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Red Faction: Armageddon review

AT A GLANCE
  • Super fun weapons and vehicles
  • Intense crescendo moments
  • Value-extending Infestation mode
  • Conventional corridor shooter foundation
  • Aliens look too similar
  • Not as revelatory as Guerrilla

Red Faction: Guerrilla surprised gamers with its open-world approach and creative application of destruction options. Red Faction: Armageddon will surprise Guerrilla fans who haven’t been following preview coverage, because in many ways it does the opposite of Guerrilla: instead of an open world you get linear corridors; instead of tons of vehicles to tool around in, you get a handful of vehicles to use in specific levels (but the vehicles are all awesome); instead of human enemies you get (mostly) alien monsters. Armageddon is still a good game, but if you want more of the freeform mayhem Guerrilla offered, you may be unhappy with the new direction.


Above: "You are one ugly, muthaf-"

We’re not sure why developers Volition decided to do away with the open world – maybe they felt they’d done all they could with it. Maybe they got tired of human enemies and realized monsters are scarier in dark caves. Maybe the artists got sick of texturing red and brown mountains. Armageddon is what it is, but it handles its new approach always competently and sometimes expertly. The big question is: is “linear” a bad word to you? It isn’t for us, because we can enjoy the more focused experience of a linear action game. If being funneled down caverns sounds really unappealing, approach Armageddon with serious caution, but the game offers plenty of delights, especially if you enjoyed the destruction from Guerrilla, because the weapons in Armageddon get cuh-razy.

While there are standard weapons in the game – an assault rifle, a shotgun, some pistols, a rocket launcher, etc. – and which are mostly holdovers from the last game, their aesthetic design is top-notch. The guns have heavy punch and delicious sounds when fired; for example the Banshees are slow-firing, high damage dual pistols that just sound and feel flat-out nasty. This stuff is all well and good, but the real fun begins when you start acquiring the weird weapons. The favorite for many will be the Magnet Gun. First you shoot some destructible part of the environment (or an enemy). Then, you shoot some other part of the world – it can be a wall, enemy, or anything really. Whatever you attached the first shot to is then sucked toward the second shot. If you first shoot a building, a section of the structure will rip off and break into pieces and then the cloud of junk flies across the level.

With that one gun you can create a symphony of death. If you’re fast, you can have debris hurtling through a cavern from multiple directions like an underground hurricane, and anything caught in the middle gets torn up or slammed into the walls. The weapon is basically overpowered (it has unlimited ammo!) if you get creative with it, although luckily it isn’t the catchall weapon for the game because it just doesn’t kill swarms of close-range enemies quickly enough, or safely enough, since you can easily catch yourself in the maelstrom. It may not be as novel as the Gravity Gun from Half-life or the Portal Gun, but we never got tired of using it throughout the 8-10 hour campaign.


Above: The Banshees. Properly named, properly gangster

There’s also the Charge Launcher, which is like a souped-up version of the Mining Charges from Guerrilla: you can fire sticky bombs rapidly and then manually detonate them in quick succession. For precision area of effect work (sounds like a contradiction, right?) you can go with the Energy Grenade Launcher, which specifically targets biomatter, so you can throw explosives around with abandon and not worry about significant structural damage, which is important when you’re standing on a fragile catwalk and don’t want to make yourself fall to your death. If you are interested in structural damage, what could be better than the Plasma Beam, which creates a continuous stream of searing energy which disintegrates anything it touches? You can “draw” across the environment, cutting a tower in half like slicing through a banana. And finally there’s the Singularity Cannon, which creates a miniature black hole at the point of impact, sucking in all enemies and structural material before exploding it back outward. It’s awe-inspiring.

You also have a tool called the Nanoforge this time around, which changes up the idea of destruction completely, since now you can rebuild whatever you destroy. It can become a sort of obsession if you let it: just hold down the button and run around, watching stairs, catwalks, and entire buildings reform in seconds. It’s hard to resist making sure every inch of railing is intact. It also has some nifty secondary abilities that run on cooldowns, allowing you to repel enemies with a frontal blast, stun and float close-up foes, enter a berserk mode, and set up a shell to deflect projectiles. In the later stages you absolutely need to use these abilities to survive, which makes the game increasingly tactical.


Above: It's hard to tell what this is, but it's a huge walker vehicle you'll drive late in the game, and it's fabulous

Those aren’t all of the items in the game, but they are the most interesting. Yet Armageddon is all about toys, so the vehicles it makes available are all joyful engines of destruction. Whereas Guerrilla provided many different kinds of vehicles to drive, Armageddon offers but a few – but each one is unique and hilariously powerful. There’s the Exo suit, which is like a really small mech. It has machine guns and rockets, but its most endearing ability is a shoulder charge that lets you play linebacker with buildings. Nothing can stand up to its juggernaut bull-rush. There are two spider-like walkers with x-ray vision and some of the most evil anti-infantry weaponry ever. The bigger mech has something called the Napalm Laser – two words that have never been more suited to be joined. When you fire it, you can draw the laser across the ground, and then a moment later whatever the laser touched erupts in columns of fire. It just tickles the reptilian part of the brain that says “Huh, huh… boom.” There’s even a flying section of the game that reminds us of old-ass PC game Descent, where you fly through corridors and rain hell on poor little aliens.

