One set-piece sees Darius journeying along what's essentially a giant ski-lift while blasting alien pods from the track above. The track is impervious to damage, but a little further into the game Darius finds the ability to shoot 'repair grenades' that undo structural harm from afar. Is it too much to ask for that ability to have been introduced slightly earlier? It would have made the set-piece even more exciting by injecting added urgency to the shooting, as well as bypassing the need to create indestructible man-made materials that ignore the game's unique selling point.
Fortunately, oversights like these are rare. Thankfully, for a large percentage of the modest 8-9 hour running time the game plays to its strengths. It feels great to spy salvage pick-ups through a window of a seemingly enclosed room and being able to just blast a hole in the wall and stroll straight through without worrying about details such as doorways. Small moments like these rewrite the rules of action games and propel Red Faction into a league of its own.
At one point during a surface-based mission in the middle of a storm we were told to destroy a number of large beacons. When somebody mentioned that they'd had to complete the same objective countless time before in dozens of similar games we replied by shooting the top of one beacon tower with a magnet and then tagging an enemy Marauder on the other side of the canyon with another.
As always, the Magnet Gun did its job impeccably and pulled down the tower, scooped up tons more rubble as the runaway beacon ploughed through ramshackle barracks and then splattered the enemy and his companions into a rock face. Needless to say, our spectator had never destroyed a beacon like that before.
Combat situations such as our beacon experiment sum up Red Faction Armageddon perfectly. The fun you get out of the game is directly proportional to the creativity with which you approach it, and between level scales and weapon sets Volition has handed you a licence to do whatever you fancy, whenever you want.
In a surprising twist we even found ourselves quite attached to Create-A-Character-faced Darius Mason and his little band of buddies. His tale's conclusion jumps the shark just a tad towards the end and some lazy fade-to-black transitions between action and cut-scenes occasionally deflate the atmosphere, but Armageddon's tale does a fine job of stringing together levels so engrossing you'd happily replay many of them individually if you could. Luckily the Leaderboard-centric Ruin mode fills that void nicely.
Not as groundbreaking as Guerrilla then, and not without some issues either, Armageddon is still a crowning achievement for developers Volition.
The player freedom is nothing short of exceptional. And who knows, with a little more care, craft and polish, Red Faction might yet grow into a franchise that'll rival even the biggest of first-party exclusives.
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Technical marvel with truly unique appeal - a Dead Space without the borders or boundaries
- Generation-humbling tech
- Combat utterly evolved
- Rushed ending