Just like the Belmont family, Red Faction’s Mason family seem to never get a break, fighting in a rebellion, a war and now a full scale invasion. After all these year on Mars you would have thought the family would’ve packed up and left for somewhere nicer, maybe try out a Saturn cruise, everyone raves about them.
Your character Darius Mason is a member of Red Faction and we join his regiment right in the middle of a fierce battle on Mars’ surface. Since the last game Mars has successfully been terraformed, creating breathable air on the red planet. However not every one is grateful for the progress and self proclaimed messiah Adam Hale and his followers the Marauders blow up the terraformer, causing the inhabitants of Mars to go underground; problem is, they are not alone down there.
The action is an over the shoulder shooter, with you taking Darius through various tunnels and towns whilst battling hundreds of aliens. The more linear direction of Armageddon surprised me after the huge playable world of the previous game; now the game just points you in a general direction, asks you to clear an area of hostiles, repair or use something and then move on. The story tries to bring some anguish to Darius as he feels responsible for the destruction of the terraformer and the subsequent release of the killer alien horde but there is little sympathy as he did it, albeit after being tricked by Adam Hale.
As with previous Red Faction games it’s all about the destruction and Volition’s GeoMod engine has never looked better, allowing you to lay waste to pretty much anything that gets in your way or that you just don’t like the look of. Of course with all the destructible items around you, you need something to destroy them with and Darius is rarely left wanting. The Mason family heirloom, the Nano Forge, which is attached to Darius’ wrist, allows for close attacks like a strong kinetic push to destroy walls and anything else that happens to get in it’s way, a shockwave that stuns enemies, a protective shell to shield you and a berserk mode which increases speed and damage. The most impressive addition is the reconstructive powers. Accidentally blow up a bridge or walkway, with the Nano Forge you can rebuild in real time what was there before. This is also extremely helpful during battle, with some of the larger enemies destroying cover all around you, you are able to rebuild relatively quickly to allow Darius time to heal.
Though good with his hands, sometimes to get the job done Darius needs some decent tools and Armageddon supplies you with some of the best. Of course the signature Maul sledgehammer makes a return along with some standards like dual pistols, rail driver and assault rifles and then you have the big guns, a nano rifle that eats through anything, the singularity cannon that fires a black hole and the magnet gun which allows you to connect two items together with a magnetic bind, creating some vicious and hilarious ways to dispose of enemies. If a portable black hole generator isn’t enough for you then Darius is also able to hop into huge mech’s at certain points to bring even more pain to the Martian menace.
Once the rubble has settled in each area you will have time to collect items like audio recordings left over from citizens before and during the alien attack and salvage from downed buildings which can be used in Upgrade Stations to upgrade your Nano Forge with even more powers. The offline and online worlds are seamlessly connected here so with every upgrade and weapon you locate you can use in either mode.
Away from the story mode, Armageddon offers a couple of time wasters that don’t really do enough to excite the gamer. The Ruin Mode returns with a decent selection of structures to destroy as quick as possible, with an online leaderboard to compare times and scores with friends. The Infestation Mode is a horde style survial game where you need to kill wave after wave of Martians whilst carrying out certain missions with a group of friends. Due to the sharing of weaponry on and offline it seems better to upgrade and play most of the single player first as going up against hundreds of aliens with a couple of pistols isn’t the brightest of ideas.
Overall, Red Faction: Armageddon is a great looking game with some incredible destructive environments that have been tarnished by a shallow story and extremely linear gameplay. This title does seem to have more in common with the original Red Faction games, however doesn’t give enough bang for it’s buck and therefore may only appeal to fans of the original games.
Rating: Average Review policy
You can order a copy of Red Faction: Armageddon here (Xbox 360), here (PS3) and here (PC).