More Info

Release date: Jun 07 2011 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
Jun 10 2011 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Volition
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

25 comments

  • kabonm - July 11, 2011 7:23 a.m.

    The main Winnipeg Asian Escort difference Winnipeg Escort with the previous incarnation (ant based), is that now there needs to Winnipeg Asian Escorts be no special directory layout of the extension to allow building an ezpackage, all you need Winnipeg Escorts is an package.xml file in the extension root dir
  • kabonm - July 11, 2011 7:17 a.m.

    We're not sure why developers Volition decided to do away with the open world – maybe they felt they'd done all they could with it
  • p0wnd - June 17, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    Aliens look simular? Because aliens in Halo, Mass Effect 2 and soldiers in Bad Company and COD don't look in the least bit simular. This is a great game, think it deserved an 8 at least
  • SerpentineZERO - June 3, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    Didn't Guerrilla have a price drop not long after its launch? Hopefully this does the same, as then i would get the game. Between this and the Deathsmiles 2x review, it seems like the 7 score is more positive than it once was. Not that i have a problem with that.
  • Manguy17 - June 2, 2011 9:17 p.m.

    felt like a 7 when I played it, nothing seriously wrong with it but nothing stood out too much to me either
  • TriforcePlayer - June 2, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    8-10 hours? NOPE.
  • HardlyBirdman - June 2, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    No Wrecking Crew local co-op? After playing with my brother (who hadn't even looked at the mode), that's the only reason I bought Guerilla. It's like Burnout crash mode, but with buildings. Been a great hit with friends. Online leaderboards just don't provide the same satisfaction.
  • Fusionmix - June 2, 2011 12:41 p.m.

    Descent isn't old-ass! It's...it's... D: They're never making a D4, are they?
  • philipshaw - June 2, 2011 12:41 p.m.

    Score seems about right from what I played of the demo
  • Rhymenocerous - June 2, 2011 9:32 a.m.

    They should have just improved the open world structure, made it slightly more tactical, removed the repetivity etc. rather than do away with it completely.
  • FinderKeeper - June 2, 2011 7:17 a.m.

    I'm definitely getting this; but as some of the others here, I think I'll be getting it when it goes on sale. Probably when it hits the magic $30 (new) price point. I do hope that Volition can someday bring the elements of the first Red Faction game back, either with the game itself (as an "HD remake") or by including some tunneling (and first-person viewpoint) in the next game, provided there is one. I was holding off on buying/pre-ordering until I read some reviews of the game itself and of the "Battlegrounds" arcade game (which seemed to be an uninspired cash-in on the brand name rather than a "prequel" to the upcoming game). As long as I can still blow stuff up like I could in RF: Guerrilla, it'll be worthwhile. Just not $60 worth of worthwhile...
  • PlainLikeVanilla - June 2, 2011 1:53 a.m.

    @nemesisuprising Me too!!! It drives me crazy! I hold my hand over the right side of the screen until I finish reading the review. I really liked Guerrilla but the linearity of this worries me. Is the destruction key to the game like Guerrilla or is it more of just an addition?
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - June 1, 2011 10:30 p.m.

    I played the demo, and didn't use anything else besides the manget gun.
  • Spybreak8 - June 1, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    Like the first, I'll pick up when the game goes on sale 4 to 5 months from now.
  • papanesta - June 1, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    Similar review score as Game Informer, but much more positive review. Was pretty much sold after playing the demo anyway.
  • QWERTYCommander - June 1, 2011 8:19 p.m.

    @nemesisuprising I agree. GR, please fix this in the near future.
  • nemesisuprising - June 1, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    can you guys remove the score from the right side of the page? whenever im reading a review I dont wanna know until the end, and I always end up seeing the score anyways halfway through the page
  • Jaces - June 1, 2011 7:04 p.m.

    Haven't played a good Red Faction games since the second installment. Guerrilla didn't interest me in the least, but I'm willing to give this one a go once the price drops a bit...maybe worth a rent?
  • NanoElite666 - June 1, 2011 6:35 p.m.

    There's a black hole gun eh? Sounds like someone's been taking cues from Ratchet & Clank.
  • Pudge - June 1, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    Is there no Deathmatch multiplayer options in Armageddon? That really blows. They did the same thing with Saints Row, first one had a fun, varied multiplayer suite, and the second one was garbage for that stuff. My favorite part of Gurillia was the multiplayer only backpacks and waiting around the corner with a sledgehammer to kill guys. Horde mode is nice, but I was hoping for some sort of competitive mode as well.

Showing 1-20 of 25 comments

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