|Review: Red Faction: Armageddon|
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 09:32
Red Faction Armageddon (RF:A), a third person shooter that features innovative weapons and unique game mechanics, is failed by repetitive combat and a poor plot. Fans of the series might enjoy this more than its predecessor, but even so the game isn’t anything more than average.
RF:A is the follow up to 2009’s Red Faction: Guerilla in which you played Alex Mason, a rebel initiating an uprising on Mars. Red Faction: Guerilla was a typical open world adventure but the game was lauded for being the first with a completely destructible environment.
The destructible environments remain in Armageddon but the gameplay is actually quite different and whether or not you liked Guerilla, you should definitely give this game a chance.
Events in Armageddon take place 50 years after the uprising of the previous game. This time round you play Darius Mason, the grandson of Alex. In the opening sequence, a local cult leader, Hale, destroys the terraformers controlling the atmosphere of Mars and the inhabitants are driven underground. A few years later Hale coopts an unwitting Mason into destroying an ominous seal in a recently uncovered chamber. Cue infinite hellspawn and Mason spends the rest of the story trying to prevent the impending Armageddon. The story is reminiscent of Dead Space and Doom in both story and feel, just much less scary.
As with the previous Red Faction game, you’re able to use the environment to your advantage. You can collapse a building onto baddies, throw building debris or explosive barrels at them, making for enthralling action sequences. From the ruins of buildings you’re able to collect ‘salvage’ -- the in-game currency. This can be traded at an upgrade station for increases to health and upgrades to your abilities.
Some of the weapons from Guerilla, like the Maul, rocket launcher and assault rifle, remain but there’s a plethora of new weapons: the two mentionable are the singularity cannon (bullets are black holes) and my personal favourite, the magnet gun. If you shoot at a building with the magnet gun and then at the ground next to some hellspawn, the entire building comes crashing down on top of them. Alternatively, shooting at an enemy and then off into the distance send them flying. It’s one of the most inventive weapons I’ve experienced in years. The weakest element of the weapons is the snap aiming system which makes aiming ridiculously easy and results in gameplay becoming repetitive very quickly.
After you finish the story you also get access to the “Mr. Toots” gun – a unicorn that farts out deadly, destructive rainbows. Also, in your second playthrough you’re allowed to purchase cheats using salvage. These give you access to unlimited ammo, new weapons or visuals filters. All of these add to the replayability of the game.
Beyond the traditional weapons, Mason has nanoforge abilities: impact (an energy wave), shell (protective barrier), a shockwave (stasis) and berserk. These abilities add another dimension during combat and become essential since the game doesn’t use a cover system. The nanoforge also has the handy ability to repair any bridge, equipment or cover that’s been destroyed during combat.
Mason uses a number of vehicles and suits during the story. The LEO exoskeleton from Guerilla makes an appearance (much like the robot suit from Aliens), but is surpassed in size and firepower by the addition of three other vehicles -- the Inferno GX (think Cylon Raider), Mantis and Scout Walker -- all equally fun to maneuver.
One of the weakest areas of the game is the lack of creature variety. There are four basic types of baddies: the cultist (humanoid), creepers (crawling), the ravager(jumping) and monolith-tentacle. The baddies throughout the game are just variations of the above with slightly different abilities and strengths and size.
There are two other game modes – Ruins and the multiplayer Infestation. Both of these are great additions to the rather short campaign mode. In Ruins you have to rack up points for destroying buildings and structures and scores are posted to a competitive leaderboard. In Infestation, you team up with three friends to takes on waves of hellspawn in a Horde mode. Even though you are able to play Infestation alone, it becomes much more tactical --- and fun -- when played with three friends. Alternatively, you can find an XBOX live match and jump in with some strangers. Lag was almost non-existent, but the players constantly left the games I was in, which can become very frustrating.
Even though many Red Faction: Guerilla fans will be disappointed by the lack of open world play, the tighter linear storyline works well with the destruction based gameplay. New weapons, abilities and vehicles compensate for the lack of variety in baddies, large holes in the plot and repetitive combat. Even though I doubt that Red Faction: Armageddon will be a Game of the Year candidate, it is worth playing.
Pros: Tight linear storyline (might not appeal to Guerilla fans); multitude of weapons and vehicles; longevity in the Infestation and Ruins modes; 'cheats'.
Cons: Major plotholes in the story; repetitive combat; short single player campaign; lack of variety in baddies; no split-screen multiplayer.
Playing time: 8 hours for single player mission
Achievement Difficulty: 5/10
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