I initially balked at the Humble THQ Bundle, confused by what it was. Certainly not indie, which was taken away from the collection’s overall title, but far from humble, too. These are triple A titles from a major company. So I slept on it. In the end, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to play Darksiders, Metro 2033, and Red Faction: Armageddon for the low, low entry fee of a buck. Yeah, that’s right; I went as low as I could. No need for me to go above and beyond the average amount paid for Saints Row: The Third, a fantastically fun videogame that I already own for the Xbox 360 and have played to nearly completion (minus the lackluster DLC). And I highly doubt there will ever come a day that I actually install the three Company of Heroes games, let alone one of them. I am so not interested in real-life war games. Oh well.
And for $1–or really $0.33 if you break it up between the three games I wanted from the whole caboodle–Red Faction: Armageddon is functionally fine. But that doesn’t absolve it from being a horribly backwards sequel that strips away everything that made Red Faction: Guerrilla a fun time: an open world, the freedom to destroy what you wanted and how you went about it, the various modes for online play, the impact a sledgehammer could deliver. And more, surely. Now, for those that don’t remember–heck, even I kind of forgot this–I played the demo for Armageddon back in May 2011, not really finding too much to talk about within it. I walked down a dark corridor and shot some alien monsters off walls, as well as reconstructed some ruined platforms and staircases. Yeah, very different from the previous outing.
In this one, you play as Darius Mason, another checkbox in a long list of white, disgruntled-looking, bald videogame protagonist men. Don’t get him confused with other bald, white men in the game. It is 2017, and he must reclaim cultist fortifications on the disaster-ravaged surface of Mars, as well as defend colonists from hostile Martian creatures thriving in the mines and chasms below. To do this, Mason will use various tools and weapons, such as the Nano-Forge and Magnet Gun, to dish out destruction or repair what’s fallen. He will also walk forward in a straight line and shoot swarms of alien monsters to death before repeating this process a few feet further down. The plot is dished out in small, predictable chunks, with characters being stock and uninspiring, and Mason as a action movie star wannabe. Really, his one-liners need to stop.
Then again, the plot in Guerrilla wasn’t that great, but the openness of the world and the freedom of your tools more than made up for that. Here, in Armageddon, all that is gone. It is a non-stop corridor crawl. Dark corridors too, filled with the same swarms of alien monsters which you can kill in one melee hit so don’t bother trying to shoot them in the shadows. The game occasionally teases you by bringing you above-ground, but it’s still just a straight run or vehicle-driven sequence that does not encourage exploration. In fact, if you stray too far from the zone where all the fighting is going down, you get a warning message from the game coupled with a countdown to return to the fight. I have to imagine if you don’t by the time the countdown ends, it’s game over. Yeah, none of that.
Overall, despite a fun set of tools at your side like the Magnet Gun and that super powerful sledgehammer, Armageddon is shockingly boring. You just follow a guided path and kill monsters along the way until you get to a cutscene or new section, doing it all again. Boss fights are uninteresting, requiring little skill and thought and just a better ability to roll out of danger while continuing to fire your assault rifle. I’ve been playing on the Normal difficulty, and it’s felt a little like Godzilla squashing a city of people; haven’t died once, haven’t run out of ammo, haven’t really found myself in a tough pickle. According to my upgrades wheel, I’m almost 75% through the story. Think that’s three or four more levels to slog through.
The Humble THQ Bundle recently added in the Path to War DLC for free since I already purchased the collection. I have no idea what it is and entails, but I imagine it is just more of the same missions from the main game. I’ll give it a try once I finish off Armageddon‘s campaign, as well as try some of the multiplayer options, before shelving the game for good and remembering back to the good ol’ times I had with the franchise back in Red Faction II and Guerrilla.