars in the far future. While Guerilla was an open-world sandbox about undermining a corrupt regime, Armageddon is a far more linear shooter about progressing from point A to point B. This doesn't make it a worse game, but it certainly makes it more limited. The game still has the series' primary feature, "GeoMod", which allows for destructible buildings and deformable terrain. Yet while RF1 sometimes used GeoMod to let players create alternative solutions to problems (i.e. tunneling around an obstacle), RFA mostly limits it to "blowing things up".
Not that "blowing things up" isn't fun. The way things collapse and explode is pretty exciting, and between your various explosive weapons and your wall-crushing power hammer, you've got plenty of tools with which to break things. Blow up bunkers to crush the enemies inside, destroy towers to send their inhabitants careening off, or punch holes in walls to move forward. Unfortunately, there are two sorts of enemies: "cultists", who use guns and are therefore fun to fight, and "bugs", who aren't. The parts of the game where you fight cultists are great; they let you make use of the GeoModding in all sorts of interesting ways and their own explosive weapons means they'll destroy your cover and even collapse things on you. The parts of the game where you fight bugs are terrible, since they just sort of generically mob you and aren't really interesting to fight.
Armageddon abandons the relatively conventional aesthetic of previous games to try something sort of daring - a more alien-looking set of designs combined with an abundance of protective goggles and heavy cloaks. This is sort of offset by the incredibly conventional approach to the setting: you start the game in a military transport with a sergeant barking jargon at you, just like hundreds of other games have already done. The focus on this concept is almost baffling since everything else about the game's aesthetic seems to want to move away from "generic sci-fi FPS". The usual array of boring FPS weapons are present - assault rifles, shotguns, pistols - but they exist alongside much more interesting weapons. A magnet gun that "attaches" one point to another, causing all the matter on the former to careen towards the latter. A plasma gun whose charged-up shots send shockwaves through a structure, collapsing it on impact. A remote-detonated bomb launcher. A rapid-fire grenade launcher that can quickly destroy entire bases. All the explosive weapons, in short, are really fun and interesting and different, and all the "shoot bullet" guns are boring and samey.
Overall RFA is a decent game - not great, but it's got some good ideas. People who enjoyed Red Faction Guerilla will probably be nonplussed by its linear design, but people who are used to more direct action games will probably have fun with it. It's solidly constructed and has some neat ideas, and while its execution could be better, it's still generally enjoyable.
We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.
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