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June 28, 2011
Red Faction: Armageddon - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
9/6/2011THQTHQVolition Inc12-4
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Rebuilding structures in Red Faction Armageddon.
Back in June 2009 - only two years ago - we reviewed Red Faction: Guerrilla and found it to be one of the most unique, entertaining and technically accomplished titles on the PS3 to this very day and we awarded it an very solid 88% overall. Now we have the sequel, Red Faction: Armageddon and our expectations were sky high for something very special indeed.

Half a century after the Red Faction resistance and their Marauder allies freed Mars from the brutal Earth Defense Force, harmony on Mars is again threatened but this time by a lethal force shrouded in mystery. When the massive Terraformer that supplies Mars with its Earth-like air and weather is destroyed, the atmosphere turns to chaos, super-tornados and lightning storms engulf the planet. To survive, the Colonists flee to the underground mines and build a network of habitable caves.

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The games hero Darius Mason.
Five years later, Darius Mason, grandson of Martian Revolution heroes Alec Mason and Samanya, runs a lucrative business from Bastion, underground hub of Colonist activity. Mining, scavenging, mercenary work--if the job is dangerous, Darius is your man. Few sane people now venture to the ravaged surface, aside from contractors like Darius and the smugglers who run goods between the settlements.

When Darius is tricked into reopening a mysterious shaft in an old Marauder temple, he releases a long-dormant evil and unleashes Armageddon on Mars. As Colonist and Marauder settlements are torn asunder, only Darius and the Red Faction can save mankind. The battle will take them across the storm-blasted planet--and below it, to the very heart of the unspeakable threat.

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Looks like an enemy up ahead.
As a First Person Shooter Red Faction: Armageddon ticks many the boxes including the game length which, unlike many other FPS's, runs for well over 10 hours. It holds a pretty smooth frame rate, it has a wide range of weapons, there are numerous enemies to encounter and there's plenty of destruction. Indeed when it's at its best this game sits up there with the best of them. Weapons are numerous, and varied, and include a Rocket Launcher, Plasma Gun, Plasma Beam, Rail Driver, Assault Rifle, Magnet Gun (which essentially allows you to pick two points, buildings for instance, and then have them pulled together like magnets), Singularity Cannon and Maul which is the trusty powered sledgehammer to knock out walls, or enemies.

One new addition to this game is the ability to re-create the world using a Nano Forge Reconstruction Utility. By holding down L2 any walkways or buildings that have been destroyed will be rebuilt. This can be crucial to rebuild some cover when being swarmed by enemies. Later into the game this can be used to rebuild broken equipment some distance away such as motors or lifts.

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There will be outside locations in RFA.
So what's wrong with the game then? Our issue lies with what this franchise has become. The previous game Red Faction: Guerrilla has a wonderful, open-world game with political undertones that made the game quite interesting indeed. There was plenty to explore and discover on the map, and while we would have liked a little less travelling, the game was very unique and fresh. Red Faction: Armageddon throws out the political uprising, throws out the open-world, and throws out much of the freshness and gives us another alien invasion styled game, a linear path, and pretty much the same sort of location from level to level. If anything this newest title feels like it was developed first before the developers were let loose on creating an open-world environment. Of course linear games can be fantastic as well - one need online look at Killzone 3 or Resistance: Fall of Man for evidence of that, but Red Faction: Armageddon lacks the set pieces to provide the thrills.

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Nice, ummm, assets in Red Faction Armageddon.
Also disappointing are the modes outside the main campaign. The first of these is the Ruin Mode which has a Freeplay and Challenge mode - the ultimate goal being to run around and destroy as much as possible within the allotted time. The developers have included six maps to destroy but sadly this is very much a single player game although there are online leaderboards to compare your best scores to your friends.

The other game mode outside the Campaign is the Infestation mode which sees you, or you and up to three other gamers online, taking on 30 waves of increasingly numerous enemies. This is a pretty entertaining mode and there are several maps on offer, including Dark varieties, to keep you occupied. Any scrap earned and upgrades unlocked also apply to the main game which is a nice bonus. Having said that, this is the only online mode in the game which is disappointing, and we would have loved to see some "normal" modes such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag or similar included to expand the online experience, and longevity.

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Using the Sledgehammer in RFA.
Visually Red Faction: Armageddon is certainly impressive with wonderful character design - primarily on the enemies - semi-varied environments, a solid frame rate and, most importantly, brilliant destruction. Of course this all comes about due to the developers Geo-Mod 2.5 engine. As we've already discussed one of the most impressive aspects to this title is the levels of destruction, almost everything can be destroyed to some extent and just as impressive is the ability to "rebuild" anything that has been destroyed.

In terms of issues on a technical level there isn't much besides some very minor screen tearing, but generally there's a very solid, and smooth, frame rate. Probably the biggest issue graphically is an artistic one with Mars being very red in colour. Sure, there's not much you can do, but perhaps a little more colour in the underground markets or on the buildings would have been welcome.

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Details of the Magnet Gun.
Sonically this latest Red Faction title is solid with some great weapon effects, solid dialogue (although admittedly the script isn't overly exciting), and some great music too. Perhaps the most important aspect of this game is the use of surround sound channels and if you do have a surround sound setup to play your games you'll certainly benefit from the directional sounds to locate enemies.

It must be emphasised that Red Faction: Armageddon is a very competent, technically accomplished shooter that is likely to please fans of the genre. Sadly, this is also a definite step backwards for the franchise by taking a wonderful, politically charged open world affair and bringing it back to a linear, kill the aliens, standard-fare effort. For fans of the previous game the lack of vision here is sure to disappoint.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSBrilliant animation, brilliant destruction, and superb overall.
SOUNDSonically this game is very solid with great music, effects and much improved speech.
GAMEPLAYWhat happened to the open-world exploration and fun, as a FPS it's fine, but has lost its character.
VALUEIt's now a very linear, non-open world game with pretty mediocre storyline. Multiplayer is lacking too. What happened?
OVERALLRed Faction: Armageddon is still a very solid game, but it's lost all it's uniqueness and originality from the previous game. Were we expecting too much? Perhaps, but to our minds this is a very disappointing step backwards for the series.

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