With Red Faction Guerrilla's departure from a linear shooter into open-world territory, Armageddon's return to a shooter on rails feels out of joint. With a minimal story and a failure to capitalize on the strength of its destruction physics, it feels like a game that falls short of its potential. And indeed, due to the publisher's financial woes, the poor sales of this game resulted in an end to the series and to THQ.
Armageddon's story takes place 50 years after RFGuerrilla and since that time the surface of Mars has become uninhabitable due to the destruction of the Terraformer machine. At that time, colonists were forced to flee to the underground mines to survive. Darius Mason, the grandson of Alec Mason and Sam, the main characters from RFG, is a contractor who transports goods across the inhospitable surface of Mars to other settlements. He is hired and tricked into opening an old mining shaft that leads into an ancient Marauder temple. This awakens a long-dormant race of Martian creatures, which creates a disaster on the planet. Darius sets about to fix the mess and clear his name.
Unfortunately, as a main character, Darius doesn't have much to recommend him. The dialogue is pretty cheesy and he sounds quite immature. The story is not very cohesive and there is little interaction with other characters, except through short cut-scenes, and almost no character development. This detracts from player engagement as you don't really care much about the story in general.
The game also suffers from some pacing issues. For the first half, I was thinking "what a snoozefest," but then suddenly you start to get some decent action. Unfortunately, there's nothing much to do in between immediate goals as there is no exploration, no puzzles to solve, and no platforming. Combat is somewhat repetitive as well, although there are missions where you can ride and control mechs, exoskeletons, and flyers that add a bit of variety.
The graphics are okay and the physics great, like RFG, however they are not used enough in this game. Salvage only comes when you destroy explosive tanks lying around and nothing if you just randomly destroy things. One thing that did bother me was the over-the-shoulder camera. There was something off-putting about looking at Darius's back all the time. It's a view that falls somewhere between a first-person and a third-person perspective.
The game does sport a pretty impressive magnet gun as the best non-conventional weapon in the game. I used it as much as the assault rifle and sometimes preferred it. The repair feature is also really cool, but once again, this mechanic is not exploited enough. I suppose it might depend on your combat style and how many things you destroy during a fight. You would then have to repair stairs and walkways a lot.
Weapons are added to a weapons locker as you find these. You can exchange them when found in the environment or at a weapons terminal. You can carry four. Upgrades are unlocked according to game percentage completion. You also gain other powers, such as impact (destroy) shockwave, shell, and beserk.
The savegame placement is just horrible. You have checkpoints, but your salvage and upgrades are not saved except at the checkpoint and these are in stupid places like just before an upgrade machine instead of after. So any upgrades you do immediately after the save are not actually saved till the next checkpoint. There are some manual save slots, but they don't behave any differently. So, if you die between points, keep in mind that you will have to do the same upgrade again.
To be fair, the second half of the game is considerably better with more variety of missions and your love interest also gets to tag along for awhile. All in all, it's not a bad game, but it's not a great game either. I'd say that critical review scores are just about right where they should be.
There is no competitive multiplayer in this game, but there is Co-op and a couple of different modes. A Ruin mode, which lets you destroy lots of things and an online Infestation mode