Resistance 3 Review
Developer: Insomniac Games / Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment / Price: $59.99 / Rating: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language] / Played on: Playstation 3
You’ve seen it a million times: the downtrodden humans making their last stand against an unstoppable extraterrestrial force; our species’ last hope lying in the hands of an everyman armed with determination and a shotgun. And you’ve also probably played a fair share of set piece-driven, linear first-person shooters. Walk forward, shoot enemies, and repeat. So with these things being considered, Resistance 3 shouldn’t be as special of a game as it is. But a compelling storyline and setting along with some consistently entertaining combat has helped Resistance 3 distance itself from the all-too-familiar military shooter/alien invasion clichés that have plagued the FPS genre. It’s a game that will defy your expectations.
Resistance 3 follows Joseph Capelli, a character that fans of the franchise will remember as the guy who took out the series’ former protagonist, Nathan Hale, with a bullet to the head at the end of Resistance 2. It’s been five years since these events and humanity is in a real bad way. Over 90% of Earth’s population has been wiped out or zombified by the Chimerans and their brutal virus. It’s an interesting spot to start things off. In a lot of ways, this war is over and humanity has lost. This is a story more about just getting by than any kind of feel good, underdog counter-insurgence.
This sense of hopelessness isn’t any more apparent than when you start the game off in Capelli’s hometown of Haven, Oklahoma. Capelli, his wife, and his sick son have shacked up with a small group of survivors in an underground bunker. Hardly an ideal living situation, many of Capelli’s peers are on the brink of death, insanity, or something worse. It’s obviously not long before the Chimera sniff out this secret location and descend upon the town with a death squad. From here, Capelli is forced to make the difficult choice of leaving wife and kid behind to travel to New York in hopes of closing a wormhole that is slowly freezing Earth, thus making it more inhabitable for the Chimera.
Treacherous boat rides, giant monster chases, and epic shoot outs follow as you make your way to The Big Apple in an attempt to take one last stand against the Chimera. I hesitate to compare Resistance 3 to Half-Life 2, mostly because it is my favorite game ever made, but some of the similarities are undeniable. In addition to there being an Eastern European guy that gives you a shotgun, Resistance 3 does a great job of creating a sense of forward progression, as though you’re actually making your way across the U.S. As you do, you’ll find the game’s environments filled with contextual narrative elements, like a flooded football field or car with a Christmas tree tied to the top of it – it’s this attention to detail that adds to all the hopelessness mentioned earlier and really makes the world of Resistance feel like an actual, and totally messed up, place.
If there’s one thing Insomnaic Games is known for, whether it be in the Resistance or Ratchet & Clank franchises, it is their ability to design really frigging cool weapons. If you’ve played Resistance before, you’ll be happy to hear that weapons like the Bullseye, which lets you tag enemies to lock on to them, and the Auger, which lets you shoot enemies through walls, will be making a return in Resistance 3. But some creative new ways to take out enemies are also present. I was a particularly big fan of the Mutator. Shooting an enemy with its infectious biological spew will cause gross, mucous-looking cysts to appear all over their body until they explode. The Atomizer, which basically acts like chain lightning in the form of a gun, has one of the coolest looking and most effective secondary fires in your arsenal. It will drop down an electricity-filled orb that causes all nearby enemies to be lifted up off the ground and spin around. As you make your way through the campaign, the weapons that you turn to the most will get automatically upgraded.
My biggest gripes with the single player campaign of Resistance 3 came from a couple of oddly designed sequences. One objective had me taking out a Chimeran drop ship with the Wildfire, the game’s rocket launcher, before I had even acquired the weapon. During another level my intended path though a tight, underground mine became frustratingly unclear as I was being chased by a big-ass Chimeran monster. While Resistance 3 is a mighty nicely designed game for the most part, the heavy use of scripting can become the game’s crutch when it occasionally breaks.
Resistance 3’s visuals really help to drive home the omnipresent sense of hopelessness. In the past, the franchise has been knocked for being one of the many overly-brown first-person shooters on the market. While this is still the case in some spots, the bold use of a distinct yellow and black color palette along with some fantastic lighting and particle effects work to act as a constant reminder of the Chimera’s destructive occupation. It’s a really cool and subtle way to tie the game’s narrative to its art style. Later on in the game you’ll make your way through heavy forest, run down prisons, and snowy landscapes all of which look damn good.
Given Resistance 3’s spectacular single player experience, it’s extra disappointing that the multiplayer is so lackluster. Modes include your standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch along with a couple of other objective-based modes like Capture The Flag and a territory control-like game. Like the required morphine drip of most online multiplayer games of today, you will earn experience points, level up, and gain the ability to unlock more weapons and accessories for your loadouts. The problem is that the multiplayer doesn’t seem very well balanced. Most matches I played turned into nothing more than a shotgun fest as it’s pretty clearly the most effective weapon. Additionally, some of the game’s perks, like the Leaper Corpse which causes three Leapers to appear from your dead corpse and attack your enemies, are punishing players for doing what they are supposed to. And if the game is supposed to have skill-based matchmaking it definitely doesn’t work. This might mean you’ll be able to find games more quickly but it feels pretty unfair to be matched up against a team of level 40’s when you haven’t even broken double digits yet.
I like Resistance 3 a lot more than I expected to. I want to say that everything it’s doing has been done before and while that might be true, sometimes good games aren’t the ones that innovate but the ones that execute on already established formulas. Sure, the multiplayer might not set your loins on fire but PS3 owners will find the game’s single player to be one of the best times they’ll have shooting stuff in the face.