When I first saw an ad for Red Faction: Armageddon I immediately thought “didn’t this game come out a couple years ago? Doesn’t it seem a little late to be advertising this game almost 2 years after the release?” But wait, I realized, this is a different game! The previous one I was thinking of was Red Faction: Guerrilla. I also realized I basically heard nothing of this game pre-release whereas the previous title received massive marketing treatment. So does the game really warrant the lack of coverage or will it end up being the sleeper hit of the year? No and no respectively. While the game is enjoyable and fun, the only thing separating it from a generic shooter is the advent of destructible buildings/scenery, something that has been the trademark of the Red Faction series. However, a majority of the gaming world has caught up to this fact, most notably it is featured in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. This is slightly a letdown. When one looks at the original GeoMod with its destructible environments and being able to do things like create craters to take cover in or bring down a mountain on your enemies, only being able to collapse buildings on baddies is kinda anti-climactic. Though with the upgraded visuals (though they’re not exactly cutting edge, but they’re passible for decent) it makes doing said wanton destruction quite entertaining. There’s nothing quite like having a building full of cultists implode to crush them into tinsy-winsy bits. Well the first time, maybe the second, quite possibly even the third. The problem I have with the system is that it’s pretty much all you’re going to be doing or else you might as well be playing Doom 3.
Which brings me to the core of the game: this game is Doom 3’s and BF:BC2’s illegitimate child. It has the feeling of the alien hordes in a foreign place in an enclosed area down as well as using the environment to strategically do stuff. Sure they give you the novelty weapons that make the game’s short single player campaign stand out, from the essential maul and the completely ridiculously broken magnet gun (seriously, infinite ammo on something that can not only single hit most enemies but combo lock the rest really seemed like a good idea to the crew at Volition? Unless it was a scheme to try to get the player to exploit the destructible surroundings- wait, I’m onto all of you) to the black hole gun and nanite rifle that’ll dissolve whatever you kill with it. However, some weapons are simply just better than others. I found myself using 4 weapons exclusively: The Maul, The Magnet Gun, The Plasma Thrower (see: flamethrower), and eventually, The Rail Driver (the sniper rifle with thermal vision that goes through terrain/cover). And really that’s all you need. Big enemies get taken down by doing, what I adoringly called the Gravity Yo-Yo (grab them with the magnet gun and pull them to the ceiling, when they impact there put the first anchor on them and right as they hit the ground lurch them back to the ceiling, do this about 10 times to kill anything and, oh yeah, no ammo needed and they can’t do anything to you while you’re doing this).
All of that is, of course, assuming that you’re not in the Exo which the all you do is hit the Mouse 3 button and watch as everything your enemies hold dear, such as their inside squishy bits, are taken away. The Exo is one of the few things in the game that make the magnet gun look fair. Basically when you get in the Exo you can’t die. It has a regenerating shield over a hull. Your shield never goes down, and the hull is pretty hefty. The chaingun that serves as your main gun minces whatever is caught in the line of fire and the missiles incinerate the little pieces of minced xeno flying about to add to the overkill. The walker and flyer controls feel a lot more clunky compared to the surprisingly smooth Exo, but other than that most of the vehicles feel the same. Mouse 1 to kill infantry and Mouse 3 to bring down the roof (literally) are the cardinal rules of vehicular combat; there is no variance to this, maybe hit the F key to melee anything that got too close to you.
Let’s take a step back to the story of the game. The plot is rather generic. Evil bad guy rises up to destroy everything you love, you have to stop the monsters he unleashed, when you finally catch up to him he reveals to you that this evil is far greater than you could ever imagine and that his death prevents/stops nothing but you kill (decapitate) him anyway, you must now find a way to stop the tide of evil, closest person/love interest dies, becomes personal, finish the final boss, peace, love, unicorns, rainbows. No depth beyond that. Pretty linear and lackluster in my opinion, but it’s not bad.
So overall, what a game comes down to is the fun-o-meter. Is RF:A fun? Hell yeah. Does it leave a lasting impression, though; is it something with replay or define the genre? No. Not too much. I end up giving RF:A a respectable 12 on the d20 (6/10) because it is indeed above average for being an action shooter true to its name, but it is too short, the repetition robs it of the replay and, with the game being predominantly single player, the cliché plot tarnishes the shine of the core content.