Giant Bomb Review

119 Comments

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.
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.
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.
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 CommentsRefresh

Avatar image for fox01313
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.

Avatar image for xxleadfarmerxx
Posted By xXLeadFarmerXx

Kind of disappointed, but still excited for the game.

Avatar image for richard76
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.

Avatar image for kblood
Posted By kblood

Grate Review!

Avatar image for mrhankey
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.
Avatar image for kingzetta
Posted By kingzetta

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

Avatar image for cirdain
Posted By Cirdain

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

Avatar image for vhold
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.

Avatar image for ptys
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!

Avatar image for heliosicle
Posted By Heliosicle

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

Avatar image for jakob187
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?

Avatar image for sprizmo
Posted By Sprizmo

A damn shame. I wanted bigger badder Gueriila.

Avatar image for suicidepacmen
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.

Avatar image for thekbob
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. 

Avatar image for maxszy
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.

Avatar image for stage
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!

Avatar image for mjhealy
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.

Avatar image for chillyuk7
Posted By ChillyUK7

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

Avatar image for deactivated-57beb9d651361
Posted By deactivated-57beb9d651361

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...

Avatar image for ghost_of_perdition
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.

Avatar image for hatking
Posted By HatKing
@StingingVelvet: You're right.  I'm not sure why I was under the impression that Volition just bought the title.  I guess that goes to show you how different it really is. hah... And yes, I do understand that--I'm in the same boat too.  I really appreciate a sequel that departs from the original in some way (i.e.: art style, gameplay, story).  Red Dead Redemption might be an extreme case, but it's a good example.  I also enjoyed the Prince of Persia (reboot thing?) up until the last twenty minutes.
Avatar image for martdawg
Posted By Martdawg

Fable 3 and now this, I hope this isn't the year of terrible sequels.

Avatar image for pieguy
Posted By PieGuy

I loved Red Faction 1, Red Faction 2 was great for the multiplayer and bots aspect. Didn't like the direction they took with Guerilla and this doesn't look great either.
 
Will THQ be giving GiantBomb a early review copy again I wonder =P

Avatar image for blacklab
Posted By blacklab

Pretty much what I expected after playing the demo.

Avatar image for dougquaid
Edited By DougQuaid

I'm pretty surprised Brad gave this 3 stars. Considering how lukewarm the guys have been on this and how completely below average and uninspired this game seems to me, I can't help but think Brad was being pretty generous with the final score.

Avatar image for adamazing
Posted By adamazing

The first sentence of this review sums it all up (I did read the whole review though).  As I said in a comment on the "Quick Look" of RF:A, I hate to see people lose their jobs but people should pay for their mistakes.  Volition really screwed up here.  They went backwards.  To me, the most likely scenario of how this game was developed goes like this... 

 
- The boss's son got a job at Volition
- He was assigned as director/producer of RF:A
- He made a bunch of bad decisions because he didn't know what he was doing.
- The Volition team thought, "These are all terrible ideas, but we can't say anything... It's the boss's son! "
- RF:A was made, as is.

Avatar image for cirdain
Posted By Cirdain

FUCCCKKK!!! I'mcalling.it was down and I couldn't cancel my bet.... fuck

Avatar image for microshock
Posted By Microshock

Yeah, I was disappointed in the way they took the series right after Armageddon's trailer came out. How do you go from awesome open world destruction to linear underground cave shooter with barely anything to even blow up?! 
 
It's just sad. RFG needed a sequel, but this is crap.

Avatar image for dropabombonit
Posted By dropabombonit

It's a shame that this game didn't turn out great, last game was so much fun

Avatar image for rmanthorp
Posted By rmanthorp

Nice review. 
 
Too many good games to pick this up anyway...

Moderator
Avatar image for bhhawks78
Posted By bhhawks78

Such a bummer, best part about guerilla the open world destruction is gone, and the worst parts - shooting and enemy ai are in the forefront :((

Avatar image for metal_mills
Posted By Metal_Mills

If this had a bigger world with more stuff to destroy, I'd have bought it instantly. Too bad they went in the exact direction no one wanted.

Avatar image for stingingvelvet
Posted By StingingVelvet
@HatKing said:
Yes, but outside of name, Red Faction and Red Faction 2 were basically a different series, you know?  The story is pretty much entirely new, the developer is new and the gameplay is only vaguely reminiscent (deforming terrain~destructible buildings?).  I think most people are shocked by this transition because it seems to be very much a step in the wrong direction.  A game like Red Faction Guerrilla was exactly the type that needed a sandbox environment.  It seems odd that they would see what people loved so much about that game and step away from it. 
It's the same developer, but yes you are right the third game was very different.  This one seems different from all three really.  I'm just saying I personally am very good at taking each game on its own.  Deus Ex is my favorite game every and Invisible War is not a good sequel to it, but I still like Invisible War as a game.  Know what I mean?
 
