Let’s get a few things straight as an arrow right off the bat. Any game that lets you use a giant hammer to crush your foes into so many tiny pieces, is alright by me. Any game that lets you—nay, requires you—to use a giant mech suit and assorted robots is all right by me. And Red Faction: Armageddon does all that and much more. It’s a riotous ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Find out why I looked past the bore and enjoyed the gore, after the jump.
Red Faction: Armageddon — Let’s Get to the Smashing
Following on from its predecessors (all three of them), Red Faction has you battling sinister forces and aliens on the red planet, Mars. As I understand it, the previous Red Faction games were revolutionary in their use of destructible environments (and vice versa), but I have never played any of the previous three. This was, thus, my first foray on Mars. In Armageddon, developed by Guerilla Games, you play the hero, Darius Mason. Darius has it tough: first he fails in his mission, and later he falls for an insidious scheme which results in the release of hordes of blood sucking aliens (no acid blood though). The game basically boils down to destroying the alien horde, getting your own back, and saving the lives of those citizens not already gracing the tables of the alien force. For the record, one of those citizens has an…inspiring digital rack, and a keen interest in Darius.
The easiest way to sum up the story is like this: if you have ever watched any B-Grade horror movies, like those from the Hammer era, it’s like one of those: not particularly interesting, but watchable for the occasional gruesome death sequence. By way of example, I watched about three minutes of House of Wax just to see Paris Hilton die a gruesome death. It was a very satisfying three minutes. Red Faction has plenty of those moments, but the storyline plods laconically alongside the action, and you won’t really get caught up in it. That’s okay though; if you agreed with my first two statements in the opening paragraph, you’ll be having so much fun bashing alien heads in with your giant hammer you won’t notice the plod-like story, and trust me when I say “you don’t really need to”.
The third person gun and smash game-play of Red Faction: Armageddon is what got me hooked. There are several small RPG elements in this game, and I immediately stuffed all the skill points I could muster into anything that would allow me to get up close and personal with the alien scum. I’m hardcore like that (in my little digital world, anyhow). Getting up close and personal can be fairly difficult though; the aliens jump around and shoot you from all over. They hang on the roof, come from below, and just in general make nuisances of themselves [Ed: So very much like every alien in existence?]. The only problem with the aliens is that there aren’t very many varieties, but all varieties do make a satisfying splash as you cave their heads in or shoot them off the walls.
Darius wears a fancy nano-bracelet thing on his wrist that allows him to do all manner of cool things. There’s a force field, a force smash thing, and a few others. It’s all very Jedi-like, just properly explained for once. And then there is the destructible environment. Almost everything can be smashed and later rebuilt using your nano-thingamajig. There’s even an ultra-fun magnet gun. You make one object attracted to another (and no, you cannot use it on the female love interest and your nether regions). For example, fire one at an alien and one at a wall, and they will meet in a sweet embrace of blood and guts and stone. But just as much as you can use the environment as a weapon, the environment can be the death of you too. I’m an idiot sometimes [Ed: Not touching this one. Too easy], but on about the fifth time I hammer-smashed the walkway from underneath me in an attempt to squash a slippery bug and plummeted to my messy death, I realized that “sometimes” was more like “most of the time” [Ed: Told you it was too easy].
While the game suffers a bit in the boring parts, I forgave them all the moment I got to pilot my first mech. Later in the game, you get another mech with bigger guns, and even later, an even bigger one with even bigger guns. Take note game developers: if you feel your game is lacking something, it probably needs a destructive robot mech suit. Before long, I’ll be reminiscing about the last good MechWarrior game and through my tears of childish joy I won’t notice your game’s otherwise glaring faults [Ed: Didn’t seem to work for Level 5 and White Knight Chronicles…].
There was a small hiccup on my ride through Mars. Before playing this game, in another moment of idiocy, I managed to smash my glasses, and therefore I couldn’t tell you whether the graphics were pixel-perfect. While the explosions were big and awesome and suitably… explosiony, I’m not sure if they were rendered amazingly well: alas my world is a little fuzzy right now.
Red Faction throws in a few fun extras alongside the single player campaign. Ruin mode involves smashing as much as possible in a short time. It’s fairly straightforward, but minus the aliens. I prefer smashing aliens. There’s also Infestation mode, which is pretty much Left 4 Dead survival, and considering how much fun the destruction and alien smashing can be, in a team of four it can only be better. I’ll be giving it another go in the coming weeks and I’m sure looking forward to swinging my hammer once more.
While Red Faction: Armageddon is an enjoyable game with dynamic gameplay, hammer smashing goodness and delightfully destructible environments, it lacks somewhat in the story department. The plot, while not essential to enjoyment of the game, is lackluster and… boring. Moments of sheer excitement, crazy explosions and hectic fights are contrasted with times of boring repetitiveness. Overall an entertaining game that provides a great deal of fun when it’s at its best and is only let down by the moments when it is at it’s worst. I would play it again and I would enjoy it again, therefore I would give it a perfectly acceptable score of 8/10.