Though I have not played many of the red faction games I was always intrigued by the way in which they attempted to add terrain and building destruction to games to make games feel a little more real world. There’s nothing stranger than firing a massive energy weapon at some enemies obliterating them but leaving the world around them completely intact.
There have been a few red faction games touting the destructible world mechanics and as the march of technology moves on so too does the ability to destroy. Other games have started adding features like this, most notably Battlefield Bad Company, which although has great destruction is limited by the fact that destruction has to be synced to everyone and so can’t be too complex. The destruction in Red Faction Armageddon is exrtemely complex and sometimes looks stunning to watch.
Armageddon carries on where the previous games left off, Mars still in the swing of some kind of conflict currently with an ugly looking cultist named Hale. The long and the short of it is that in Armageddon you are tricked into releasing an ancient enemy on Mars, one which thrives in Mars’ original atmosphere. Hence Hale blows the terraformer keeping Mars habitable to humans. These bug creatures are your main enemy and you’ll be killing thousands of them. They are faceless, emotionless and most of all annoying, they flit about from wall to wall annoying you with some kind of bio lasers.
The game starts out giving you plenty of scope to destroy stuff, there’s a smattering of enemies and it’s quite east to mess around flinging buildings at them and then destroying everything in sight with the plethora of weapons to earn salvage. This part of the game for me was the sweet spot, I was able to play around and enjoy the weapons and physics and sample what makes this game unique. However, this didn’t last long and as you progress through the levels destructible buildings and opportunities to enjoy the ‘game’ dwindle. By the end you’re pretty much just playing a sub-par shooter with droves and droves of annoying enemies.
That said, Armageddon is not a bad game, it’s probably worth a rent and took me around 5 or 6 hours to complete, aside from the lack of terrain to destroy you’ll enjoy the plethora of overpowered and spectacular weaponry, from the rifle that vaporises enemies in a blue haze to the singularity cannon that sucks everything in before exploding rather satisfyingly. There’s something else that Armageddon does extremely well with weapons too and that’s ammo, so many games give you a bunch of great weapons but due to lack of ammo you either get to use them very little or hoard the ammo ‘just in case’. Armageddon does away with this by using the same ammo for every weapon, you can pick up small canisters of ammo which replenish any ‘small arms’ you have equipped and bigger boxes which have ammo for everything you’re carrying. This works great as it’s always one of my main complaints about shooter games, you can use whatever weapons you want and the ammo and enemies are balanced in a way that will make you use as many different weapons as possible.
The other thing that Armageddon does very well is the destruction (when it’s there). You can explode, vaporise, fling and shockwave buildings and walls to pieces. One of the greatest gems of the game is the magnet gun, you fire one shot at an object and another at another object or wall and the first projectile is pulled towards the other bringing anything it’s attached to with it. It is a great way of destroying buildings and even throwing them at enemies to kill them. Along with the other very powerful, nice looking and sounding weapons you will have a ton of fun destroying.
But how does Armageddon solve the age old problem that destroying everything around you will cause you not to be able to complete levels? Our hero sports the ‘nanoforge’ which with a quick click rebuilds anything and everything you point it at. The nanoforge is also used throughout gameplay to repair objects in order to complete objectives. The same is also true of your destructive powers, but used to a lesser degree.
At first glance everything in Armageddon is right from the physics, weapons and graphics to the great controls. The cracks appear as you get deeper into the game where you stop engaging enemies in wide open arenas full of destructible buildings and you start hunting insects in cramped tunnels. It’s a real shame because Armageddon could have been a real jewel of gaming, it could have been what Red Faction should have been but they dropped the ball by making little use of the destruction and making it a dull, run of the mill shooter.
Other problems include framerate issues when you destroy certain complex buildings and the pacing of the campaign, there are cutscenes sometimes every few minutes and the game really doesn’t seem to ramp up the challenge as you go it rather decides just to trundle along and then increase the number of enemies tenfold near the very end and the last few ‘missions’ seemed to take forever.
In conclusion, give it a rent enjoy a playthrough and then send it back then reminisce about what could have been.