Shortly after the announcement that the Red Faction series had been cancelled, Volition released Path to War, an add-on which acts as a prologue to Armageddon. According to the description when you download it, it's the battle for the Terraformer, ten hours before the beginning of Armageddon. It'll see you go through four incredible new missions and feature new weapons and vehicles. But does it live up to the words featured on its effective packaging?
The mechanics and structure of this short add-on are the same as in the main game, and this is a good thing, it wouldn't look and feel right if they overhauled it to look and feel different from Armageddon's style. As stated in the above sentence, this add-on is quite short. For those who play Path to War on Casual mode, they will be spending around 40 minutes reaching the end. For the more hardcore gamers out there who play on Insane, it's only marginally tougher, making it roughly an hour to an hour and 20 minutes.
Path to War contains four missions, which are mainly parts of the battle for the Terraformer. The first mission sees you playing as Mallus, who is Adam Hale's right hand man, and the second mission as a red faction member. Both mission one and two are vehicle missions, which effectively means if something gets in your way, either blow it up or run it over. The final two missions see you as Darrius Mason. In mission three you are helping with an aerial assault, with mission four being a three way battle between you, the Cultists and the Creatures.
All of these missions feel like they fit into the story, and they are moderately enjoyable, but again, they feel too short. Along with new missions, Volition provided new vehicles and weapons. The vehicles are a flying ship, similar to the Inferno GX and an armoured tank. These function as you would expect them to. The flyer is swift, deadly, but easy to crash into canyon walls and structures, the tank, slow, powerful and can drive through most obstacles. Both vehicles proved fun to drive, and it's only on Insane when you need to be more observant to their shields and armour. The new weapons are the Sharpshooter and the Shard Cannon. The Shard Cannon is able to pick up any debris, even from un-destroyed structures, and throw them to where it's aimed. The Sharpshooter is a medium to long range gun that fires what look like nails, which tend to be one hit kills.
The graphics are the same as Armageddon's, they manage to capture realism and mix it with the gritty world that Red Faction has become. It's on the vehicle missions where the graphics seem to be at their best, and this is probably due to the chaos going on around you. For example, on the tank mission, as you begin to press forward, you see lightning strike one of the guard towers, causing it to explode and shower debris. The vehicle missions are more explosive and show to a greater effect how much work has been put into the Geo-Mod since Red Faction 1. On the Darrius missions, you are returned to gun fights on the surface then back to the restrictive feelings of the underground. The graphics here again look gritty and provide a good interpretation of what they represent, i.e. being underground or seeing how the towers are constructed.
The voices featured in Path to War are for the most part, clear to understand. The exceptions are when the signals are intercepted, but this is part of the story and the distortion adds to the almost hopelessness feeling that you receive for Darrius and the Red Faction. This is further enhanced by the desperation in the voices when things predictably go wrong. All the gun shots and explosions are perfectly timed with their visual counterparts, and sound great. A nice explosion is always a satisfying way to deal with enemies, but it lacks if you can't hear the boom it provides, and like Armageddon and previous Red Faction titles, it does provide.
For most people, any add-on is not complete unless it comes with achievements to gain. Path to War provides gamers ten more achievements, worth 250G. All of the achievements are obtainable in one play-through, with the majority of them being story related. The remaining achievements are kill related, tied to certain weapons, the highest of which, involves killing 20 enemies with the Sharpshooter. For a small DLC, these achievements fit well, but are probably a bit too easy.
All in All, Path of War is a good addition for any Red Faction fan, but for 560MSP, it's too short. This is partially redeemed by the work on the graphics and sound, as well as providing more insight into the story of Armageddon. With easy achievements, it slips to being less than expected. With the recent news that Red Faction has been cancelled from future projects, it's a shame if it ends with this DLC, even if it is fun. Red Faction: Armageddon - Path to War gets 5/10, as there was room for a lot more content than what was given. For die-hard fans of the series then it's a recommended buy, but if you are a casual gamer then it's wiser to wait for it to be in a Deal of the Week, or discounted. For anyone who is on the fence about purchasing the game or not, follow the link provided below to read the Red Faction: Armageddon review.