Resistance: Fall of Man launched alongside the PS3 in November of 2006, and remained among the best the console had to offer for a very long time. Two years later Resistance 2 released, but wasn’t as well received as the original. To ensure their third offering fared better, Insomniac Games ditched their franchise alternating, bi-annual release schedule and decided to put an extra year of development time into Resistance 3. Was it worth waiting for?
I’ll start this review with a bold statement: Forget everything you know about Resistance. If it weren’t for the Chimeran invasion timeline and setting, and Insomniac’s signature weaponry, this could have been a brand new game or franchise all on its own. The tone, the pacing, the depth; it’s all so different. But in the best way possible.
Resistance never took itself too seriously. Earth was under attack, and the human race was being exterminated by Chimeran forces. Yet Nathan Hale and his companions never seemed to be at all worried. In fact, they would simply charge their way through what should have been insurmountable odds, all without a scratch. Nathan Hale was a Superhuman, and the games played as such.
In Resistance 3, you take on the role of Joseph Capelli, the now discharged SRPA Sentinel that fought alongside Hale in Resistance 2, who ultimately pulled the trigger ending Hale’s life. Like many Resistance fans, I questioned the Insomniac’s reasoning behind killing off Nathan Hale. Why turn the franchise over to the hands of a nobody, when Nathan Hale, although mostly silent and pompous, was such a badass. But that’s what the series needed. Joseph Capelli isn’t this Superhuman creation, he’s human. He bleeds. He hurts. He cares about his family and their survival. He has fear. Yet, he knows that if he doesn’t act, the human race doesn’t stand a chance.
“I want nothing more than to provide for my wife and son. Whatever it takes.”
Through Joseph Capelli, the various settings, the music, and non-playable characters, a bleak tone is set. The human race is at the verge of extinction. Families are forced into hiding underground like rats, while Chimera death fleets hunt them down with ferocity. This isn’t a happy place. It’s fight or die for many. Hide or die for the rest. It’s no way to live. A perfect example of how this general feeling of sadness and desperation resonates throughout the game is when you can overhear a conversation between two NPCs. One man tells another that his wife is pregnant. The second man congratulates him in excitement, but the first man has disappointment in his voice. He says “the last thing this town needs is another mouth to feed”. Living in this Chimera-occupied world is more pain and suffering than actually living.
This same tone is apparent during all aspects of the game. The odds against Capelli are overwhelming at all times. The pacing is grueling, there isn’t time to breathe. Capelli goes from one deadly encounter to the next, narrowly escaping with his life. Some of his companions aren’t so lucky. Although, most of the game is spent by your lonesome.
In the first two games, the gameplay was boilerplate FPS. Find yourself in an open area with plenty of cover. Shoot from behind the safety of the cover until group of enemies are killed. Move on to next area. Rinse, repeat. This is Resistance 3‘s biggest triumph: The entire time the gameplay is fresh. Every area is different, and you need a different approach to succeed. Sometimes you’re defending an attack, other times you’re sneaking, hoping to remain unnoticed. You’re rarely running-and-gunning your way through an area – if you try to, you will die.
Your only hope in survival is to utilize the bevy of varied weapons in your arsenal. The weapons have always been a strong point in Resistance, or any Insomniac-developed game. But this time, not only is the assortment more varied than before, but as you use each weapon they upgrade, becoming more powerful and useful. The Bullseye, which is your main weapon throughout the game (humans are almost extinct; they aren’t making Carbines for combat, they’re hiding or dead) features an upgrade to the “tag” secondary fire: if you miss your target, the tag splits and ricochets. Using the right weapon for the right situation is the key to taking out the hordes of Chimera.
Enemy types haven’t changed much. There are a few new Chimera breeds like the Goliath and Long-Legs. There’s also a big surprise later in the game. The biggest distinction between Chimera types are the militarized, hive-mind Chimera and feral Chimera. The feral Chimera are unpredictable, and at times will attack other Chimera. Boss fights are intense and intimidating. Most of the time during a boss fight is spent running for your life and finding a safe place to fire your weapon, only to be spotted and have to flee again. As I said, the odds are overwhelming, and this tone of being at the brink of survival is apparent at all times.
Even visually, the game is bleak. Buildings and other structures are destroyed, crumbling masses of rubble. Vegetation overgrows in areas, showing that humans haven’t been in control for ages. The atmosphere is dank and eerie, and many times, is downright spooky – a perfect setting for the tale Resistance 3 tells. The game’s sound effects and musical composition compliment the tone, the visual presentation, and the overall sensation of misery and desolation, while still remaining symphonic. The sound design is superb.
While story edges out the weapons as the star of the single-player campaign, weapons steal the show in multiplayer. Multiplayer, while well polished and a good time, is standard fare. It’s not as chaotic as the first two games. It’s more focused and intimate; you get to know your enemies and if you’re good enough, they’ll get to know you, too. There are plenty of perks and upgrades to buy as you rack up experience. Attributes change depending on if you’re playing as a human or Chimera.
Gone are the unique, objective-based online co-op missions found in Resistance 2. Instead, two players can play the single-player campaign cooperatively much like was found in Resistance: Fall of Man. The only difference is you’re not restricted to local play. You can choose to play with a friend on your own PS3, or you can invite a friend to join you online. The second player can drop into a campaign at any time.
Resistance 3 supports PlayStation Move, but the game is better off without it. Yes, it works. But you lose an advantage. It’s similar to Killzone 3 where turning is the same movement as aiming, meaning strafing while aiming simultaneously is difficult, leaving you vulnerable to attack. If you really must use the Move, you can tune the sensitivity and other settings, but I don’t feel the payoff is worth the time-sink tweaking it to get it to work well enough. The game also supports 3D. In other 3D titles, I’ve noticed that textures and resolution seems to appear washed out in a sort of trade-off to make 3D possible, but not in Resistance 3. The 3D really adds a level of depth and clarity that can help with aiming. Aside from that, it looks great. Plants, debris and explosions pop, while everything else helps give a depth of field effect that really brings everything to life. 3D is a major plus for anyone that has a 3DTV. PlayStation Move, however, is not, and feels tacked on.
Insomniac has used the extra year in the cooker to make Resistance 3 a game that has everything going for it. The multiplayer, while not the best on the market, is good enough to keep people interested for a long time. However, the single-player (and co-op) make for a game that can proudly stand next to Uncharted 2 as some of the best the PlayStation 3 has to offer. If only people turned off by the first two games give it the chance it deserves.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+Best Resistance yet… by far.
+Dark, eerie setting and tone. Overwhelming odds.
+Weapon design is genius. Using them correctly is key to victory.
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