Giant Bomb Review

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Red Faction: Armageddon Review

3
  • X360
  • PS3

A few physics-based weapons and destructible environments can't elevate this strictly average third-person shooter.

Darius Mason: Short on character development, and hair.

Red Faction: Armageddon marginalizes, or outright ignores, some of the best qualities of its predecessor, the gleefully destructive Marsbox Red Faction: Guerilla. In place of that game's open world and its boundless opportunities for completely wrecking everything in sight, Armageddon constrains your freedom to an unflinchingly linear corridor crawl. The destructible environments are still here, but they're largely reduced to window dressing, except when they're actively getting in the way of your progress. There's a handful of neat weapons and vehicle sequences over the course of the campaign, but they aren't enough to redeem Armageddon's functional but bland and often repetitive third-person shooting.

The game casts you as scrappy, bald gun-for-hire Darius Mason, a descendant of Guerilla's revolutionary hero Alec Mason. But instead of an evil interplanetary corporation, you're up against...giant space bugs. Mason unwittingly releases a Mars-wide infestation of creepy crawlies at the behest of some crazy cultists, then spends the rest of the game fighting endless numbers of the bugs (and the occasional cultist) to squelch the outbreak and restore some semblance of order to Mars. There are a few attempts to connect this game up to the existing Red Faction back story--with the appearance of the last game's amazing sledgehammer, and references to the EDF and the deranged scientist Capek, for example--but otherwise, this game could be shoehorned into any franchise that accommodates the act of shooting at monsters with futuristic weaponry.

Repairing destroyed stuff is kind of fun... the first few times.

An early-game environmental disaster drives the human populace underground, so you'll spend the majority of the game fighting the same monsters ad nauseam in seemingly endless subterranean cave systems and industrial complexes. The shooting itself feels fine; it's just that two or three hours of doing it over and over reveals how unthreatening and rote the enemies' behavior is, removing any sense of danger or tension as you move into new combat scenarios. The handful of enemy types generally either cling to walls and shoot at you, or charge straight at you on the ground, and some careful observation will reveal them basically doing the exact things over and over, to the point that the wall-hangers will actually jump between the same points on the walls repeatedly. The hours and hours of combat are broken up by a few superficial and highly destructive vehicle sequences that are fun for a few minutes but really don't give you much more than a brief arcade thrill.

It's too bad the enemies aren't a stiffer and more dynamic challenge, because a few of the game's weapons are pretty good. The clear standout is the magnet gun, which lets you attach one node to an enemy or breakable surface, then a second node anywhere else, causing whatever the first node is stuck on to rocket toward the second node and go splat. The singularity launcher is also satisfying, as it creates a little gravity well that causes everything--enemies and scenery alike--to swirl around in the air for a few seconds before it explodes and does huge damage.

Both of these weapons, and more mundane destructive implements like a rocket launcher, can also be used to take apart structures the game designates as breakable. Tearing down buildings with abandon can be a lot of fun--that was inarguably the cornerstone of Guerrilla, in fact--but outside the rare objective to take down an infested building, Armageddon doesn't give you a lot of reasons, or even opportunities, to meaningfully destroy things. There are plenty of cases where you and some of the burlier enemies will actually end up destroying sets of stairs and walkways that you need to traverse to get to the next objective, and while the game arms you with a handheld device that can restore destroyed surfaces to their original state, it gets to be a chore rebuilding the level around you repeatedly just so you can move on. That repair device trips a glowing visual effect that looks neat the first few times you use it, but ultimately this mechanic doesn't add much to the campaign.

You will kill so, so many of these guys.

Armageddon lacks any sort of competitive multiplayer, but it's got Infestation, a wave-based survival mode for four players that's reasonably entertaining if you haven't burned out on the combat in the campaign yet. The nicest thing about Infestation is that the currency you earn there--and you earn it a lot faster than in the story--can be carried back over to your character for campaign play. So there's a good incentive to take a break from the single-player and boost your upgrades before you resume fighting for the salvation of Mars. But since the look and feel of the combat, enemies, and maps in Infestation are identical to that of the campaign, I had no desire to keep playing the multiplayer once I'd finished the story. There's also a timed Ruin mode for players who buy the game new. This one lets you destroy small maps under a time limit for maximum score, but the score requirements here are so stringent that it's not much fun to actually try to unlock each subsequent map (though there is a free mode that lets you truly run amok).

