I sat down to start writing this review early on Queens Birthday and as anyone in Canterbury will know we were hit by some pretty serious aftershocks that day. So after comforting the family, cleaning up the house, and local businesses, here I am after several stiff drinks trying to get my thoughts back in line to write this review. So to avoid any confusion from my following ramblings, I’ll say right now than I really enjoyed Red Faction: Armageddon even if it is a bit on the short side.
Red Faction: Armageddon finds you back on Mars several years after the events of Red Faction: Guerrilla as Darius Mason, grandson of Alec Mason. The Red Faction is stronger and more organised effectively filling the role of the military on Mars. Life is progressing well with a thriving mining industry and a well sustained breathable atmosphere. That is until things conspire against you and you are blamed for events that put the whole of life on Mars at risk. So off you head with a few faithful friends to not only clear your name but to save humanities foothold on Mars.
Considering the open world gameplay that was employed in Red Faction: Guerrilla, some people might be upset to find Armageddon is a very linear game clocking in around the 8 – 10 hour mark to complete. But let me alleviate those worries a little, the story is really great and the voice acting and character interaction is top notch with even a bit of well placed humour. Think Total Recall meets Dead Space and you may have a pretty good picture of Red Faction: Armageddon in your head.
Of course the famous ability to destroy the Martian landscape with the upgraded Geo-Mod 2.0 engine is back, allowing you to wreak havoc as you see fit, or just to collect salvage so you can up grade your arsenal. Complementing these destructive abilities is the Nano-Forge. A super hi-tech wrist watch that can rebuild broken or destroyed structures. Handy when you get carried away with the rocket launcher and destroy a much needed bridge. But the Nano-Forge also has many powerful offensive and defensive capabilities as well. So between the power of the Nano-Forge and the plethora of weapons you can find, including the very cool Magnet Gun, you can expect to be expecting to see plenty of rubble where buildings use to stand (and there we have another earthquake reminder…).
Gameplay has plenty of run and gun but also has you mounting up in various vehicles and exo- suits for added carnage. This really mixes it and and allows you to traverse some otherwise impassable areas. There is also a good mix of urban, underground, and above ground areas to get through, all very pleasing to look at, as are all the characters and creatures. I especially enjoyed the cut scenes as the excellent character interplay was complemented but some great visuals. The audio is also good with some areas in the latter part of the game really utilising surround sound that will have you spinning around to check behind you on a regular basis. The controls are nice and sharp, although a couple of the unique weapons did catch me out at times with their secondary function not mapped to where you would think.
Finishing the game not only unlocks Mr Toots, the ultimate weapon, but also a Game Plus mode which allows to start again with all your weapons and abilities retained. A nice way to take on the harder difficulty levels. Other game modes are the in vogue ‘repel wave after wave of enemies’, this time known as Infestation Mode, which can be tackled by up to four players online. And Ruin Mode which has you select a weapons load out and then gives you very limited time to cause as much destruction as possible. Get the required score and you unlock another area. Oddly Ruin Mode requires an unlock key that is included with the game but second hand buyers and renters will have to pay online for this mode to get unlocked. Odd because it is such a small part of the game that I wouldn’t imagine many bothering with it.
Now like I mentioned Red Faction: Armageddon is very short, with experienced gamers taking well under 10 hours to complete it, but it is one hell of a ride for that short time. Even a couple of play throughs won’t take you very long and throwing Infestation and Ruin Modes into the mix won’t extend the time you spend with Red Faction: Armageddon a hell of a lot. I never rent games but I think this would be a prime candidate if ever there was one. It’s just too much damn fun to miss out on altogether.
Released on 10th June 2011 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.