With only four uneven missions of downloadable destruction, Path to War offers too little and costs too much.
- Shard gun fuels some destructive fun.
- It's only an hour long
- Vehicle sections blunt the explosive excitement
- Can't use new guns in other modes.
Given Red Faction: Armageddon's extensive destructibility and delightfully devastating arsenal, the prospect of fresh opportunities for wreaking havoc on Mars is an appealing one. Path to War struggles to capitalize on this potential, delivering four new campaign missions that give you a glimpse of the events that preceded the original game. Two of the missions are vehicle-based, and though that ups the destructive ante, vehicle handling isn't Armageddon's strong suit. The two on-foot missions fare better, arming you with two mildly amusing new weapons and delivering the exciting action you've come to expect. Unfortunately, the whole thing is over in about an hour, and there's nothing else to do but play it all again. Even with some entertaining moments, Path to War doesn't justify its seven dollar (540 Microsoft points) purchase price.
Even though Armageddon didn't have a very interesting story, Path to War starts out with an intriguing twist. In the first mission, you play as one of Adam Hale's top lieutenants and blast your way through scores of Red Faction soldiers while sabotaging their defenses. It's too bad that this mission takes place in an aerial vehicle and you aren't given the chance to play the role of a villain in a more up-close and personal way. Instead, you hover slowly through constricted passageways, blowing up all kinds of stuff with your missile attack and gunning down tiny soldiers. The explosions are pretty enough, but the vehicle isn't fun to pilot. The floaty controls do little to impart the sense that you are in a powerful weapon of war, so the whole mission feels flat. The same is true of the next mission, in which you drive an awkward tank with reversible (and disorienting) treads. Again, you pack a big punch, but because the camera is zoomed out to encompass your large vehicle, the destruction isn't as impressive or satisfying as it is when you're on foot.
Fortunately, the second half of Path to War puts you back on the ground as Darius Mason, wielding familiar weapons as you fight through industrial areas, outposts, and caves thick with cultist enemies. Though you start off with only part of your full arsenal, you are almost immediately granted one of the two new weapons featured in this add-on: the shard gun. This repurposed cleanup gizmo gathers up a hovering ball of nearby debris and then shoots it wherever you choose. Clobbering enemies with a tangle of building materials is definitely amusing, especially when the junk you kill them with used to be the bridge they were standing on. Playing around with the shard gun can be fun for a while, though it's likely to make you long for the creative mayhem fueled by the magnet gun, which you get to use during only one of the four missions.
The other new gun is less exciting, but more deadly. The sharpshooter is a powerful bolt gun that impales your target to any surface behind it. Sticking an enemy to a wall is good for a chuckle, and when you use this gun in conjunction with your shockwave ability, you can send a foe flying lazily across the map. You don't get to watch them fly for very long, however, because the sharpshooter is so powerful that it kills human enemies with one hit and they dissolve soon after being pinned. Larger enemies won't be propelled by the sharpshooter's bolts, and this limits the amount of nasty foe-pinning fun you can have. Also, you get to use the sharpshooter only on the fourth and final level of Path to War, and you can't use either new gun in Infestation or Ruin mode.
Path to War also comes with a handful of new achievements, but it's easy to get them all on your first and only playthrough. Completing the four missions and exhausting everything this add-on has to offer takes only about an hour, and it's a shame that so much of it is dedicated to lackluster vehicle sequences rather than the explosive core action. The new weapons provide some entertainment, but like everything else in Path to War, it's short-lived. Folks hungry for more Red Faction: Armageddon are likely to get more enjoyment out of a New Game Plus than this brief excursion, which asks too much and gives too little.