Red Faction: Armegeddon
Red Faction Armageddon is the latest game in the Martian shooting series from THQ. Since it’s inception on the PlayStation 2 in 2001 Red Faction has changed the way first – and more recently third person shooting games work. The reason: GeoMod engine. This allows environments in the game to be destroyed using in game weapons to open up, or rather create new pathways to complete missions. This style of play has become synonymous with the franchise and has been improved on greatly for Red Faction as now GeoMod 2.0, not only allows the scenery on Mars be blown to space, it can also be repaired… and blown up again!
Set on Mars, Red Faction: Armageddon takes place 50 years after the events in Guerrilla, the war of control for the red planet still rages on. The Martians rely on the Red Faction to keep them safe from the EDF – the Earth Defence Force (sadly not the utility company). Darius Mason is a soldier in the Faction and the game’s protagonist. After being sent on a mission to stop cultists from destroying the terraformer – the source of all of Mars’s liveable atmosphere – Mason is lured into a trap by Adam Hale. Hale, who is angered by Mason’s grandfather killing his father in Guerrilla is out for revenge and will stop at nothing to not only avenge his father but to destroy Mars itself.
Once the game starts, Darius is faced with two missions, clearing his name for the Terraformer incident and finding Hale and stopping him and the cultists from causing anymore damage to Mars. What proceeds is a linear shoot-story-shoot-story game that involves a little exploration to find a collectable or two. Some may take this as a bad thing, however THQ have made sure they have a balance between the two. Action scenes are spaced apart in such away that they are not repetitive but still often enough to keep attention. Sheer numbers of enemies also increase as the game moves on. This increases difficulty as Darius is constantly trying to fight off the various creepy-crawlies and then one kills him from behind. This can get annoying as each restart completely reloads the last checkpoint. So a lot of time can be spent looking at loading screens.
Environments in the game that THQ have created perfectly represent the moody atmosphere of the game. There is a balance of crudely built shanty towns, dimly lit underground areas. The industrial elements on Mars are not so overly futuristic they are unbelievable. The game is completely voice acted and in some games this can be a problem, as there’s the tendency for over acting rather than restraint. This is not the case for Red Faction, each actor is cast in a way that fits the character profiles. Mason being the confident army type, while Hale comes across like the psychopath that he is. One thing to note about the voice acting is that during cut scenes can suddenly change, one second it is at a normal volume, then suddenly dropping to an almost inaudible sound. This could be the copy that was played so take this with a pinch of salt, however there are subtitles that back up what is being said.
The controls are simple and intuitive to use. Each button is placed logically and nothing feels out of place or an inconvenience to reach. The targeting and shooting couldn’t be simpler and actions such as dodging, reloading or even jumping are just a button tap away!
Online multiplayer in Red Faction provides a welcome break if the action gets overwhelming or if the annoyance of constantly watching loading screens gets too much. This is broken down into two types of game: Infestation and Ruin. Infestation is a Horde-mode where up to four players co-operatively team up to defeat waves of oncoming enemies. This is much like the action sequences in the main game however at the start of each wave the players can choose which ever weapons that are available to them.
The best of the two modes is by far Ruin. The aim is simple – destroy as many things up in one minute as humanly possible. There is unlimited ammunition and the biggest guns to choose from to aid in this. After the minute, the score is calculated and submitted a leaderboard. However one problem with this is that there is slow down if too many rockets are set off at once. The other problem is that when the game is purchased, there is only a demo of Ruin. To unlock the full mode, a code has to be purchased through the game.
A lack of competitive multiplayer is a let down in Red Faction but it is more than made up for in the two multiplayer modes that are presented. Unfortunately a lack of offline multiplayer is a massive let down for the game. This is something that could have easily been added and yet for some reason it is just not there.
Red Faction is an enjoyable game, the story mode while a tad too linear has a brilliant mix of action and story elements. The controls really do standout, as they are responsive and with the targeting system, makes short work of disposing the game’s enemies. It is by no means a short game either, providing at least 20 hours of gameplay. Once the game is completed however there is little to replay. Most, if not all of the trophies can be picked up first time round and once the story is revealed, there is little motivation to watch it again.
What will keep the game in the PlayStation is the multiplayer. The lack of offline multiplayer is a sin, however the online multiplayer does shine. Infestation is enjoyable with 3 other players competing for the same goal and Ruin mode is like being a child in a sweet shop all over again. This will make sure Red Faction Armageddon is not forgotten.