Red Faction Armageddon
AMD Phenom II x4
AMD HD5000 series
Red Faction is a series that’s had its share of ups and downs. The first game blew people away, with a level of destructibility that still has not been matched. Then the second was entirely meh, and almost killed the franchise. Until Guerrilla took a bold, new approach, and paid off so well, it’s widely recognised as the best in the series. And now, we have Armageddon. Which mixed it up again. But did it pay off?
Well, sales figures would indicate not. But how important are sales? They don’t count do they? Of course they bloody do. If a game bombs, financially, it’s a failure. And Armageddon, sadly, did not sell nearly as well as THQ had hoped. In fact, it’s reception was even less positive than the abysmally bland and generic Red Faction 2. And, honestly, I really don’t understand why.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say Armageddon is the best in the series, the first game still has that little bit extra, despite it’s age. But, on the whole, it comes out at level pegging with Guerrilla. It’s a different kind of game, with some things better, and some worse. The choice to go back to a linear path, I think, is what turned most people away. They seem to forget that Red Faction has always been primarily linear. Even Guerrilla, despite it’s sandbox setting, still followed the actual plot in a set order.
And there’s the thing. The plot, this time, is the strongest they’ve had. It flows at a steady pace, never seeming to drag, or suffer from excessive padding. With narrative elements that harken all the way back to the first game, and finally give us a full explanation of what the Ultor virus was all about. It’s aliens, in case you’re wondering. And no, this isn’t something that just comes out of nowhere, it ties directly to Doctor Capek.
This is not to say that the story is perfect. There are some things about it that made me cringe. Specifically, one event towards the end. I don’t want to give spoilers, but let me say this. There is a plot convenience death, which you can see coming a million miles away, and is completely unnecessary. Along with some other niggly annoyances, like needing to have seen the Red Faction Origins TV movie (which I thoroughly recommend by the way) to have any idea who Adam Hale is. This holds it back from being truly spectacular.
Graphically, however, now that’s a different story. The game is gorgeous, with some of the most impressive lighting effects on the market. There are more advanced effects, yes, but few that look so damned pretty. Despite being an obvious console port, Volition really put the effort in, offering some great Dx11 tweaks that really make the game shine. Fantastic animations, richly detailed environments and outstanding visual effects. It’s a lush, mystifying treat for your eyes. And runs extremely smooth.
All alone in the night
Sound quality is even better. Everything from the music (which, sadly, can be overpowering during cinematics) to the incidental sounds, to the weapon noises. If the visuals were near perfect, the sound in this game is beyond perfection itself. Even with only stereo speakers, the level of immersion they can build is impossible to describe. And if you’re only using stereo, shame on you. Armageddon, alone, is reason enough to get a 5.1 kit. Or, at the very least, some gaming headphones. Trust me, you will not regret it.
The weapons are equally satisfying. When I finally started using them that is. Early in the game, you are given a magnet gun Which allows you to fire two magnets. One anchored, and the other mobile. The second being pulled to the first, along with everything it touches. And you can attach them to just about anything. Really, this is so much damned fun it should be illegal. And was my go to weapon for almost the entire game. But, yeah, anyway. The other weapons, especially Mister Toots, can be just as satisfying. When you finally decide to give them a try.
Sadly, the same level of excellence does not extend to the multi-player. If it can even be called that. With only one mode to choose from. Which, even though it has some variety of objectives, is essentially nothing more than kill all the aliens. Yeah, it’s fun. Actually, a lot of fun. But as the only mode available, limited to four player co-op, and only four characters to choose from, it just isn’t enough. Had they carried over Wrecking Crew (there’s Ruin mode, which is essentially the same thing, but single player only) from Guerrilla, and the more standard death match type modes, it could have been great. But as is, it’s sadly lacking.
Honestly though, I don’t understand why the game was so poorly received. It took some new directions, when it really didn’t need to. Volition went back to formula, even though Guerrilla was almost perfect, and it was a dumb choice on their part. But it actually paid off. Or rather, would have, if more people had taken the time to play the game. Sadly, the franchise has now been laid to rest. But, then again, nobody thought it would come back from Red Faction 2. And it’s not too late. Show your support. You won’t regret it.
- Incredible Visuals: It really is a beautiful game, candy for your eyes
- Mister Toots: A unicorn that farts explosive rainbows. ‘Nuff said
- Social Commentary: Guerrilla was subtle, Armageddon makes it seem like a brick to the face by comparison
- Spectacular sound: The game looks good, yeah, but it sounds even better
- Disappointing multi-player: It’s a hell of a lot of fun, but far too limited
- Return To Formula: After the success of Guerrilla, reverting to a linear path was a stupid move