Red Faction: Armageddon: review


  • Format: 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: THQ, Syfy Games
  • Developer: Volition, Inc.
  • Players: 1 (offline), 2-4 (online)
  • Site:

Red Faction: Armageddon is a dumb, stupid game. Not in the way Gears of War is either. That game is intelligently stupid, wearing its absurd machismo proudly. The problem with Red Faction is the same problem with most games of this kind – it aspires to be something it tragically isn’t. It tries to be smart, when it is indeed quite dumb, so even though you’re having fun, you’re constantly reminded that what you’re playing is woefully generic.

As a follow-up to Red Faction: Guerrilla, Armageddon takes some hard turns away from that entry’s design philosophy. Gone is the open world, the sprawling Martian landscape, and the freedom to make your own approach on an objective. Armageddon is a strictly linear corridor shooter with a tight, over-the-shoulder camera perspective, and alien monsters to mow down in large numbers.

It’s not much of a stretch to say Armageddon has taken several cues from Dead Space. The similarities are uncanny. The strictly dark, dank environments are a huge departure from the dusty red of Mars, and much closer to the claustrophobic Ishimura in Dead Space. The droves of monsters crawl and shamble towards you with the same ridiculous gait of a necromorph, except here they are alien creatures, not mangled corpses. If you’re the type that finds video game monsters silly, rather than scary, Armageddon is going to be comedy hour for you.


The point is that while Armageddon can be very fun at times, it ditches a lot of the previous game’s charm. Instead, it guns for a style that was already derivative when Dead Space did it, but doesn’t offer nearly the same level of polish or intensity. Again, it aspires to be something it tragically isn’t.

The one saving grace, the one hearty bit of gameplay that holds the entire experience together, is the environment destruction. The benefit of the linear design seems to be an even better version of Volition’s Geo-Mod technology. The new tech allows for awesome weapons like the magnet gun, which essentially allows you to toss half a building at a crowd of enemies.

As the game progresses, the environments become more and more complex. At the halfway point you’ll be annihilating multi-tiered structures from the inside out. Often you’ll even destroy your only way out of a room, which is where the other half of the new Geo-Mod tech comes in. Using your repair tool, you can rebuild any structure you destroy. The effect looks really cool and doesn’t get old, even by the end of the game’s 6-8 hour campaign.


What does get old is the uneven level design. While there are moments that focus on cool destruction, there are nearly as many moments where you navigate long corridors with little to work with but your standard guns. The basic combat isn’t bad by any stretch, but it’s not terribly satisfying either. If Armageddon stuck to its strengths, it’d be a lot easier to forgive some of its other flaws.

What holds this awkwardly-paced campaign together is a story that simply takes itself too seriously. You are Darius Mason, a bald-headed everyman with a cleavage-bearing love interest, a gruff “Sarge”-style friend, and some mild daddy issues. The one interesting bit of the story is the arc Darius takes, beginning the game by unintentionally sabotaging his grandfather’s name (Alec Mason from Guerrilla), and then attempting to fix the big mess he’s created. Unfortunately, his bumbling heroism is handled in just about the most predictable manner possible, with the story painting him as a completely just and sympathetic protagonist.

The presentation doesn’t help matters. If there was one page Volition should have stolen from Dead Space’s playbook, it’s the consistent over-the-shoulder view of the action. Armageddon is lousy with cutscene breaks where the action fades to black to show a CG Mason dance around danger for thirty seconds at a time.


Red Faction: Guerrilla had a full 16-player multiplayer mode. Unfortunately not enough people played it. To solve that issue, Volition has gone in a different direction for multiplayer in Armageddon. What you get is a 4-player co-op mode against waves of the game’s various monsters. With the destruction element in full effect, it can actually be a ton of fun.

The problem with the multiplayer, and the problem with the game in general, is that the fun rides so heavily on the destruction element. Thankfully the game doesn’t overstay its welcome, but that’s also a problem. The package you’re getting with Armageddon is anemic compared to the one Guerrilla offered.

Red Faction: Armageddon isn’t a bad game, and if you can turn your brain off for a bit, you may have a ton of fun with it. The problems come when you start to think, because the game isn’t offering much to think about. In a world where we can have our cake and eat it too, with fun experiences, good stories, and novel gameplay, Armageddon just isn’t as worthy of your time as its predecessor, or many other games that have come out this year.


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Written by Joe D

Inspired by a love for obscure Sega Saturn games in the 90s, Joe is pretty much open to anything gaming has to offer. What he looks for in a game: creativity and strong design, or sometimes just an overwhelming sense of style.

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