It does sound like this game is just flat-out not as good as Guerrilla even without expectations though.
Avatar image for hearse
Posted By Hearse

I'm all for trying something new with a franchise but to take it in a more generic direction isn't the right way to go.

Avatar image for cheesebob
Posted By Cheesebob

Blimey, from the way that Brad was talking about this game on the quick look, it seemed like it was a 2 star game.

Avatar image for ahmadmetallic
Posted By AhmadMetallic

that's a shame 
 
no purchase

Avatar image for floodiastus
Posted By floodiastus

In the age of Minecraft, I am flabberghasted that they decided to make the game less destructible. Give us the whole planet to mold!!!!!

Avatar image for hatking
Edited By HatKing
@StingingVelvet said:

I'm pretty immune to "this game is not like the one before it" disease so I think I will keep my pre-order.  Still it does seem to be more of an average game than a good one by all accounts, which is a shame.  Thanks Brad for not acting like this series was always open world, which several other sites did.  As we all should know RF1 and RF2 were linear games.

Yes, but outside of name, Red Faction and Red Faction 2 were basically a different series, you know?  The story is pretty much entirely new, the developer is new and the gameplay is only vaguely reminiscent (deforming terrain~destructible buildings?). 
 
I think most people are shocked by this transition because it seems to be very much a step in the wrong direction.  A game like Red Faction Guerrilla was exactly the type that needed a sandbox environment.  It seems odd that they would see what people loved so much about that game and step away from it. 
Avatar image for stingingvelvet
Posted By StingingVelvet

I'm pretty immune to "this game is not like the one before it" disease so I think I will keep my pre-order.  Still it does seem to be more of an average game than a good one by all accounts, which is a shame.
 
Thanks Brad for not acting like this series was always open world, which several other sites did.  As we all should know RF1 and RF2 were linear games.

Avatar image for mormonwarrior
Posted By MormonWarrior

This is too bad. I enjoyed the demo but it seems like it didn't expand from there.

Avatar image for fjordson
Posted By Fjordson

Not terribly surprised, this game looks incredibly mediocre. I don't get why they ditched so much that made Guerilla fun. That was one of the most fun open world games ever to just mess around in. 

Avatar image for tadthuggish
Edited By TadThuggish
@lacke said:

@TadThuggish: Totally agree. I think they are very conscious of the impact on Meta-Critic.  I don't think mechanics should affect the review if they didn't affect the enjoyment. The score should reflect how "fun" you had with the game, imo.  Maybe I'm just tainted by Jeff's opinion where he straight out said that he thought the game was boring in the QL. This is Brad's review after all.

No, you're completely right.  As great as the Giant Bomb crew is, they sometimes get stuck in that old corporate journalism mindset where every game gets a 7/10 if it isn't completely broken.  Alex Navarro tweeted "I hate Motorstorm Apocalypse", then gave it a 3/5 because it didn't end up murdering him.  I'm not impressed with a game solely if you press a button and its respective action occurs on screen, and I don't want a fact sheet or checklist; I want to know what specifically they, as fellow human beings, feel.  
 
That train of thought's movie comparison is like a film review saying "it was poop but the lighting rigs worked appropriately, 4/5"
Avatar image for physic
Posted By Physic

Why even call it Red Faction if you are gonna strip out the defining openness and hyper-destructability? Guerilla was one if my favorite games of this generation, disappointing to see this game stray from an incredibly fun and ridiculous formula.

Avatar image for deathpooky
Posted By Deathpooky
@Ladnar: I can only hope.  My ideal vision of Just Cause 3 is that the developers break out in song every time they let in another gravity defying ridiculous concept into their game.
Avatar image for drakeon
Posted By Drakeon

Wished they hadn't messed with Guerrilla's formula and just tried to refine that instead of going this direction :\

Avatar image for csl316
Posted By csl316

Is it better on higher difficulties? In Guerilla it elevated the game from stupid fun to tactical bad assery.

Avatar image for fox01313
Posted By fox01313

Think that if this was a linear 3rd person game but using the setting of RFG it might have worked. Great review Brad & can't wait to get my hands on the game to give it a whirl as it still looks fun, just not something to rush out & buy day 1.

Avatar image for insidioustuna
Posted By InsidiousTuna

That's some really nice boxart. Hadn't looked closely at it before. 

Avatar image for spudbug
Posted By SpudBug

Too bad.
 
I guess i saw it coming though - I didn't even finish the demo before turning it off in boredom and I fell asleep in the middle of the quick look while watching it today.. lol.
 
Shame, I loved Guerilla. Why did they have to go make a linear boring underground shooter??