Of the weapon selection, only one item truly stands out. The Magnet Gun is a nifty construction tool that Darius wields as a weapon. The first shot places a magnet, the second an anchor. The first item is then yanked at speed into the second. It's simply but instantly satisfying, as you send enemies sailing into rock walls, walls thundering onto enemies, or even enemies colliding with other enemies.

It's up there with the Just Cause grapple hook and Half Life's gravity gun as a gaming toy that demands to played with. And it's telling that mucking around with this gizmo is the only time when Armageddon stirs from its creative slumber and rises beyond its copycat status.

So does the game feature any sections, battles or even puzzles where the player is compelled to utilise this fantastic contraption to interact with the game world in fresh and exciting ways? No. It doesn't.

Darius has other tools to play with, of course. The Nano Forge can give off an impact wave, forcing enemies backwards with a violent push. You could call it Force Push, perhaps.

Similarly a shockwave effect can levitate enemies slowly into the air, making them easy targets. But effective as this is, slow motion and anti-gravity are hardly fresh additions to the shooter armoury.

There's also an energy shield, while weapons like the nano-rifle and singularity bomb from Guerilla return. Upgrades for all can be purchased using collected salvage, opening up four tiers of fairly useful enhancements.

When it comes down to function there's very little distinction between the guns on offer, all dividing neatly into Guns That Kill Things and Guns That Demolish Things. The nano-rifle isn't massively different to the singularity gun in practice, so point any of them at an alien and it'll explode in a shower of colourful goop anyway.

With no finesse or nuance in the tactics required there's little incentive to experiment with your toys. Bog standard rockets and bullets are ample for carving through the horde so whatever destruction you leave in your wake is literally collateral damage - a mere side effect, rather than core gameplay concept.

For the most part you'll be jogging along and shooting like in every other game in the genre, and it's all too easy to let the second hand feel overwhelm what is actually a perfectly serviceable action game. Combat is solid, weighty and enjoyable and Volition has hit all the important genre keystones with confidence, if not style.

Shooting from the hip is a bad idea, since the skittering aliens are too fast for such cowboy antics, so the robust lock-on system is the best way to progress. There's no cover system, apart from the ability to crouch, but since almost everything can be blown apart that's clearly for the best.

In terms of offensive options, four weapons can be mapped to the d-pad, with nano powers on the shoulder buttons, and control feels crisp and responsive. The over-the-shoulder viewpoint can be claustrophobic, while the inability to see your feet means its sometimes easy to get snagged on rubble and debris while back-pedalling away from some bulky monstrosity. But when the game gets the mix of enemies and environment right, it's easy to forgive the lack of personality and just get stuck in.

And there are plenty of chances to get stuck in thanks to a lengthy single-player story. If anything the game goes on too long, padding itself out with missions where you're sent backwards and forwards down crossroads pathways, finding some vital machine, only to be sent back again to find the generator needed to get it working.

The game also keeps going after the climactic boss battle, overstaying its welcome with another hour or so of truly sadistic monster spamming that leaves you weary rather than thrilled.

About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Senior Contributor, Eurogamer.net

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

More articles by Dan Whitehead

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