Review by Black Gold
"Mars Is A Harsh Mistress"
The future of Mars is threatened and, once again, it is up to a Mason to save the planet. Darius Mason, the grandson of Alec Mason and Samanya from Red Faction: Guerrilla, is tasked with saving the people of Mars from a whole new enemy. Gone are the days of oppressive corporations and military dictators. This fight is for survival and what Mason and the Red Faction are fighting against is not even human.
Some 50 years after the liberation of Mars from EDF forces, a new threat has emerged. Cultists led by Adam Hale seek to undermine the security of life on the surface of Mars by destroying the terraformer. The Red Faction's failure to stop Hale and the Cultists in the opening scene of the game sends the human population of Mars underground into the mines left over from the mining colony. A few years later, an ancient species is unleashed and seeks to destroy human life on Mars, leaving Mason to do what his family does best.
Darius is going to need some impressive weapons to save Mars and this game delivers. Firstly, the Nano Forge is back and highly improved. The upgraded weapon carries with it some useful abilities that will save Darius life during his race to save Mars. Besides being able to reconstruct destroyed buildings, the Nano Forge has the power to make a force push that sends enemies flying backward. It comes in handy when facing multiple enemies. Another example is the shield. The shield is possibly the most useful upgrade available and it will save Darius's life, especially toward the end of the game. Secondly, the choice of weaponry is varied with some new additions. Some familiar weapons return such as the hammer, Nano Rifle, and the rail driver. One of the new weapons that will probably be used the most is called the Magnet Gun. It is useful weapon because it requires no ammo and it a lot of fun to fling enemies around the map.
In his quest to save Mars, Darius is accompanied by S.A.M. S.A.M is artificial intelligence built by his grandmother. Worn on his wrist, it guides Darius through tough spots and gives calculations of survival and so on. It is a worthy companion and provides some comic relief with its deadpan sarcasm.
Salvage is back and even more useful. This time the upgrades work on a tier system. The higher percent of the game that is completed, the more tiers are unlocked. Upgrades vary from larger health bars, to stronger gun fire, and improved Nano Forge abilities. The upgrade system is well thought out and a positive addition to the Red Faction series.
Do not think that you will be just running and diving your way through the entire game. There are a few machines that are available to help Darius plow through enemies. Armor suits and the like are provided thanks to the Marauders. There is the exo suit that is used a few times during the game. It sports a machine gun and triple rocket launcher with lock-on capabilities and can smash through objects with its speed burst. The walker is used for land and surface movement with an rockets and a stream of electricity to engage enemies. A fighter ship is there when the fight needs to go airborne.
After making it through the game, a new mode is available for play. It is the campaign, but upgraded. The upgraded experience includes cheats that are unlocked with salvage. These upgrades included unlimited ammo for each weapon and new weapons among other things that are available only in this mode. The new weapons are very cool, especially the Napalm Laser.
The overall path of the game is linear. The sand-box open world style of the pervious game (Red Faction: Guerrilla) is gone. I actually found myself missing the open world style. I think this game would have been better if it kept to the previous model. I think the style is better for developing Martian society than a linear plot. This is the forth Red Faction game, humans have been on Mars for over a century, and I think it is time to really create this Martian world. It can be something wonderful if the time is put in to make Mars more of a complete world. Also, the change in enemies just did not cut it for a Red Faction game. Fighting against aliens makes it another space game. Red Faction has always been about struggles against human oppression with political undertones. The few moments fighting the Cultists does not do the series justice. This aspect of the game was underwhelming.
Then there is the multi-player. Getting rid of the versus multi-player is the biggest mistake the makers of this game made. This a decision that I do not understand and I bet it definitely hurt sales. All is not lost though. There still some multi-player gaming with the Infestation Mode because Ruin Mode is a single player experience. Infestation is your typical wave based mode. It is playable with up to 4 players and 30 waves of enemies. You can also go it alone, if you prefer it that way. There are many maps to choose from with two types of goals. Maps with survival as a marker mean the goal is to survive each wave. If everyone die, the game is sent back to the lobby . Maps with defend as a marker mean that the player(s) must stay alive and keep a building or structure from being destroyed. Dying or the destruction of the building means that the game is over. The upgrades from Infestation and single player carry over. Also, it is easier and faster to gain salvage for upgrades in Infestation. There is a definitely a team aspect to this mode. Finding the right weapons and choosing the right upgrades for the Nano Forge will ensure survival because only one upgrade can be used at a time. If you pick the shield at the beginning of the round, you have to use it the entire wave and can switch only when the wave is complete. Ruin Mode is simple. Destroy as much as possible in within the time limit or play free mode without a limit.
Overall, Red Faction: Armageddon is an enjoyable game. It has its positives and negatives. The weapon additions are good and Infestation Mode is a plus. Taking away the versus mode and changing from an open world to an linear story were mistakes. I think that as a stand alone game it is very good. However, it is a disappointment as an entry into the Red Faction series.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/18/11
Game Release: Red Faction: Armageddon (US, 06/07/11)
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