I hate the planet Mars. I'm just going to get that out there right away. I don't think it's worthy of colonizing and just about every awesome piece of entertainment ever set on the lifeless dustbowl has focused on how bad an idea going there actually is. Doom? Hell Demons. Total Recall? Aliens. Mission to Mars? Tim Robbins.

And Red Faction? Uppity unionists. It's never a good idea. The fact I dislike the planet so much really helped me enjoy the first Red Faction titles so much – the game concerns itself with wrecking the place.

Red Faction: Armageddon is set decades after Red Faction: Guerrilla. In fact, the protagonist is the grandson of Guerilla’s Alec Mason. Darius Mason is a jack of all trades (miner, soldier, exterminator) and it’s his job to escort trapped miners from their holes when bad things start happening following a terrorist attack on the Terraformer – a machine that makes living on Mars possible.

The story takes a back-seat to the action throughout the game, but it’s paced well all the same and there are enough twists and turns to keep the player engaged.

An over-the-shoulder third-person action shooter, Red Faction: Armageddon feels like a cross between Gears of War and Starship Troopers. The gameplay focuses on navigating Alec through an ever-more complex series of tunnels and underground encampments as he hunts for the primary antagonist, Adam Hale. Along the way Alec will need to dispose of enemies ranging from military fanatics to trans-dimensional flying bugs. Armageddon has a good learning curve and frequently throws interesting new enemies into combat at opportune moments.

Starting from humble beginnings, Darius is armed with a fairly pitiful rifle and the incredibly over-powered maul. While the rifle is necessary for slotting foes from afar, the maul will make light work of most enemies and destructible objectives in the first half of the game. Running right into the midst of a group of slack-jawed henchmen and pounding them into paste is very satisfying and feels as solidly bone-crunching as can be expected.

Maximising environmental advantages is the key to success in the game, and the maul serves as an early introduction to the power of knocking a tower off its feet or ploughing through a wall.

Much like Half-Life 2, things really start to get entertaining when the manipulation of gravity comes into play. The gravity gun in Armageddon isn't quite as revolutionary as Valve's game-changer, but it's still very satisfying. Click one point and create a gravity vacuum to another point. This works with pieces of junk, loose bits of cave walls and of course, enemies. Smacking two insectoid cave monsters into each other in the middle of a fire-fight is about as satisfying as cave combat can get.

The inclusion of the Nano-Forge allows structures to be rebuilt and helps clean up all the unrecoverable damage the player would have otherwise been trapped by. It's a deus ex machina approach, and feels somewhat unworthy, even for a title with such a thin attachment to reality as Armageddon.

Other weapons are fairly generic plasma and explosive types, with the exception of the nano-rifle which causes the target to disassemble from the atomic level.

While the game suffers from a Quake colour scheme much of the time, the overall look is maintained by science-fiction themed lighting and structures throughout the story mode. At times it feels like the design philosophy has been lifted from Killzone 3, but then by falling through crack in the earth, entirely new worlds can be discovered. The 3D modelling and textures are well executed and feel solid and cinematic. Sound design and voice acting are also excellent, even if some of the dialogue is clunky.

Multiplayer is present, although it tends to betray Armageddon's console roots. There is a horde mode where co-operative gameplay is utilised to fight off wave after wave of enemies, although this swiftly runs out of charm. Ruin Mode is more fun, and charges the player with doling out as much environmental damage as possible in a limited time frame.

If Red Faction: Armageddon isn't treated like it's going to revolutionize the gaming world, it won't disappoint. It's a solid third-person shooter, there are a bunch of cool weapons and nasty surprises down in those mines. At the same time, there is an immutable sense of repetition at play and things are pretty simplistic in the design department.

The multiplayer probably won't catch on in any meaningful way, but the campaign is worth it for the ride.