It’s been roughly ten years since the original Red Faction game was released, which allowed gamers to alter their environments in ways no other game could offer. It was a popular game and sparked two more games in the following years. Fast forward to the present day and we see the release of Volition’s latest dash of destruction in Red Faction: Armageddon, but has the novelty of destroying everything finally worn off?
It’s been a good fifty years since we saw Alec Mason do his job in freeing Mars from the grip of the EDF, and now his grandson, Darius, has found himself in a sticky situation of his own. The game begins with Darius being caught up in a terrorist attack on Mars that destroys a terraformer and forces Mars’ inhabitants to live underground. If this wasn’t already bad enough, only a few years later Darius is at it again and, unknowingly, assists the leader of the same terrorist group to free an alien buglike race known as The Plague. Of course this causes major problems for the surrounding colonies, so your mission is to stop the terrorist group and allow the people of Mars to once again live without fear of being destroyed.
Although the story seems simple enough after reading the paragraph above (or at least I hope it does), it isn't so clear cut whilst playing through the game, and it took a good few hours to understand what was actually going on. What was clear from the get go was that the Nano Forge is awesome. So what is the Nano Forge? It is a device in Mason’s arsenal that allows him to rebuild or fix pretty much any object in the game. This will probably be your favourite tool as you progress through the game. The Nano Forge can be used in a variety of ways, from simply rebuilding bridges so that you can progress through the game, to fixing structures in a certain way that will collapse them to take out your enemies or block their path. If this wasn’t enough there is a large variety of weapons available to Mason, from plasma launchers, machine guns and the Magnet Gun, a weapon that allows you to shoot two magnets onto things and pull them together - a weapon that can cause some serious destruction!
The game features a decent upgrade system with different tiers of abilities being unlocked as you progress through the story mode. All of these abilities are bought with salvaged goods that you find throughout the game and exchange them at upgrade stations dotted throughout each level. Next to these upgrade stations are weapon lockers that allow you to switch out your weapons, as you can only carry four available weapons at any time. All of the abilities and weapons you unlock in the single player are also unlocked for use in the multiplayer and vice versa so, if you are getting a little bored of the single player or don’t feel powerful enough to take on your enemies, you can hop on over to multiplayer and obtain more abilities. Sadly though, the multiplayer part of this game isn’t that great, but some modes such as Infestation mode, which is similar to GoW’s “Horde” mode and Ruin mode, can have you racking up big scores in a certain time by destroying the game's environment, which is great fun with your friends or random strangers.
For all of its greatness, Red Faction: Armageddon does have some rather annoying additions. Not being allowed to backtrack at certain parts in the game is one, where you're fighting a large group of enemies and then suddenly see a timer pop up on your screen telling you to get back into the fighting zone. This can be rather off-putting and ruin the whole game experience. The bread crumb trail that comes up with a hit of the select button to help you find your way isn’t really needed either, as the game is quite linear in comparison to its predecessors, and small issues such as poor loading times and the obvious video cut scenes just make the game feel a little awkward. Also, considering this was played on the PS3, the graphics looked a bit grainy and some of the environments were a little bland to say the least.
Red Faction: Armageddon has some solid features which make it stand out from the crowd, but it lacks some of the charm that made its predecessors so popular. The Nano Forge and Magnet Gun will keep you entertained throughout the game, and obviously being able to destroy anything in your path is an awesome aspect. If you’ve never played a Red Faction game you will have a lot of fun with this one, but fans of the series may be a little put off with the changes to multiplayer however, the campaign should be enough to satisfy all your destructive needs.