There's nothing wrong with a good linear third-person shooter, but Red Faction: Armageddon is merely a passable one. Its mechanics are sound but its design uninspired, failing to do any one thing better than the standout entries in the genre. And the few unique tricks it does have, its predecessor did better. After Guerrilla made such a resounding impact, it's a shame that the best you can say about this latest Red Faction is that it's just OK.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
120 Comments
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Posted by Ghost_of_Perdition

No surprise really. I played the demo once, and that was enough. Who in their right mind decided that it was a good idea to do a full 180 from Guerrilla.

Posted by GetEveryone

Shame. I really enjoyed Guerrilla; it did a lot of things fantastically well. After Just Cause 2, Guerrilla and so on, smaller action titles had been looking up. 
 
Might still pick this up when I get paid...

Posted by ChillyUK7

Guerilla got similar reviews but I loved that game, im torn between this and InFamous 2 :(

Posted by MjHealy

Ah, what a shame. I would test this game out for myself but with my limited funds at the moment, I can't be putting money down on full priced average games. I think I shall explore the back catalouge over the dry summer months.

Posted by stage

So, what the fuck? They went from an amazing, open-ended game with a great world and tons of fun, to a bad, linear, underground shooter with aliens? It's like they said "What was awesome with Guerrilla?" and then made its exact counterpart!

Posted by Maxszy

I don't get it. I am so disappointed. Guerilla was so much fun. It was a bit of just "Pure Fun" which is something I get out of a few games. (Fable 2 is the only one to jump out at me really quick right now). I would say "Pure Fun" is just an overall enjoyable experience without much if any frustration.  
 
That's what Guerilla was. And they went and made this, a linear game that takes the focus away from what made its predecessor so great? Boooo on them. I will be skipping this for sure, until maybe it hits the $20 point if that. Here's to hoping they go back to the Guerilla roots with the NEXT red faction. 
 
All in all though, I'm a bit bummed out.

Posted by TheKbob

I have had this vibe for a LONG TIME.  Since the first we saw the first trailers of RF:A.  They weren't showing blowing up stuff, but shooting stuff.  Shame, really. 

Posted by suicidepacmen

I played the demo and enjoyed it.  If it's just more of that I have no problem with getting the game since I enjoyed the magnet gun and asshole physics so much.  Plus the multiplayer is bound to be fun as hell.

Posted by Sprizmo

A damn shame. I wanted bigger badder Gueriila.

Posted by jakob187

Wait wait wait...

NO COMPETITIVE MULTIPLAYER?! THEY TOOK OUT THE BEST PART OF GUERRILLA?!

Fuck you, Volition. Fuck you right in your stupid asses. Why would you forsake us like that?

Posted by Heliosicle

why didn't they just do a more advanced Guerrilla :(

Posted by ptys

This reviews sucks, this guy obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. Red Faction Armoury... maggen deserves 10 stars!!

Sorry, just my impersonation of an IGN/Gamespot reply. Thanks Brad, will dodge this landmine!

Edited by vhold

I don't know why people think this game is going to do so badly, GiantBomb isn't the only review site, it's doing decent on Metacritic : http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/red-faction-armageddon 
 
I'm torn, I've played the demo on the 360, and the destruction was impressive, and I can see how a linear shooter based around it is a relatively novel idea.  I definitely had more fun in the demo than they had in the quick look.

Posted by Cirdain

It says SyFy games on the front cover.... *shakes head in disgust*

Posted by kingzetta

k-mart is price cutting it to 40 bucks on the 12th

Posted by mrhankey
@CornBREDX
 
Excuse me sir are you blaming steam for the broken game or Volition? The freezing you described isn't a  STEAM issue, as STEAM is just a distribution platform. If the game is broken it is up to the developer not the distributor to fix it. You can also find this same info on STEAM's support website.
Posted by kblood

Grate Review!

Posted by Richard76

I was afraid this was going to happen. When I tried the demo I loved the new weapons and thought to myself this great. As long as they go outside too. Too bad they forgot what the last game was all about. This went from a must buy to a maybe rent when I get some free time. Very disappointing.

Posted by xXLeadFarmerXx

Kind of disappointed, but still excited for the game.

Posted by fox01313

Shame that they are ditching the RF franchise for now as it's a wonderful & barely used setting. After playing this myself & using the magnet gun for a bulk of the game (save for the monoliths or bosses), the game was fun but in a very limited format compared to the previous RF Guerrilla. Just about every area for me was using the magnet gun to kill everything (with or without using the structures to kill things) but then there were many times of rebuilding whole sections of the level or falling down absentmindedly through some half-built walkway to a pit of doom. Would have loved it if for this game they just took the magnet gun & other tools in this one, took the world from RF Guerrilla then put the game at about half human enemies & half aliens. Would have been more fun then or just taking the crazy they put into Saints Row3 then just made this Red Faction game into wacky Martian fun.