Red Faction: Armageddon Review
People react to games in an untold number of ways, and writing these reviews has made me privy to a wealth of reasons why people love or hate any particular game. First impressions are key, and Red Faction: Armageddon on the PS3 left me one Iíve never felt before: I was guessing which hilarious songs might be on the main characterís, the hammer-wielding Darius Mason, personal iPod. The first that jumped to mind was too easy a connection (think bankruptcy and parachute pants), but ďIím Downright Amazed At What I Can Destroy With Just A Hammer,Ē by little known one-man act Atom and His Package, fits the game far better, mostly because you, the player, will be downright amazed at what Red Faction: Armageddon allows you to destroy with just your hammer. But does this sequel measure up in other areas? Is it just a destruction fetish game with some shooting and exploration slathered on over the framework? Why does the Red Faction series insist on subtitling their games with words Iíve always had trouble spelling (Armageddon, Guerilla, etc.)? Read on to find out.
Red Faction: Armageddon puts players in control of the previously mentioned Darius Mason, a resident of Mars who carries a giant hammer. The game picks up with Mason witnessing a massive alien breakout on the Red Planet, which, of course, he must stop before the Martian populous is wiped out. The story is admittedly thin, but the cutscenes that tell it are well paced and interesting enough to keep players going. Personally, the action movie events and dialogue wore thin by the end of the game, but overall, the plot isnít a bad effort.
When it comes to the presentation, RF: A is a mixed bag. The voice acting is almost universally excellent, and the facial animations of the characters are stunningly and amazingly true to life. Make sure to keep an eye on a higher up early in the game and the bearded man in the underground settlement; they look like they could be actual, real people. Having just finished L.A. Noire, I didnít think we would see another game this generation that matched it in the quality of facial animation and voice acting departments. Surprise! RF: A not only matches L.A. Noire, it blows it out of the water.
The in-game graphics arenít quite as impressive, but they do they job nicely. The environments are somewhat detailed, as are the characters and enemies, but the fact that nearly the whole game takes place underground doesnít give the designers much to work with, aside from a million varieties of brown wall. That might be overstating, but RF: A has a habit of bringing you to new locales that look strangely similar to the last three areas you visited. The characters donít share the same fate; Darius, the colonists, the enemies, all look pretty nice and stand out from the often-bland backgrounds. Overall, the presentation is good, but just not breathtaking.
No one will accuse Red Faction: Armageddon of being a too short title, as it offers not only a somewhat long single player campaign, but various other single and multiplayer modes to choose from. Lets discuss the campaign first.
First off, if youíre expecting the free roam, sandbox style of Red Faction: Guerilla, youíre going to be mad. Armageddon is a straightforward, linear action/shooter, and in a world where ďlinearĒ is a dirty word, I can say for sure the switch works. Players familiar with the Red Faction universe should still feel right at home despite the switch, and I imagine some, if not all, of them will embrace it.
I mentioned before that the campaign drags toward the end, though you might not see it coming as you play. At first, youíll get wrapped up in combat, but after you spend most of the game alternating between exploring and shooting, the shooting can get repetitive, thanks to the dozens of encounters where youíll face a (seemingly) unlimited amount of monsters. Their numbers only increase as you push through the game, and youíll begin seeing the same handful of enemies repeated over and over and over. Honestly, in the last two hours or so, I had to force myself to keep playing through the boredom of the firefights. Iíve even heard some gamers got sick of the fighting in the DEMO, not the full game. The combat isnít bad or broken; it just gets old very quickly.
Thankfully, there is an upside to all this bland shooting: Darius has the chance to spend salvage (the gameís currency, obtained through winning fights, causing destruction, etc.) on a number of cool upgrades. Unlocking these abilities will become an obsession, and youíll be poking in each and every corner to collect as much salvage as possible. You may have seen all the upgrades in other games, but getting them all provides nice motivation to explore, unlock and eventually max out olí Darius Mason.
As I get into RF: Aís other modes, lets talk about the gameís, and the seriesí, trademark: Breakiní stuff. If you arenít familiar with the series, it has always been about environmental destruction and this latest game does it better than any previous ones. Nearly everything in RF: A can be reduced to rubble with Dariusí hammer, explosives or both, and these choices also serve to keep things interesting. Taking down an enemy packed three-story structure is as fun and rewarding the first time as it is the millionth. And guess what? If you accidentally destroy something you need, RF: A gives players the ability to rebuild by holding L2. Itís a genius move on the developersí part, as it makes all the destruction consequence free, and thus, more fun.
The single player isnít where it stops, though; the game offers a host of other modes, both online and off. Infestation mode, for example, is an online multiplayer mode reminiscent of Gears of Warís Horde mode. You and your online friends are faced with wave after wave of enemies, and your score is based on how long you manage to survive. Ruin mode is essentially the same thing, only single player. Both are good fun for a while, but online leaderboards and multiplayer arenít enough to sway me on my ďno online multiplayerĒ sensibilities. Some people will love these modes, but for me, the single player is the gameís highest point.
Red Faction: Armageddon can be a really fun game. The online and extra modes may not be all that great, and the repetitive nature of the fighting doesnít do the title any favors, but there is still a solid game here. Smashing and rebuilding stuff is great fun, and a lot of times it can make up for some of the flaws. Red Faction: Armageddon is clearly a game for fans of the series, and/or someone looking for a good, solid action game. It is the best thing since sliced bread? Nah. But it does bring a lot to the table and may or my not be a worth edition to your collection, depending on your tastes.
Final Rating: 81%.