Have You Played… Red Faction: Armageddon?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The game that killed the franchise. Red Faction: Armageddon was Volition’s only real failure, a sequel to the stunning Red Faction: Guerilla, but one that failed to pick up nearly enough sales. THQ ditched it, and then moments later went under, the rights passing (along with Darksiders) to Nordic Games (who will likely sit on both like ancient dragons, jealously guarding their treasures and never letting anyone else ever touch them again). But you know what? It wasn’t too bad.

The biggest crime of Armageddon was that it just wasn’t as good as Guerilla. The comparisons were inevitable and just, and in them it fell short. In many ways it fell short by being a surprisingly different game, taking the former open-world ultra-destruction and setting it in an underground corridor.

Still, bloomin good corridor shooter, with quite extraordinary levels of destruction – and indeed in this outing, construction. Best of all is the magnet gun, which lets you attach any two things in the game world (building, enemy, vehicle, etc) to another, and have them violently collide, meaning you can ignore all the weapons and just smash stuff throughout.

I think, five years on (how, HOW?), it would be a much better game to play now, simply because there are no expectations of it beyond what it simply is – something it couldn’t possibly achieve at the time of its release. And you’ll have a darned good time if you do.

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29 Comments

  1. phelix says:

    I have it in my library. Dissapointing, but not quite spectacularly so. It has its merits when judged apart from Guerrilla (which is impossible, obviously).
    When I played through it, all I could think about was what they could have done with the more detailed destruction in an open world environment that corrected the flaws of Guerrilla. Alas.

    • Flopdong says:

      I liked Armageddon a lot more than Guerilla personally. The open world of Guerilla was boring to me, filled with cookie cutter buildings and a mostly useless arsenal of weapons.
      Comparatively, Armageddon had much more intricate buildings to destroy, and better weapons to destroy them with. I think the linear structure suited the game better.

      • suibhne says:

        Hear, hear! Armageddon was much easier to get into and less repetitively hollow than Guerrilla. And yes, the story and storytelling were both total bollocks, but the magnet gun was brilliant.

  2. Noodlemonk says:

    It also sported some really rather good music!

  3. Xocrates says:

    I remember the story being horrendously bad, and often feeling like somewhat random levels stringed together.

    Mechanically it was fine, but with the exception of the Magnet Gun (which was admittedly very cool) I found no reason why I shouldn’t just replay Guerrilla instead.

    • Useful Dave says:

      The story was hilarious – especially the ending where they do the obvious thing that you couldn’t do at the start of the game because they didn’t let you.

  4. B3tanTyronne says:

    I used to enjoy playing both Guerilla and Armageddon but for some bizarre reasons they will now no longer work on my pc. No matter what attempt of a work around I try, no sooner do they start that they crash – such a shame.

    • anHorse says:

      Guerilla had always online GWFL so maybe that’s the cause

  5. Dr. Raven Darktalon Blood says:

    I think Armageddon is terrible, it’s a console port locked to very low FOV, I played it for about an hour but I just couldn’t see what was going on around me, I quit in frustration but also because I just wasn’t enjoying it at all.

    Guerilla on the other hand is wonderful, and was a PC game at heart and better for it.

  6. PenguinJim says:

    I loved RF:G, and despite absolutely hating RF:A’s demo, I still ended up with the full game a couple of years after release.

    I think it would have done far better as a lower-priced title – $20-30, perhaps. Slightly lower expectations and all that.

    Now, who remembers Red Faction: Origins from the same year? Criminal that it wasn’t mentioned in this article!

    There was also Red Factions: Battlegrounds, but I don’t think I even tried the trial for that…

  7. Papageno says:

    Well, this inspired me to install the PC version of RF: Guerrilla* which I got during a Steam Sale 6 years ago (which is nutso), despite having played it through on the Xbox 360 (although never the DLC, so still looking forward to that).

    Thanks!

    *My younger brother dubbed it “Martian Crazypants” and of course, who could forget the Idle Thumbs Guys’ “Space A**hole”?

  8. Silverchain says:

    I loved Guerilla and was badly disappointed by Armageddon’s change of gameplay; even so, I would have persevered except that Armageddon also proved very unstable on my machine and if I remember correctly even managed to fry Windows with a CTD; not endearing.

  9. nimbulan says:

    Not too bad? It’s easily the best game in the series. The destruction system actually works properly unlike Guerilla (no more giant buildings being held up by a single piece of metal in one wall, yay!), and the reconstruction system allows you to destroy just about anything (with much more interesting weapons) without needing to worry about preventing progress through the level. Sure the story’s nothing to write home about and the FOV was horrendously low (easily fixed through the usual methods of modding Volition’s engine) but the gameplay is far far better than the previous entries in the series.

