There are few things more satisfying than planting explosive charges around the base of a massive structure and then stepping back a safe distance, before detonating them. The resulting chaos -- the crumbling of steel and concrete, bathed in a cloud of smoke and ash -- is nothing short of orgasmic.
Red Faction: Armageddon (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed])
Set 50 years after the events of Guerrilla, Armageddon picks up the story of Darius Mason, who's been tricked into awakening an army of Martian monsters. The game's relatively short campaign follows Mason through a series of underground caverns, as he's relentlessly harassed by nightmarish creatures hell bent on mauling him to death.
On the game's default difficulty, I found I could just snap onto targets -- one after the other -- taking them out with relative ease. With no real cover system to speak, I spent more time out in the open raining fire on enemies and rolling about to avoid fire than carefully thinking about my attack. Yes, you can duck behind structures (and the game repeatedly reminds you that you can repair destroyed objects to use as cover with the Nanoforge), but it's probably not necessary. That kind of unabating action isn't the worst thing you could get from Armageddon, however, especially if you go into it hoping to turn your brain off and to make a mess of alien guts.
I almost always felt like my back was up against a wall, a few feet from a building or cavernous obstacle. So many of the game's areas are uncomfortably claustrophobic, with a ceiling a few inches from Mason's head or walls on all sides, forcing you straight ahead. My gamer instinct in these small areas was always "don't use the rockets, don't use the explosives," because you're bound to take damage. The game does open up into some larger spaces, and there are a few areas where you hop into wild vehicles and aimlessly destroy everything in sight. Still, those areas are too few for a game that should be priding itself on and highlighting its destruction tech.
There's also at least one key plot element (one that I can't mention without ruining the game's story) that's such nonsense that it nearly pulls the rug right out from under the entire production. But like the gameplay, it's just entertaining enough that it never really becomes offensive.
THE VERDICT - Red Faction: Armageddon
Reviewed by Nick Chester
|4:15 PM on 08.03.2011|
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