First Look – Red Faction: Armageddon

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If you’re familiar with the franchise, the name “Red Faction: Guerrilla” probably awakens
memories of dismantling buildings with a hammer, exploring open-world martian terrain,
and wreaking havoc in the name of freedom. Red Faction: Armageddon, the latest and
final entry in the franchise, tries to do what Guerrilla did… linear console-game style. Not
cool.

For those unfamiliar with Red Faction, it’s an over-the-shoulder shooter with a largely
(but not fully) destructible environment. On Mars. In Armageddon, the premise is that
the terraformer that maintains a stable environment, thereby allowing human beings to
live there, is destroyed. Giant bug-infested havoc ensues.

I just finished the single player campaign (about 7-8 hours) on “insane” difficulty.
Apparently the devs aren’t aware that when a gamer clicks on the insane button, they’re
expecting to die. I maintain that this is a first look as there’s a lot of other content in
the game between a DLC campaign and multiple game modes besides the campaign.
The experience was rather fun, with a lot of audible oohs and aahs from yours truly
as interesting mechanics were introduced. For example, you receive a repair module
early on that allows you to regenerate metal objects in a small area in front of you. This
element allows you to do stupid things, such as destroy a bridge you need to cross,
then regenerate it as you walk across it.

One such element deserves special attention, because it both makes and ruins the
game: The Magnet Gun. An innocuous little device, the magnet gun is a two-part
weapon. With your first shot, you may only shoot something that can be magnetized,
such as floors, ceilings, concrete (?), and… almost every enemy in the game. With your
second shot, you create a magnetic field that flings what you first targeted into what
you shot afterwards. This has obvious utility, giving you the ability to pull out-of-reach
powerups toward you or easily destroy buildings that you need to destroy to continue.
However, the fact that you can use it on nearly every enemy in the game…

Once I received the magnet gun and realized that I could fling enemies almost wherever
the heck I wanted, I stopped using my other weapons. You can carry four weapons,
and there’s a lot of interesting ones, but why bother when you can just thrust that
gigantic bug into the ceiling repeatedly? That’s not even the worst of it. The magnet
gun essentially enables you to effortlessly tear apart buildings by burying enemies
alive in the wreckage, no matter where they are. It’s even worse when there’s a fatal
environmental hazard such as a bottomless pit or a pool of lava. Normally, a tough
enemy on insane would take several clips of ammo. Not with the magnet gun: Shoot,
shoot. Instant barbecue.

This little game-changing device really does screw up the experience as a whole. The game is neither challenging nor interesting with its unlimited use. I’m exploring the rest of the game, however, and it may yet have multiple redeeming qualities. As of now? Red Faction fans should consider getting it if it’s on sale and you don’t mind a linear console game. Really on sale. Otherwise, you should probably spend your money elsewhere.

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