Red Faction Armageddon eschews the third person free-roaming sandbox of its predecessor, delivering a stronger directed story with a lot of explosive remodelling. Using GeoMod 2.5 the gameís destruction physics have been taken to another level and rather than appearing like a gimmick, they feed into the main gameís core gameplay nicely.Story
Terraformed Mars is under threat by a serious band of cultists lead by a madman; you play as Darius Mason, one of the Mason lineage and member of the Red Faction. Itís up to you to stop the destruction of the terraformer and make sure that Mars is safe. Thereís more to the story of course, a whole lot more, but weíre not going to spoil that for you. Gameplay
Things are different in Red Faction: Armageddon, youíre playing a third person shooter now and not a sandbox game. There are several levels of difficulty and an auto-aim which you can turn off if you prefer. The controls are pretty decent with aiming and shooting feeling intuitive, there are a few melee attacks and Darius doesnít feel kludgey at all when youíre controlling him. The levels are designed to take advantage of your new tools of destruction and the upgraded abilities provided by the nano-forge. You can only carry 4 weapons at any one time, but you can swap them out at weapon lockers scattered throughout the gameís levels.
There is the usual arsenal, with a few choice picks. The twin-pistols, shotgun, and assault rifle all rub shoulders with the likes of the plasma gun, the nano-rifle and the wonderful magnet gun, that allows you to shoot a magnet at one surface or creature and the attractor at another. It will turn any object in the environment into a weapon and it should be a choice for your explorations regardless of the other cool toys on offer. The rail gun is back and it allows you to shoot through walls and other surfaces, coming complete with a special scope that lets you see your unsuspecting targets.
Then thereís the nano-forge, part weapon and part tool. It will let you repair broken structures and destroyed stations. It can be used to rapidly reconstruct cover in a firefight and when upgraded later on can fire repair grenades that allow you to repair things at a distance.
Dariusí nano-forge can also be upgraded through various unlockable abilities that become available at certain points in the story and accessed at upgrade stations. These feature extra health, reduced damage, better control over his weapons and nano-forge specific attacks like Impact and Shockwave that cause a whole lot of damage to both enemies and the environment. The key to these is salvage, usually found scattered about the levels and created when something is blown up or hammered to bits.
The moment to moment gunplay in Red Faction: Armageddon is pretty generic, but itís the environments that let you spice things up. You can use explosives to bring down a wall on a group of bad guys or let rip with the nano-rifle to deconstruct a platform and watch them tumble into the abyss below. Its mix of tactical environment use and standard combat elevate it to more than just another shooter, itís a solid system and it works rather well. It wonít blow your mind...but it will decimate the scenery. There are no health pickups and the game uses regenerating health.
There are a few mech based levels where youíre able to take a large walker for a test drive and these are mixed well into the overall gameplay. Thereís never a section that really feels out of place in terms of what youíre doing and the objectives that youíre given are run-of-the-mill kinds of missions that you might expect. The game seems to play that aspect safe and I for one canít blame developers for doing that.
You can save the game at any time, but it seems to only save up to the last checkpoint even with a user save. Checkpoints are fairly well placed and ensure that the game doesnít become a grind.
There are some rewards for completing Red Faction: Armageddon and you can initiate a New Game+ which lets you play again complete with all of your unlocks and weapons right out of the gate. A nice little touch that more games need to take advantage of, Iím looking at you Dungeon Siege 3. You can probably finish it in 6-8 hours unless you really scour the game for all the salvage and audio logs you can find, then it might take you a little longer.Graphics
Red Faction: Armageddon does a pretty good job in the graphics department. Thankfully there werenít any horrible graphics glitches and Red Faction: Armageddon managed to remain stable when a lot was happening on the screen at once. The dark heart of Mars is produced nicely with a variety of decent effects and textures, capturing the feel of a planet that has been turned into a hellhole by the actions of a lunatic. Where it really shines though is in the aesthetics of the environments. Weíre talking about that theme to where you are, not how many pixels are in a scene or how good the textures look. It really feels as though youíre miles below the surface of the planet, hunting for clues, trying to survive and battling against forces that Darius just doesnít really want to be anywhere near.Animations
The Red Faction: Armageddon animation engine gets a decent work out, the characters have decent lip synch in the cut-scenes and Darius moves pretty well.