The original Red Faction is an awesome game. Red Faction 2, not so much, and I was so “meh” on the switch to third-person for subsequent games that I still haven’t played Red Faction: Guerrilla. So… my attitude going in wasn’t great, and to say that I wasn’t expecting much would be a serious understatement. Still, something about Armageddon captivated me despite its (sometimes serious) flaws, much like the first game in the series did all those years ago.
Okay, this is what most would call a “consolized” game. You’re zoomed in really close to the character, combat is simplified, and there are patronizing little markers that not only tell you where to go, but actually plot out a course to get there. You’re never lost, basically. Is the consolization a dealbreaker? Well, in some games, yes, but in this case I had quickly tuned all of that out. Your mileage may vary, but it only bothered me in the very beginning of the game. Ignoring where you’re supposed to go and exploring randomly can net you some interesting recordings that fill in details, as well as salvage that allows you to level up abilities.
The characters and story are one of the biggest strengths and flaws of the whole game. The beginning offers a solid representative sample of what can be expected—the gaming equivalent of a popcorn flick, where everything is relatively shallow and designed around keeping things happening instead of telling a deep and compelling story. Characters show up right when they’re needed to save the day, everyone has a one-liner ready at all times, and their personalities are likeable despite a lack of depth because they’re all so fun. This doubles as a flaw, however, because toward the end of the game they suddenly stop being the invincible bringers of awesome that they’ve been throughout the rest of the game. Without warning a character is killed off due solely to their own stupidity (and your character’s stupidity, as well), and this is used as a cheap way to make the ending seem all emotional and payback-y. It isn’t, though, because of the sheer stupidity behind how said character dies. The whole thing is completely unnecessary and undermines everything everyone has been up to that point.
Another flaw is the difficulty. On normal difficulty, everything is ridiculously easy for 90% of the game before a sudden difficulty spike toward the end that I can’t seem to make sense of. Granted, there are occasional spikes a few times before that, usually associated with cheap deaths (like standing on a destructible surface over instant-death lava, and an enemy runs up out of nowhere and blows up the ground you’re standing on). This spike at the end of the game lasts longer, however, and doesn’t really make any sense. It’s less a difficulty slope than a cliff, because the game on the normal difficulty is remarkably simple up until that point thanks to the use of the magnet gun.
The magnet gun is awesome. One of the best parts of the whole game. Before getting into that, however, it’s worth mentioning that pretty much everything except for the ground and tunnel walls can be destroyed. You can destroy buildings, staircases, bridges, and pretty much anything else that you see, but you can never destroy so much that it makes it impossible to continue thanks to your ability to regenerate the objects you destroy (which is only slightly less awesome). Now, the magnet gun is a gun you have for most of the game, and it’s overpowered. Insanely overpowered. What it does is it allows you to shoot an object/enemy, then it allows you to shoot another object/enemy, which causes a force to throw the first at the second. What this means is that you can throw walls at enemies, or even throw enemies at one another until they die. It inflicts more damage than you’d expect, has unlimited ammo, but not only that—using it on an enemy staggers them a bit, giving you time to move on to another enemy. Even many of the more difficult foes you’ll fight can be beaten before they even manage to attack simply by throwing them into walls until they die. This is a hilariously fun way to clear a room.
The game seems to want to be scary, but it just isn’t. The beginning is kind of eerie before you know what you’re dealing with, but once you realize the majority of the things you’ll be fighting are funny-looking creatures that jump around from wall to wall like drunk frogs, you suddenly find it easy to charge into a room full of enemies without thinking. This is reinforced by how powerful you can become by leveling up; as you progress, you unlock new powers that aid you in different ways and fit different kinds of playstyles. If you take your time to explore and pick up everything you see, however, you can easily end up leveling up in ways you don’t even need.
The music is okay, though I wouldn’t consider it a plus or minus. It’s well-made, but not anything fresh or interesting worth calling out. The graphics are similarly average in that they’re pretty and polished in many ways, but they’re still nothing particularly special. Much of the dialogue between characters takes place in pre-rendered cutscenes that have a pleasant “smooth” quality to them, which I actually liked quite a bit, but that’s about it in terms of interesting aesthetic stuff. This isn’t the kind of game you play for the music or graphics, though—Red Faction: Armageddon is a game about a bunch of inexplicably invincible people destroying everything in their way to save the day, much like an old action movie.
Here’s what you should do: