Ranking of Red Faction Part 4: Red Faction Armageddon

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Well would you look at that? We have now reached the end of the line for Red Faction. Hello and welcome to the fourth and last part ranking the Red Faction series. As always, you can find the list here. So, let's get into it.

Red Faction Armageddon takes place fifty years after the events of Guerrilla. You play as the grandson of Alec Mason named Darius, who just like his grandfather fights for the Red Faction. At this point in the future, the Red Faction are a larger force (still a good one though), but even that larger force couldn't stop Adam Hale (the main antagonist) and his cult from destroying the Terraformer and sending the Martians underground the hide away from the extreme weather the Terraformer held back. Fast forward a few years, and Darius now works as an freelance miner along side a girl named Kara. He takes up a job which turns out to be trap, and ends up accidentally opening a door for aliens known as the Plague. Now it is up to him to stop the Plague and Adam Hale once and for all.

The most obvious thing that stands out with the story is how different it is from previous games. The other games involve fighting either fighting an evil corporation or fighting a tyrannical government, whereas this game has you fighting aliens and sometimes cultists. Because of that, the game really veers from its rebellion-against-corporation vibe I've come to like over the games. It's not to say I don't like change, I just wish it was a better one. Also, I found the plot to be extremely basic and the characters dull at best. These are complaints I have had for all of the games, but this time I actually dislike the main character whereas the other ones I didn't mind. Darius likes to talk a lot and man is he annoying and cheesy. Mix that with a literalist AI system and you got yourself some dumb and pointless conversations. But the game does a good job at one thing that I have always liked: it provides a good setting. The new underground setting is fun to be in and this game has done the best job at showing the world this series has built, even with some talks about Kapek from the first game. Also, I like some of the changes to the story like the Red Faction being an actual fighting force and the backstory of the Cultists and Adam Hale. Overall, I would say that the story elements of this game excel in some manners and lag behind in others. It's not great, but it's not bad either.

But as a person who has played all four Red Faction games, I know where the real changes lie: in the gameplay. So, let's start with the biggest one: changing from open world to linear. This is a very strange choice to see. I wouldn't be surprised to hear a game go from linear to open world, but the other way around feels weird. While I do think having the game be linear has its own benefits and drawbacks compared to open world, I see this as a step backwards. This game sets up an even more interesting world, and I would've loved to explore it, but I can't. Still, many elements of the previous games like destruction, fun weaponry, and plenty of vehicle sections can be found here as well. 

I enjoyed the reconstructor tool more than the destruction in this game.

I enjoyed the reconstructor tool more than the destruction in this game.

One of the things I complained about with the previous game was the lack of fun weaponry. There were fun weapons to be found in Guerrilla, but it never felt like enough. That's not the case with this game. This game is filled to the brim with fun guns to use. My personal favorite is a magnet gun that acts like the tether tool from Just Cause where you can shoot something and have that thing go to wherever you want it to go. While throwing parts of the building at an enemy was fun, the best use of the weapon for me was to shoot an enemy and have it fly towards a wall killing it instantly. The weapons were a lot of fun to use and provided a lot of destruction to both enemies and buildings. But it gets better. The new upgrade system feels better and more useful than the last game. The jetpack (and other packs) have been removed (which sucks but is understandable because you are in a cave) and replaced with abilities I find more fun. These abilities include a powerful melee, damage boost, a protective shield, and an ability that suspends enemies in midair. These abilities are a lot of fun to use as well as being incredibly useful.  Also, you don't have to have the sledgehammer equipped, which was a minor problem I had with the previous game. But by far the best item in the game wasn't anything that can destroy, but something that can reconstruct. Armageddon gives you a tool that can reconstruct buildings, which I loved. The last game introduced a weapon that did the same thing (even though they introduced it after completing the game), but this one is far more useful and fun. You want to climb the stairs but got destroyed after combat? Fix them. You want to hide behind cover but can't find any because they all got destroyed? Shoot a little ball of reconstruction energy (or whatever it was called) and build new cover. Overall, I would say that the weapons and items are a big improvement over the previous game. Another thing this game fixed from the previous one are the controls. Everything feels much smoother now. Darius feels smooth and has some new moves like rolling, while unfortunately getting rid of taking cover (which is something I didn't really use a lot in the previous game anyways). The vehicles feel a lot better, whether that be in a walker, airplane, or spider-like vehicle, with the one exception being the spider-like vehicle feeling stiff when aiming up and down. The game has fixed some of the issues I had with the previous game, and I appreciated that a lot.

The biggest complaint I have for the game (besides the downgrade to linear levels) is how generic the game feels. This game feels like a basic alien shooter. And while that is a bad thing, I can't help but think about the rest of the games and see how basic they feel. Even going back to the first game, I wrote that the game feels like a Half-Life ripoff, and the other games feel rather basic as well. So while the game being basic is an issue, I can't help but think that this is a series issue and not a game issue. But this game also has issues as well that can't be excused. The game has crashed a few times and I had multiple moments where I questioned how dumb the narrative was (like wondering why no one fixed the Terraformer for years then all of a sudden Darius just fixed it). But by far the worst one was the boss fight between you and Adam Hale. The boss fight starts with you being chased by him while he is in a giant mech spider on rails (no literally, you are in a mine cart). That part is fine, but what follows was the most frustrating part. He chases you down a dead-end corridor, and along the way you are shooting these balls hanging from the ceiling and chipping away at his health until by the time you hit the dead end he is at 10% health. Where is the issue? The dead end is too tight to move around him and you instantly die when he touches you. He doesn't even swing at you, he just moves at you and if you get near you die. Even with his health that low, I kept dying over and over because of how powerful he was. It has got to be one of the worst boss fights I have ever faced, and it was worth writing about how bad it was. In the end, I would say that its downgrades and generic nature diminishes from the game, but it never kept me from at least having some fun.

Adam Hale, the main baddie. Don't ask me why he paints his face like that.

Adam Hale, the main baddie. Don't ask me why he paints his face like that.

As always, I talk about the other modes available towards the end, and this blog is no different. Unlike all of the other games, this one doesn't have competitive multiplayer. Instead, the game offers a horde-based mode called Infestation as well as a mode similar to Wrecking Crew called Ruin. Ruin throws you into pieces of various levels found throughout the main game and asks for as much destruction as possible. Their are two modes: one where you have a minute to destroy as much as possible and earn a score, and one where you have no time limit but no score. I wasn't a fan of Wrecking Crew, but I did enjoy my time with Ruin. It was nice to be able to just go into a level and destroy to your heart's content without any time limit, and I felt that the rules put on the Wrecking Crew modes limited the gameplay too much while this one felt liberating. Ruin was fun, but the main mode I want to talk about is Infestation. Infestation is a co-op horde game (I tried but didn't get into a match with anyone) that has two modes: survive and defend. Survive throws you into a piece of a level and asks you to kill an x amount of enemies, and defend is survive but you have to defend a building. Each wave acts as its own level, and each map has its own set of waves. Some maps are designated to survive, and some are designated to defend. After a certain wave point in each map, you unlock more weapons and free up more of your upgrade tree (from the main game) to be used. The most amount of fun I had with this game was here in Infestation. Sure the mode is basic, but its tight action was a blast. Also, the structure of Infestation was fantastic. I don't have to complete a map in one sitting, I can come back to it whenever I want. My upgrades from the main game roll over into this game, and new weapons slowly unlock. I even enjoyed playing the defend mode because I had the reconstructor and can repair the building and the building being defended changes each wave. The mode did have a few flaws like difficulties not being their own set of levels and having too many lives (do I really need twelve lives?), but overall I think the mode is a blast. 

In conclusion, I think Red Faction Armageddon is a hard game to rank. On one hand it is a downgrade to the previous game because of its linear and basic nature while on the other hand it improves upon the things I love about this series like fun weaponry and world building. My ultimate choice came down either ranking it above or below the first game, but in the end I chose for it to be below because looking back at it I feel that I had a better time with the first game. Usually I would predict where this game would be by the end, but this is the end, so now I wave Red Faction goodbye. Goodbye Red Faction, and may someone make another one in the near future (though I am not counting on it).

That is going to wrap up my list. What is your ranking of the series? Put it down below in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.