Red Faction: Armageddon 3 Years-Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - May 21, 2014
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As mentioned in the introduction, Red Faction: Armageddon features the grandson of the main character from Red Faction: Guerrilla. In the beginning he is a member of the Red Faction, which appears to be the military and police force for Mars. Darius himself is apparently a rather frustrating individual though, but one that can be trusted to get the job done. Sadly he is not always the brightest person.
A group of cultists on Mars seeks to take control of the planet for unknown purposes, and its leader, Alan Hale, has history with the Mason family. When the cultists storm the terraformer, Darius is among the Red Faction forces sent to secure the facility. However, a mistake he makes allows Hale to damage the terraformer and shut it down. Though Darius is not directly responsible for this, a point his commanding officer makes in an audio recording, everyone blames him for being forced underground to escape the dangerous atmosphere. He also blames himself to a degree, but continues trying to live his life as a demolitions expert.
Years after the terraformer incident, Mason is hired for a job at what at first appears to be an old Marauder temple. Before long he learns it is more than just a temple, as it predates the Marauders, and that the people who hired him are actually the cultists, and Alan Hale. Before learning this, he completes the job and releases previously dormant Martian species that are not particularly pleased with the existence of humans.
The remainder of the game follows Mason trying to determine what happened, what the creatures are, rescuing who he can, and ultimately stopping the creatures. The path does have some twists and turns, but nothing too terribly surprising. One thing that is interesting is how much Red Faction: Armageddon calls back to the first Red Faction. Without spoiling much, this is not the first time humans have encountered these creatures apparently, but last time the humans fared better.
Beyond Darius Mason, there are three other characters that play a large role in the story: Kara, a Marauder and very close friend of Darius; and Sergeant Winters, his former commander. Both do what they can to help Mason, without blaming or even questioning him much about his involvement in what happened. The third character is S.A.M. or the Situational Awareness Module that is attached to Darius' arm and drives the Nano-Forge. Despite being a machine, it does have a personality that leads to some amusing banter between it and Mason. S.A.M. does play a fairly important role in the game as a character, as without it Darius would have no one to talk to as he explores caves and abandoned areas.
As I played through Red Faction: Armageddon this most recent time, I got a feeling I am not sure I had before. There were a number of events within its story that seemed to have been given more focus than necessary, at least when considering their treatment as a whole. This gave me the feeling that Red Faction: Armageddon was not intended to be the last game in the franchise, but actually a new beginning for it. I think that some of those events were focused on to make them hooks for future games to latch onto. For a non-spoiler example, Hale and the cultists' relationship with the Mason family is not explored very much, but is very present here. Perhaps the plans for later titles would have delved into this more.
Altogether the story is only slightly impressive to me. It is good, does its job of driving the game well, and does a very nice job of connecting to the other games. For someone familiar with the franchise, these references I suspect will be welcome. It does have its flaws though, such as those apparent hooks, because if you notice them, they stand out as unusual. Of course if my suspicion is correct about why they are present, then later games would have smoothed over those hooks, but as it is now, they are a little awkward.
One final thing I do want to mention, at the risk of spoiling part of the game, is a rather large plot hole. The humans on Mars were forced underground after the terraformer was shut down. (Spoiler incoming.) At the end of the game though, you return to the terraformer and repair it with your arm-mounted Nano-Forge. If that is all it took then why was it never repaired earlier? It does not seem like the Nano-Forge would have been a unique piece of technology at the time, so why was a team not sent to fix it and return the people to the surface, or just a team to support Darius as he repairs it? I have no answer for this beyond suggesting it is best to overlook this issue and enjoy the game otherwise.