    • Flopdong says:

      I completely agree, every major aspect of Armageddon was an improvement over Guerilla, better weapons, better destruction, better combat, repairing structures, etc etc.
      Ill take linear but interesting maps over a boring repetitive open world any day

  10. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    It’s crazy to me that no game has ever really lived up the the potential of Red Faction Guerilla. The same concept with modern tech and a more polished script seems like a slam dunk, and yet here we are.

    “It wasn’t too bad” is a fair assessment of Armageddon–much like Invisible War, it’s super disappointing in context but potentially quite entertaining on its own terms. If you enjoy b-grade action schlock (Binary Domain also comes to mind), it’s worth checking out. ears tearful revenge for the love interest’s death.”

    • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

      Oh geez what the hell happened to that last sentence. What I was going to say is that Armageddon has probably about the fastest turn around from “Protagonist finally kisses love interest” to “Protagonist swears tearful revenge for the love interest’s death” that I’ve ever seen (about thirty seconds, if I’m remembering right). Cracked me up at the time, but to be fair, it’s not a game that you play for the plot.

    • Flopdong says:

      Try Just Cause 3! It doesnt have quite the same level of destructive capability, but its very reminiscent of Guerilla otherwise. Plus the wingsuit makes going from one end of the map to the other a lot more entertaining than driving down a road following a blue line

      • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

        I’ve been waiting for that one to get a little cheaper, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!

  11. phanatic62 says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed RF:Armageddon. My impression of the game was certainly colored by the terrible reviews it received at release, so by the time I bought it a couple of years later my expectations (and the price!) were sufficiently low to leave me presently surprised by how fun it was. As others have said, the magnet gun is more or less the sole weapon to use the entire time, but killing two enemies by having them collide was always fun. Also, the game could be completed in 6-8 hours unlike the marathon that was RF:Guerilla.

  12. vorador says:

    People were expecting a Guerrilla sequel.

    So when you’re confined to over-the-shoulder corridor shooting and terrible story, people just ignored it. Not even the magnet gun and building construction/destruction could save it, plus it was extremely short and the multiplayer was dead. But it wasn’t a bad game. Just disappointing.

    I think Volition would have took another stab at the franchise later if THQ didn’t croaked.

  13. Viral Frog says:

    This was my first Red Faction game, and still my favorite. The voice acting was pretty terrible, and the story was pretty predictable, but it just clicked with me. The core gameplay was, in my opinion, very well done.

    Guerilla is a great game but it’s open world. That means I play for an hour or two and then get bored and don’t return for months at a time.

  14. Neurotic says:

    Good to see this piece on the same day that Volition announced their new one. It’s a great time for the fans!

  15. malkav11 says:

    I quickly got fed up with the shitty insect enemies that were no fun to kill and way too numerous/bullet spongy for how boring they were. If they hadn’t had those I’d probably have had a grand time with Armageddon.

  16. Dr Biffo says:

    no, i haven’t. Armageddon is one of those i never played *because* of the bad press, how badly it was received. i normally like deciding for myself but it was obvious i would be wasting my time. Guerilla though? brilliantly wonderful, although even during the “vinegar strokes stage”, in the end, i must admit it was a bit of a chore-fest to finally finish. uninstalling, was the real climax. adieu, red faction.

  17. Dr Biffo says:

    Red Faction: Armageddon. The ‘Top Gear’ of videogames.

  18. ey says:

    The whole thing was set in a cave. There’s only so many ways you can dress up a cave before it starts getting boring. It wasn’t a bad game per se, but the bar is so much higher these days that merely being OK isn’t enough. And it didn’t really bring anything really novel to the corridor shooter genre.

    Bulletstorm came out the same year, and even though the kill scoring system lost its charm after a while (there’s not really a good reason to go for complicated kills), it was at least stylishly executed and had pretty good art direction. You know, instead of being set entirely in a cave.

  19. MondoEx says:

    Played most Red Faction titles to date.

    What amazes me is how many people have only played guerilla and armageddon …. I can’t be the only one?

    I bought the original ‘Red Faction’ with my PS2… that game was absolutely insane, innovation at the time ( still blows my mind now ) The rail gun was so insanely cool!

    Red Faction 2 was also insanely good, the way they carried the destructible environments over… I mean you could walk down any corridor then keep blowing holes in a wall and somehow find a secret room that had items, dead people or you just got plain stuck… King of the couch, two controllers or four or w.e…I’d sit with my old man, brother and we’d crunch bots all day long!

    These were the best Red Faction games in my honest opinion. My life would be complete if we got a reboot…

    Where as Guerilla for me was still great but felt ’empty’…Though I did thoroughly enjoy smashing every thing with that axe…